French or Dutch?

(7 Posts)
kreecherlivesupstairs Thu 12-Aug-10 10:26:54

We have recently moved to the Antwerp area of Belgium and DD starts at school next week (hooray). I got an email from her school about which language we want her to learn. The choice is Dutch or French, for some reason she has got it into her head she will not learn French. DH speaks fluent French so he could help her with her homework and, on checking on tinternet, 5 million people speak Dutch as a second language but 195 million use French as a second language. WWYD, force her to study a language she doesn't want to or take the less useful route of the Dutch?

OP’s posts: |
Portofino Thu 12-Aug-10 10:35:13

If you are living (and staying for some time) in Antwerp, I would definitely go for Dutch - it will be the local language there. We went down the French route after agonising over it in much the same way, and part of me now regrets that.

The Dutch speaking education system is much more highly rated than the French one and they don't expect you to constantly shell out for stationery and trips etc - it's all covered.

Will she be at an international school? I would have expected them to teach both languages anyway? DD will start Dutch classes in 3eme Primaire and already does an hour a week. Her Dutch is about the same level as mine at the mo - niet goed!

DrivenToDistraction Thu 12-Aug-10 10:38:10

How old is DD? How long are you planning in staying in Antwerp? Is she going to a local school or an international one?

Dutch is the majority language there AFAIK so it's likely to be the most useful to her socially. As you say, your DP speaks fluent French and would be able to help her learn that. She's likely to pick it up from the environment anyway, if you try to force her to learn it she'll just rebel and probably refuse to learn any other other language.

Dutch isn't that hard to lean (IME) and once she speaks it she's 50% on the way to speaking German too...

Am a just a teeny bit jealous, I love Antwerpen. As well as 1001 fab boutiques they have a Mac cosmetics shop envy

natation Thu 12-Aug-10 11:33:09

I am assuming your daughter is going to an international school as there is no choice of language between Dutch and French in a local school, plus the local schools don´t start for another 3 weeks.

I´d definitely go for Dutch, unless there are overiding factors like knowing you will be moving on to a French speaking country afterwards. Your daughter can integrate into local activities around Antwerpen, she will not be able to do this in French.

How old is your daughter? You know that children´s activities are very very cheap in Belgium, you can offset their activities against your tax bill, get refunds from your health insurance. There is a great organisation called BLOSO which runs day and residential courses during the holidays, our daughter is doing a 5 day residential pony riding course for example for around 200 euro with BLOSO.

Antwerpen is a lovely city. You should be very very happy here.

kreecherlivesupstairs Thu 12-Aug-10 12:17:27

Wow, thanks for the fast replies. DD is 9, so going into fourth grade in an International school. She already has three years of German under her belt so it should make the Dutch easier. I think we will go with that, assuming there is enough space in the classes.
Loving Antwerp at the moment, the people are so friendly and the scenary so beautiful (and flat after Switzerland!)

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natation Thu 12-Aug-10 15:08:45

IF you are interested in learning Dutch too, there are plenty of courses, at varying speeds and frequency which are almost free, you pay only for materials.

There is a Central Reference Agency for thses courses where they will match you to available courses, called Huis van her Nederlands.

One of these providers of Dutch courses in Antwerpen is CVO Antwerpen Zuid.

I use Dutch and German where I work, my Dutch is at a basic level but I do find myself often talking to Germans in Dutch, some words are just too similar. Your daughter should find Dutch a breeze, you can guess alot of Dutch if you already know English and German, ven without a single lesson of Dutch, you should be able to read simple sentences.

Portofino Thu 12-Aug-10 18:06:46

Agree with natation - she will find Dutch a breeze if she speaks German. I did it at school and with English I find I can follow conversation without too much effort. If you stay in Belgium long term she will find plenty of opportunity to learn French. Most people I work with seem to use the 3 languages almost interchangeably. It makes meetings interesting!

If she speaks the local lingo it will make making friends easier and also agree with nat that the stuff laid on for kids in Belgium is incredible. Dd has done a few weeks at the commune run holiday club.... Next week she is off to the coast to do a cooking workshop, followed by a week of swimming lessons and multi sports.

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