Learning Dutch for Children

If you are planning to stay in Leuven/Belgium for a longer period of time, it might be useful for your children to learn Dutch.

International House Leuven
26 January 2024

First things first, it's worth it to spend some time thinking about how you want your child to learn Dutch. There are a few options, for example, by going to a local school, by taking language courses, or by doing social activities in Dutch. The younger your child is, the easier it will be for them to learn Dutch without any specific effort, just by being surrounded by Dutch-speaking people will help immensely.

Learning Dutch at school

Some local primary schools give language support if there are several non-Dutch-speaking newcomers. It depends on a few factors like the year, how many kids need the support and the timings. We suggest you contact the primary school of your choice to ask about their options for non Dutch-speaking newcomers.

Have you not decided which school to send your child to yet? If language support is an important factor for you, make sure to ask the school when you visit.

If you would like to send your child to an English-speaking (private) primary school and take Dutch classes on the side, then the International School of Leuven is worth looking into.

For non-Dutch-speaking newcomers who want to attend a local secondary school, introduction classes with extensive Dutch language training (‘OKAN’-classes) are organized in the following schools: Heilig-Hart Instituut Kessel-Lo, Go! Middenschool Ter Beuke Kessel-Lo and Sint-Albertus College Heverlee. After one or two years in a Dutch Introduction Class, pupils can attend a local secondary school.

Tips for learning Dutch in free time

  • Register your children with the library of Leuven. A subscription is free of charge for children under 18, and the library offers a range of books, audio books, movies, simplified newspapers, grammar books, comics, … specifically for non Dutch-speaking children. Ask at the reception at the library for more info!
  • There is a lot on offer for out-of-school social activities for children (sports, arts, youth movements…) where they can practice their Dutch.
  • To retain your children’s Dutch proficiency over the summer, you can sign them up to different activities (summer camps, sports activities…) that are organized in Leuven. Several of these activities give special attention to Dutch language learning. Read our articles about the different holiday camps, linked here (note that it is important to register as early as possible, as the camps fill up quickly). You can also contact the Youth department (Jeugddienst) to get an overview of the possibilities.

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This page was last updated on: 14 March 2024