Social Issues: Language & Integration
Author: Christine Fischer– 7th August 2014
Learning the language of the country you live in is helpful in feeling fully integrated in your new home. In Omniglot’s article The Importance of Learning the Language in a New Country by Ivana Vitali, the author points out that second language (or 3rd or 4th, for that matter) acquisition helps one in looking for work, making new friends and in simply getting things done.
In daily life for example it would be easier for a plumber to unclog your drain if you can explain to him what exactly the problem is. For bureaucratic conundrums, how much easier to point out that one mistake in your pile of Dutch administration papers, when you can clearly and precisely make yourself understood. Whether you are here for a short period or have decided to settle down, being able to get one’s point across is liberating.
Attending official courses like those given at Kickstart, Direct Dutch Institute, & BSN Language Centre are a great start. These help in giving each participant a firm foundation in the Dutch language. They also prepare you to take exams, which will help you achieve necessary accreditations like the NT2, that make one more marketable in the Dutch labor market. Practicing what you learn outside the classroom is very important. However, sometimes practicing Dutch in one’s local community can be (though not always) an obstacle course of frustration. One local will always switch to English as soon as you say “Goede Morgen.” Another will only speak Dutch but scowls every time you try to utter a sound; especially the “chocking” G sounds that scares many a non-native speaker from ever uttering a word of Dutch. Having such experiences can leave one feeling disenfranchised.
Don’t fret! There are places to practice Dutch outside the classroom that are welcoming. WINWIDE is one such organization. If you are living in the Hague area, it doesn’t matter if you are a newcomer, a student or young professional; WINWIDE welcomes everyone!
This is an organization that allows its participants to not only practice the Dutch language but to truly start participating in Dutch society. It welcomes everyone that wishes to practice Dutch; even newcomers who do not yet speak Dutch very well, have the possibility of being paired with a language buddy to help them. The topics covered in WINWIDE’s various projects are meaningful and relate to common societal issues.
One such project is called AlleTonenTafels (ATT); tables where people eat, drink, socialize and you can hear accents from around the world. Through this medium, locals and internationals are given the opportunity to use their potential and abilities to organize ATT debate tables and other ATT intercultural projects, which pay close attention to social and civic issues.
Some of the topics covered in the past have included: 2009-2010 – Diversity; 2010-2011 – Human Rights; and in 2012-2013 – Education and Creative Development. The 2014 – 2015 discussion cycle is promising with topics relating to contemporary integration, equality, and participation issues. Sessions look particularly at integration and government policy as well as emancipation as it relates to world religions and philosophical streams.
Sandra Winifred Fransz
The driving force behind WINWIDE is Sandra Winifred Fransz. Sandra founded WINWIDE in 2009 and is the creator of the ATT concept. She uses her past 25 years of gas & oil industry management assistant experience to great effect. Having lived and worked in France, Spain, and Germany she has first hand experience of what it means to be an international, an expat.
Educationally she finished her counseling & coaching studies in 2007 with a major in integration and a specialty in work environments, life cycles and multicultural society. Her fieldwork led her to coach and counsel higher educated migrant women to facilitate their integration in the Netherlands.
She discovered that women in particular had few opportunities to practice the Dutch language often due to very few opportunities to come into contact with Dutch natives in a welcoming social environment. This was a great impetus in creating AlleTonenTafels. She saw a need and knew it had to be filled.
From here ATT’s were created for women, men, and gender mixed groups. Each table strives to have well-integrated participation with people from various demographics represented at each table. To date more than 1000 women and men from over 50 different countries, including Holland, have participated in the ATT projects. This is what WINWIDE is all about…valuing difference, utilizing the common bond of speaking the Dutch language; each person’s beautiful accent making the conversation richer both metaphorically and literally.
WINWIDE organizes regular Meet, Greet & Eat – [MG&E] events where internationals can meet locals, expand their networks and have in-depth discussion about civic and social subjects from an intercultural perspective.
MG&E’s take place at Resto VanHarte’s; Resto, Diamanthorst 183, The Hague ; the entrance fee is € 6 incl. dinner. The next one is scheduled for Friday, September 5th; Theme: Ancient Culture and Nature Religion; 17.30h For future MG&E’s please check the WinWide website.
Excitingly, for the first time, WinWide is organizing an international-AllTonesTable in Muzee for the international community on 12th November at 17:30h in Scheveningen, Neptunisstraat 90/92 . The theme is Integration, Peace and Human rights.The Table will be multilingual, so people can both practice their Dutch and talk in their own language.
A team known as a “work-group” will organize this evening. The work-group will give one a chance to meet other expats as well as Dutch residents while practicing Dutch. The meetings are both in Dutch and English. WinWide needs your help with the organizational part of the evening as well as in choosing the best content. Some basic understanding of the Dutch language is a plus. Thus, if you are interested in participating in the Dutch Community while learning and practicing the Dutch language? Come and join the WinWide Team.
The first meeting will be on 10 September at 19.30 h. This is an orientation evening where people can get to know each other and discuss themes regarding the topics for the event.
For registration and/or more information about the Schevenigen ATT, you can contact Diana, email@example.com
Moreover, WINWIDE is looking for volunteers for their Youth Participation Team (YPT), Culinary Team, Public Relations & Communications Team (PRC), and WINWIDE’s AlleTonesChoir (ATC). If you would like to get involved do not hesitate to contact Contact Sandra when you have questions or want more information:
Sandra Fransz: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 06 24520149
Many thanks to Sandra Fransz for providing her time and expertise to help with the creation of this article. www.winwide.nl/english/