Q&A: Freshman studies Dutch history, language online in case she returns to the Netherlands (video included)

(Photo used by permission of Schep)
Héloïse Schep works on a math problem with her dad during one of the CITO practice tests in the Netherlands. The CITO is a test that students take at the end of elementary school, sixth grade. The test determines which middle and high school students will attend.

Héloïse Schep has been attending SCDS since seventh grade. She moved from the Netherlands three years ago and currently takes Dutch school online to keep up her language skills.

Q: What is your Dutch school?

A: I go to an online Dutch school through Summar.io, which is a part of the Edufax education program. It’s set up for all the expats, which are Dutch people who live in another place.

It focuses on grammar, linguistics, reading comprehension and Dutch history. All classes are in Dutch and do not include any English instruction whatsoever. I especially like learning about Dutch history because it’s different from what we learn here. I follow it at the sophomore level, and it’s mainly to keep up with my Dutch. I’ve been doing it ever since I moved here, so for around three years now.

Q: Is the program year-round or does it follow a schedule?

A: It follows the Dutch school calendar, which means that my summer break is a lot shorter but has more breaks throughout the year.

Q: Is it an individual course or do you have an online class?

(Photo used by permission of Schep)
Héloïse Schep, right, reads a book during her class’s weekly “Reading Time” in the Netherlands. Students would go to the library or read quietly.

A: I have a class, which is about 60 people. I used to be able to see exactly where the other people were from on the website, but they removed that feature. I also can’t talk with the other people in the class. It’s not really a class experience; it’s more that there are other people in this program. I do have a teacher for my class. Her name is Leanne Vroomen. She grades all my assignments, and I Skype with her sometimes if I need to do a presentation.

Q: How is the program divided into different units?

A: Every month I get a block, which usually has a couple of lessons. And in those lessons there is one unit of grammar, literature, history, reading comprehension and so on.

Q: Do you have nightly homework assignments?

A: No, at the beginning of the month you get a big block of information that you can do whenever you want except at the end of the month when it’s due.

The assignments are made up of various things, so I’ll do a presentation, a listening part, a reading part, grammar, reading comprehension and Dutch history.

Héloïse Schep
Héloïse Schep

The presentations can be about anything. (They test) whether your proficiency in the language is as good speaking as it is reading.

All books that I read are in Dutch, and after I read them I write an essay about them. Some examples of Dutch books that I have read are: “De Wetten” by Connie Palmen, “Marcel” by Erwin Mortier, “Camera Obscura” by Hildebrand, and “Boven is Het Stil” by Gerbrand Bakker.

Q: How much time do you spend on the lessons weekly?

A: I try to limit myself to doing only a few hours per week because I want to focus on my schoolwork here. So I probably spend around two hours every week on it. And because it’s in blocks, I can adjust the program to suit my needs.

(Photo used by permission of Schep)
Héloïse Schep, left, witnesses the year’s first snow in the Netherlands with her friends in the schoolyard. In winter, students often sleigh to school.

Q: Is it harder or easier than regular school?
A: Because I’ve spoken Dutch for so long, Dutch school for me is just easy, which is why I’m at a sophomore level. But it’s always hard to keep up with all my Dutch school work.

Q: Do all Dutch students who have left the Netherlands use Summar.io?

A: No, it depends. The company my dad works for, Rabobank (a Dutch bank), that sent us abroad, recommended this to us. It’s mainly used by people who will go back (to the Netherlands). We don’t know when we will go back. My dad originally had a contract to work here for four years, so there’s a high chance I will go back this April.

But recently my family has looked into having me finish high school here in the States.

Q: Do you speak Dutch at home with your family?

A: Yes, I speak Dutch with my parents all the time at home, both because I need to keep up with my Dutch and because it’s easier for my parents since Dutch is their first language.

By David Situ

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