ESL Teaching Guide - The Netherlands

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Paulien Straathof - June 2004

I'm 51 years old and I've been a EFL teacher in Holland since 1985. At the moment I teach at a school for adults with little education, mostly middle-aged people. Some of them are originally from other countries but most of them are Dutch.

I like this job very much because these people are extremely motivated and grateful to discover that they can learn after all. It gives them (and me) much satisfaction, especially in the beginning. After some time they experience that learning at their age takes a lot of time and energy and that they forget easily. And the grammar is a problem because they hardly know any grammar terms at all. But still we all enjoy the lessons very much.

I play games and all do all kinds of exercises to get them to talk. We don't work with the computer yet (although we have plenty of computers in the classroom) because we don't have any software or other sources for it. The government pays most of the cost so the students pay little: €100 for 40 lessons of 2½ hours (once a week).There are 10 to 16 people in a group.

I also teach Dutch as a second language and I give computer lessons. I work 30 hours a week and my salary is about €1600 a month (net).

Mr. R - May 2004

I'm currently teaching in a town called Spijkenisse.

Positive aspects: Very challenging, much variation, never a dull moment, youngsters between 12 and 16/17 years so in the middle of growing-up. Gratefulness (sometimes) Mediation between school and parents. Tutorship (although often very hectic) Youngsters keep you sharp. First formers' pure reaction.

Worrying aspects: Discipline and respect diminishing. (is mirroring Dutch society which is socially getting rougher all the time) More energy required for class management. Low esteem for this job (as well as for policemen) Learning methods not always in line with requirements for later. Too much red tape (Government) so much meeting-mania at school. The increasing financial and social problems families have. Divorce rate almost 50% so many single parents. Cultural differences/risks.

The remuneration largely depends on your age and the number of years you have been teaching. Also the degree (first or second) First degree teachers get a higher salary as they are entitled to teach graduating students. They had to study approx. 2 years longer for this when compared to second degrees. Rough indication: between 30,000 and 45,000 per year. There is a holiday bonus included.

At current we have 1200 students, about 85 teachers and some support staff. The building is 20 years old. It is still a workable environment but it needs refurbishing/expansion due to increasing use of ICT and linguistic requirements.

In Holland we still have a large share of house rental. The average rent per month is between €400 and €600/800 for a one family home. Same applies for apartments. The cost of living has risen sharply due to the introduction of the Euro. This in combination with increased taxation and cuts in Government spending budget.

Suggested Reading

Holland (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
The Rough Guide to Amsterdam (Rough Guide. Amsterdam)
Insight Guide Holland (Insight Guides)
The Rough Guide to the Netherlands (Rough Guide. the Netherlands)
Fodor's Holland, 2nd Edition

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