What does HWC offer in terms of bilingual education?

At HWC we offer bilingual education within the vmbo-t, havo and vwo programmes. Bilingual education is based on 3 pillars:
  1. language proficiency in English at a high level;
  2. world citizenship;
  3. personal development.

So what does bilingual education look like in practice?

In the first three years of the havo and vwo programmes, at least 50% of the subjects are taught in English. In the first two years of the vmbo-t programme more than 30% of subjects are taught in English. In principle, each bilingual subjects is taught entirely in English, although a small number of subjects in the vmbo-t programme are sometimes taught in Dutch. Both the standard lesson programme and the extracurricular programme have an obligatory international orientation. School exchange trips within Europe are part of the programme.  Pupils are also trained for the national Dutch final examinations.
In the third year all bilingual pupils take an Anglia exam.

What is the added value of bilingual education?

Pupils who have followed bilingual education feel at home in the world. They feel at ease in an intercultural and/or international context, both close to home and further away. They speak and write excellent English and can communicate in it almost as well as in their native language.
This makes it easier for them if they continue their education at mbo, hbo or university level, as more and more programmes are offered partly or fully in English. There is also an obvious benefit for those who wish to continue their studies abroad.

Is bilingual education limited to the lower years?

In the first three years of the havo and vwo programmes about 50% to 60% of the subjects are taught in English, while 30% of the subjects in English within the vmbo-t programme. In the upper years of vwo and vmbo-t a more limited number of subjects is taught in English because of the preparation for the national Dutch final examinations. The upper years of the bilingual havo programme have yet to be arranged. In addition, pupils in the upper years of vwo can take the International Baccalaureate (IB) subject ‘English Language A: Language and Literature’.

What subjects are taught in English at HWC?

In Tvwo 1 the following subjects are taught in English: geography, history, biology, mathematics, art & crafts, art & design, physical education (PE), music and drama. And of course English. In year 2, science and IA (International Awareness) are added and in the third year economics and physics and chemistry.
The English-taught subjects in Thavo 1 are as follows: geography, history, biology, mathematics, religious education, physical education, music and drama. And of course English. In the second year IA (International Awareness) is added and in the third year economics.
Tvmbo-t pupils take geography, history, biology, religious education, art and crafts, drawing, music, drama and physical education. Not all the subjects are fully taught in English.

Are pupils in the lower years first taught in Dutch for a while before they switch to English?

We work according to the immersion principle. The pupils are thrown in at the deep end immediately. That is the best way to learn English quickly. However, in the period up to the autumn break, some Dutch is spoken where necessary to aid the learning process. To support immersion, the pupils in all years receive extra lessons in English. Moreover, during English classes attention is also paid to the acquisition of difficult words in subjects such as biology, history and geography.

Will pupils continue with subjects they had in English in the lower years in Dutch again in the upper years?

Yes. After all, they take the Dutch final examinations in their final year. This requires some adjustment and getting used to terminology in year 4, especially in the science subjects, but it has not led to any problems in recent years.

Do the pupils in the final examination year also take the national Dutch final examinations for the subject of English?

Yes, but in addition, pupils at vwo level also follow the IB programme for English (Language A: language and literature). This programme provides an internationally recognised IB certificate.

What is the difference between the way in which the subject of English is offered in the lower and upper years?

The first three years focus mainly on language acquisition, while the emphasis in the upper years of the IB programme is on writing (academic skills) and the study of the literature and culture of the English-speaking world.

Can bilingual education also be combined with the “gymnasium” stream?

Yes, that is indeed possible. Tvwo pupils in particular often choose gymnasium (additional Latin and Greek) with a science profile in the upper years.

Do you have to have a bilingual background or be very good at English to participate in bilingual education?

No, definitely not. Bilingual education is designed for children whose native language is Dutch. The starting level of English is less important (the levels in the various primary schools also vary a lot) but you have to be willing to speak a lot of English and go the extra mile because it does require a bit more effort.

What is the difference between bilingual education and Cambridge English as offered at schools in the neighbourhood?

In preparing for the Cambridge exam, extra attention is paid to the four skills: speaking, listening, writing and reading. This therefore involves an extension of the basic skills offered in regular education.
Bilingual education is based on three pillars (high-level English proficiency, world citizenship and personal development). In addition to excellent speaking, you will also learn excellent "essay writing" and presenting in English. Research shows that bilingual pupils build a lasting advantage especially in vocabulary knowledge and writing skills because subject knowledge and language knowledge are offered in an integrated way (CLIL).

When can you be admitted to bilingual education?

To be admitted, you need a positive vmbo-t, havo or vwo primary school recommendation combined with good motivation, a good attitude to work and perseverance. Pupils with a vmbo-t/havo recommendation are placed in the bilingual vmbo-t department. Pupils with a havo/vwo recommendation are placed in the bilingual havo department. We are currently investigating the possibility of transferring Tvmbo-t pupils to Thavo 3 after the two-year bridging period and Thavo pupils to Tvwo 3 after the two-year bridging period.
A 'bilingual attitude' (i.e. the willingness to speak a lot of English in class) is also essential. In addition, command of the Dutch language must be in good order.
If we were to find that bilingual education is less suitable for your child then we will contact you. We can then put your child in the registration group for Dutch taught programme if you wish.

