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.

Action steps

  • Decide how you want your child to learn Dutch: by going to a local school, by taking language courses, by doing social activities in Dutch etc. The younger your child is, the easier it will be for your child to learn Dutch without any specific effort, just by being surrounded by Dutch-speaking people.

At school:

  • Some local primary schools with several non-Dutch speaking newcomers, give (language) support to these children. Contact the primary school of your choice to ask about their support for non-Dutch speaking newcomers.
  • For non-Dutch speaking newcomers who want to attend a local secondary school, introduction classes with an 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-Albertuscollege Heverlee.  After one or two years in an Introduction Class, pupils can attend a local secondary school.
  • The International school of Leuven provides lessons in Dutch and has a transition program for children who want to attend a local school later on.

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.
  • There is a lot on offer for out-of-school social activities for children (sports, arts, youth movements…) in which they can practice their Dutch. See the list of suppliers below.
  • 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 acquirement. Contact the Youth department (Jeugddienst) to get an overview of the possibilities.

Attention points

  • Be aware that for specific activities (e.g. summer camps) it might be important to register well in advance. Enquire early on about the possibilities.

Suppliers, channels and tools