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Taking into account the particularities of vocational education and training in the implementation of language curricula. Ans ter Haar, De Meerwaarde, Barneveld Nynke Jansma, SLO (Netherlands institute for curriculum development) Strasbourg, 10 May 2012.

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Taking into account the particularities of vocational education and training in the implementation of language curricula

Ans ter Haar, De Meerwaarde, Barneveld

Nynke Jansma, SLO (Netherlands institute for curriculum development)

Strasbourg, 10 May 2012

VET in the Netherlands (see overview)

  • Vmbo:pre-vocational secondary education

    - individual schools

  • Mbo : senior secondary vocational education

    - so called ROC's,

    regional training centres with many different departments

Curriculum development in the Netherlands

  • National level (macro): aims, content ("WHAT")

  • Schools, teachers (meso+micro):

    further operationalization of

    the curriculum ("HOW")

Language education in vmbo

Examination syllabuses for languages in vmbo

  • One document for all foreign languages

    English, German, French, Spanish, Arabic, Turkish

  • Separate document for Dutch language

  • General part plus specifications for different language skills

General points: intercultural and multilingual aspects

  • knowing and handling one's own and other people's values and standards

  • functioning as a democratic citizen in a multicultural society, also in international contexts

  • understanding the role and importance of (foreign) languages in vocational contexts

  • understanding the role and importance of languages in international contacts

Language curriculum at De Meerwaarde (vmbo)

De Meerwaarde: app. 1650 students

Languages in the organisation

  • Subjects centred in ‘subject areas’, e.g. people and society (geography, history, economics, ….) and foreign languages.

  • Language of schooling (Dutch) and foreign languages are separate subject areas.

Languages in the curriculum

  • English and Dutch: compulsory in all years and all levels

  • German:

    • compulsory in year 2 of theoretical/combined track and advanced vocational track,

    • compulsory in year 3 of advanced vocational track economic sector; optional in year 4

    • optional in years 3 and 4 theoretical/combined track

  • French and Spanish: optional as a course

Foreign Languages

  • Implementing the CEFR into the curriculum

  • Transition from textbook learning to task-based learning

  • Tasks related to sector (year 3/4)

  • Learning by doing

  • Taking EQF into account

Foreign languages and Europe


  • German: yearly trip to Dinslaken, Germany in year 3


  • English: training exchange in European country (in combinationwith CLIL)

In Real

  • An example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh_N-sgsR_U

  • Live footage: “Small schools in one building”

Language education in mbo

Qualification dossiers mbo

  • Separate dossiers for all courses / vocations

  • Q.D. describes key tasks and work processes of the vocation.

  • Required professional knowledge, skills and competencies are mentioned with each work process.

  • Language competences are part of these (with specific discourse genres).

  • Indication of CEFR levels for foreign languages.

General requirements

Besidesspecific professional requirements:

  • General examination requirements for Dutch, English and numeracy skills.

  • General examination requirements for citizenship, including intercultural competence, understanding and respect for other cultures.

Language education in mbo

  • 'Language policy' is decided at school level.

  • Departments make their own curriculums.

  • Differences in the way teachers work together.

  • Double focus:

    • qualification dossiers

    • general examination requirements (CEFR, Dutch framework of reference)

Foreign languages in mbo

  • Number of languages taught varies (1 – 3)

  • First foreign language: generally English

  • Second / third foreign language:

    German, French, Spanish, other language (incidentally student's mother tongue)

Foreign languages in mbo (2)

  • Action oriented approach: working with vocational language tasks (with specific discourse genres)

    • Integrated in vocational assignments

    • Separately, in language courses

  • General programme for preparation of general examination (task based or other)

Foreign languages in mbo (3)

  • Work place training abroad is stimulated, sometimes compulsory.

  • Some schools offer bilingual / entirely English courses (CLIL), with international certification.

  • Example: using foreign language in a professional setting; using a language task diary in work placement.


Language task diary

Dutch language in mbo

  • Importance of language skills for work, citizenship and personal life is widely recognized.

  • Three-part approach:

    • using and training language skills in vocational contexts (assignments, projects at school, work simulation, work place training)

    • language lessons

    • individual support (remedial teaching)

Using and training language skills in vocational contexts

  • Necessary for better results, to attain the required level of proficiency.

  • Vocational teachers and language teachers work together.

  • Language tasks are included in vocational assignments, projects.

  • Vocational teachers teach in a 'language-oriented' way. (context, interaction, language support).

  • Vocational teachers need encouragement, training (e.g. by language coaches).

Using and training language skills in work place training

  • Students sometimes receive special language assignments to do at the work place or keep a language task diary.

  • Work place training supervisors are encouraged to pay attention to language proficiency and stimulate language use.

  • They need practical 'handles'. Example:

    "15 tips for language support at the shop-floor"

Language lessons and individual support

  • Sector-specific learning materials are used, if available.

  • Non-specific training for general examinations.

  • More and more: diagnosis at the beginning of the course, individual support.

    Disadvantage: no connectionswithvocationallearningprogramme.

Examination of Dutch language in mbo

  • Examination of language in vocational contexts

    • language examination totally included in vocational examination or

    • specific language assessments / tests

  • separate language examinations (general contexts)

    • part national examination (reading, listening)

    • part school examination (speaking, writing)

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