What did Jenny and Demi from England teach the children of Andijk?

Two British students came to the Dr. Kuyperschool in Andijk for an internship. Our colleague Kelly interviewed them for this Onderstroom Magazine. What can we learn from eachother?

What steps are there to be selected for this internship?

Demi: It all started from a lecture presented to us about the Netherlands programme and what it included.

Jenny: Then we were given the opportunity to meet up with Trevor to receive more information and details. After this, we submitted a letter of interest stating why we were suitable for the programme and wanted to take part.

Demi: After we had submitted the letters, Trevor and his team selected students he would like to interview for the programme and who he thought were suitable.

Jenny: We had our interviews with Trevor, he then narrowed down the participating students again, and sent us an email to confirm if we had been selected and the future steps.

Is the internship voluntary?

Jenny: Yes, the internship is voluntary, but I saw it as a valuable experience to compliment my initial teacher train.

Demi: Yes, it was a great opportunity to gain an insight into the way other countries primary curriculums are taught and delivered.

Do you need a certain amount of points to be able to do this internship?

Demi: There wasn’t a set regulation given to us regarding any form of points, however, reports from previous teaching experience were taken into consideration.

Jenny: The university assignments and attendance were also contributing factors to our success in being selected to be a part of this experience.

Opening Engels project

Do you need to do an internship in England as well?

Jenny: Yes, during our teacher training year, we must teach in two differing schools to gain our qualified teaching status and we all needed voluntary experience to gain our place on the course.

Demi: We are also taken to many different schools in the area to complete subject specific days – in subjects such as French, geography, English and mathematics. We also have experience days taking special needs and additional languages into consideration. During these we plan and deliver lessons to pupils we have never met before.

Is there an assignment you need to complete during your stay?
Demi: We have a 5,000-word assignment which is due in when we get home, it has been great getting the support from the other students I am living with, setting specific times to work on it together and being able to ask for advice where needed.

What is this assignment?
Jenny: Our assignment is based on the way pupils learn and how we as teachers can influence that. It has been a brilliant opportunity to have this experience to compare factors which contribute to childrens success in learning.

What do you do when you are at the school?

Jenny: The majority of our time is spent delivering English lessons to all aged students throughout the school, with the support of Dr. Kuyperschool teachers.

Demi: Outside of lessons, children have been motivated to utilise their new English skills to engage us in conversation, ask us questions or simply to practice that what they have learnt in our lessons.

Jenny: We have also been lucky enough to observe some Dutch lessons and spend time listening to students read.

Demi: We have worked with individual children who are more confident with their use of the English language, whether this is just in conversation, correcting some small errors they are making or answer any questions they have on a one-to-one basis.

Do you deliver self-made lessons or do you work with books?

Demi: We have found the best method during our time at the school was to make our own lessons as it gave the children an insight into our lives in England, engaging them and answering the questions they have, whilst teaching them new terminology and improving their use of English.

Jenny: We accessed the English scheme ‘Discovery Island’ used by the school to give us an idea of what we needed to teach and what level the children were working at in English and what their teachers had covered previously; but with help from the teachers at the school, we were able to add our own twist to the topic.

Demi: It was great to see the use of books in some Dutch lessons we observed as workbooks are not often used in England. However, after watching the lessons it was evident how much time and hassle it saved the teachers and how well the children were able to work through them at their own pace and knew exactly what they needed to complete – taking ownership of their own learning.

What’s the hardest part of this internship?

Demi: Outside of teaching, it has been very difficult trying to adapt to life in the wind and rain without a car. Our bikes have been great, but the journey has remained a challenge given the weather we have faced. We have definitely had to learn to laugh when coming home soaked through all our waterproof clothes and attempting to dry them in a sauna.

Jenny: With regards to the lessons we have taught, it has been a challenge pitching lessons at the right level, to give all children in the class the best learning opportunities and cater to the wide range of ability within a single group. At times, there has been a language barrier which has made it difficult to assert instructions, but the staff at Kuyperschool have been invaluable in overcoming this and helping children understand our requests.

Demi: Another challenged we faced at the beginning of the internship was building up the student’s confidence in themselves and their ability in English, encouraging them to talk to us and not be discouraged by the fear of making a mistake. The children soon opened up to this when they experienced our limited skills and knowledge of the Dutch language and moved past their insecurities and even managed to teach us some of the basics.

Is it hard to think of lessons for Dutch children who can’t speak English?

Jenny: At times, the language barrier has been challenging – this was less of an issue with the older children, their level of English was very impressive considering the recent introduction into the school, it was pleasant surprise for the both of us. The teachers were amazing in helping overcome any barriers we faced by translating when necessary; our lessons would not have been a success without their support.

How are you coming up with the lessons you prepare for the children?

Demi: Our lessons were initially based on what the children knew and needed to learn; however, as our time at the school went on we were able to asses things which needed to be highlighted with the children in the individual classes where they may have been going wrong and also to answer any questions they had.

When you came in the Netherlands, what was the first thing that stood out?

Jenny: When we first arrived, I was surprised to see the number of canals in the Netherlands and the differences in the housing structures.

Demi: One thing which really stood out to me was the vast amount of land around the town used for agriculture, in England it is much more industrial based with buildings dominating the landscape.

When you think of cultural things, are there any differences between England and the Netherlands? What are they?

Jenny: One of the main cultural difference I have noticed between England and the Netherlands is the outlook on health and safety. In England, this is an area with lots of guidelines and procedures, whereas in the Netherlands, this is much more relaxed, and we’ve not witnessed any detriment of this; the children are more aware and have more ownership over their own safety.

Demi: Typically, in England teachers come into the school and walk straight into the classroom, it was lovely to see the teachers able to have a discussion and spend time together, to encourage one an other first thing on a morning.

What could you give us, as a team or schools in general as a piece of advice?

Jenny: We have been impressed with the community feel of the school along side childrens own initiative in their learning. If I was to give one piece of advice it would be to encourage not only the children but also the staff to have confidence and be proud of their English skills.

Demi: It can be daunting trying to speak a different language, however, everyone we came across could speak much better English than my Dutch, and people speaking to us in English made us feel part of the school and much more comfortable. We appreciated all effort that was made to communicate with us and the teachers and pupils seemed to be a lot more capable in English than what they gave themselves credit for.

In June I’ll be traveling to Durham to observe at an English school. Is there anything I can look for while I’m in the school?

Demi: A key part of primary schools in England is their policies and their safe guarding practices. When you visit England, I would encourage you to speak to someone in the school about their policies and all the restrictions and procedures English teachers have to coincide with on a daily basis. I would encourage you to observe the way in which children arrive and leave the school, and the parental involvement.

Jenny: If you have the opportunity, speak to children about their learning experiences and outlook to the educational system. You may be surprised by the lunch time routines and differences in the learning environment; children have more structure and guidance from the adults in the school and are more regulated.

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