How does the school determine this?

On Monday afternoon 8 April 2024 an intake session will take place for Thavo, on Tuesday 9 April 2024 for Tvmbo-t and on Wednesday 10 April 2024 for Tvwo. This session consists of an individual interview (partly in English), a writing assignment in Dutch and a written test in English. Pupils are invited for this intake session by letter.

How many children can be placed in bilingual education?

A first and second bilingual year class will have no more than 28 children.

What if there are more applications than places?

If there are more registrations than available places, we will draw lots. In the event that your child is not given a place at HWC, the central procedure for enrolment and drawing of lots will start.

Do pupils who participate in bilingual education receive a special diploma or certificate?

Pupils do not receive an official diploma, but they do receive a certificate issued by Nuffic. At the end of the third year, havo and vwo pupils will receive a Junior certificate upon successful completion of the lower years; at the presentation of the IB certificates, Tvwo pupils will also receive a Tvwo Senior certificate. Tvmbo-t pupils receive a certificate after 4 years.

What training do teachers receive to teach in English?

All teachers who teach in the bilingual programmes are trained to the level of the Cambridge Proficiency diploma. They also take refresher courses in the UK and with colleagues in other bilingual schools. There is regular training in the field of CLIL teaching methodology. CLIL stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning. This means that every subject teacher can support pupils in acquiring the language belonging to the specific subject through active teaching methods.

Are there any "native speakers" in the school?

Yes, there are a few teachers for whom English is the mother tongue, but most teachers have a Dutch background and they have had special training to teach in English.

Is that necessarily British English?

No, not necessarily. The training programme does focus on British English, but native speakers can also come from the U.S., Australia, etc.

What are the final exam results of pupils in bilingual education like?

The Tvmbo-t students have either got results similar to the average national exam results or even higher. Most of them have also taken an extra subject.
Over the last thirteen years, in addition to having obtained an IB certificate, all Tvwo pupils have also passed their final examinations with very good results. In fact, they have achieved better results than regular vwo pupils in all final exam subjects.

To what extent does all this English affect the Dutch of pupils in bilingual education?

Dutch is and remains their mother tongue; so far no (negative) consequences have been observed regarding the command of Dutch. Needless to say, we keep a close eye on this.

How are the other foreign languages taught?

The starting point for modern foreign languages is ‘target language = language of instruction’. This means that German is taught in German and French in French.

Do the subjects pay specific attention to international issues?

There is an extensive extracurricular programme, including English-speaking guest teachers, a Shakespeare performance that is rehearsed together with an English theatre company, as well as English-speaking excursions. A four-day trip to England is planned for year 2 and an exchange with a school within Europe for year 3. These are all obligatory components of the bilingual programme.
European and international orientation is a set part of the bilingual programme, being included in the history, geography and economics curricula. International Awareness is a separate subject on the timetable in year 2 and 3 for havo and vwo pupils.

Are parents also involved in the development of bilingual education?

Yes, the school has set up a parent contact group with parents of bilingual pupils from every year. This group meets regularly with the team leaders to discuss anything related to the programme.
Are there any additional costs associated with bilingual education?
The costs for Tvmbo-t for the school year 2023–2024 have been set at € 250,- per year.
The costs for Thavo and Tvwo in the lower and upper years for the school year 2023–2024 have been set at € 495,- per year.
The funds will be used mainly to pay for extra extracurricular activities (e.g. trips in year 2 and 3), as well as for exam costs in the third year and in the exam year (IB exams). Another part of the funds is earmarked as a contribution to the extra lessons and training of teachers, as well as the purchase of additional teaching materials and equipment.

How do you know if the quality of the bilingual programme is up to scratch?

NUFFIC stimulates and coordinates bilingual education in the Netherlands and, together with the TTO Network, has developed a set of requirements, a so-called standard, which all TTO school must meet. Every five years, the TTO accreditation has to be renewed by means of a thorough visitation process. Our bilingual vwo department has been found to meet the standards since November 2009 and is recognized as a TTO Senior School. Our Tvmbo-t department is also a fully qualified bilingual department. After a NUFFIC visitation in 2022, our bilingual Thavo department (which started in 2019) gained accreditation as a TTO Junior School. 

Are the schools offering bilingual education in contact with each other?

Yes, they are united in a national network in which they exchange experiences and make use of each other's expertise. In addition, HWC is also part of a regional network.

How can I find out more about bilingual education at HWC?

On Tuesday 27 February 2024  there is a special information evening for Thavo and Tvwo and on Thursday 29 February 2024 there is a similar session for Tvmbo-t. On these evenings we will be organising bilingual classes for year 8 pupils only.
Please register beforehand on the HWC website.

You can also make an appointment with Mrs. Pauline de Die (team leader for Tvwo 1, 2, 3 and Thavo 1, 2), with Mr Robert Claassen (vmbo-T teamleader for both the bilingual and the Dutch-taught programme), or with Mrs. Hilde van Stelten (deputy head).
You can contact them at the following email addresses:
Mrs De Die: die@hethwc.nl
Mr Claassen: clar@hethwc.nl
Mrs Van Stelten: stl@hethwc.nl