You come across them everywhere: Dutch entrepreneurs abroad. Why did they ever leave with the northern sun and is the grass really that much greener across the street? This week: Wendy van Dalen, who gives children Dutch lessons online all over the world.
Expat children who have no idea who Sinterklaas is and do not speak the Dutch language: Dutch for Children, the company of Wendy van Dalen, started with them. She lived in Rijswijk and there was a great demand for high-quality Dutch lessons in that expo environment.
Van Dalen lived on Aruba, in Madrid, then again in the Netherlands, then Curaçao and currently with her family in the Dominican Republic. Her company Dutch for Children travels with her. The entrepreneur now has a team of five teachers behind him and all lessons are given online by Dutch teachers from all over the world.
Wendy van Dalen gives children Dutch lessons online all over the world. (Photo: Private collection)
"I wanted a switch"
"When we were living in Madrid, I was looking for a place where my daughter could speak Dutch and with other mothers I founded a kind of playgroup with Dutch children. That was so nice that after four years in Madrid I went to the Netherlands "says Van Dalen.
"Sometimes it is puzzling with the time difference, because our teachers are everywhere, from the Netherlands to Sydney."
"I worked as an organizational psychologist, but I wanted a switch. I often clashed with managers and didn't enjoy working anymore. Standing in front of the class is, but I haven't done that for very long. The classes became more and more full More and more care children were added who I could not provide the guidance that I wanted to provide and that they needed. That's how I started Dutch for Children. "
First from home and when demand grew from the rest of the country, Van Dalen also started offering the lessons online. "I didn't know if I could do that and started with my niece. She needed help with English, and I taught her online. It went so well that I had faith in it! "
Keep talking Dutch
Van Dalen teaches expat children the Dutch language and culture, but wanted to travel again. Her husband is sent to Curaçao for his work and Van Dalen and the children go with him. "I just took my company with me and from then on the online part grew explosively."
The clientele is expanding, she says: instead of foreign children learning Dutch, the focus is shifting to Dutch children abroad. "Almost all the children I teach have a Dutch parent. They want their child not to forsake Dutch, that they can keep talking to their grandparents and possibly return to a Dutch school when the family moves back."
"Children can still be so intelligent, but due to a language delay, they are unable to follow Dutch education at their own level."
Children absorb a new language like that, become a world guide abroad, but when the family returns to the Netherlands, their Dutch is not at the same level as that of their peers, says Van Dalen. "People often think about it easily and forget that the Dutch of a child growing up abroad is not at the same level as that of a Dutch child following Dutch education. That is sometimes painful. Children can still be so intelligent, but because because of a language deficiency, they are unable to follow Dutch education at their own level. They often have to start a group lower. Although that is not a bad social move, parents often feel bad about it. "
After a few years in Curaçao, the family leaves for the Dominican Republic. The Van Dalen family likes the southern vibe, and they know Curaçao after three years. Dutch for Children, with a large clientele and teachers all over the world, effortlessly moves with it. "Many of our customers come from Houston. That happened through an online forum and word of mouth. Sometimes it is puzzling with the time difference, because our teachers are everywhere, from the Netherlands to Sydney.
Bored and tired behind the laptop
Whether children are waiting for extra language lessons via the computer? "In the six years that we have been doing this, I actually only had one child who really, really didn't like it. And of course children sometimes get tired and bored in front of the computer. It is also an extra lesson, in addition to school and other activities , and sometimes we give classes early in the morning, before their school starts. "
"If a child really doesn't feel like it, we invent something else and put the lessons aside. Recently a child really didn't want to work on his language lessons and then our teacher got him to put all his hugs in his room showed and she gave letters You always have to come up with something new and with humor you achieve a lot Usually the lessons are really a party For an hour a teacher with all his or her attention, all for you alone: which child thinks isn't that wonderful? "