How can I become a teacher at a bilingual school in the Netherlands?

In short

For teachers in bilingual education, the same criteria apply as for teachers at other secondary schools: you will need to possess a second or first degree teaching qualification. Additionally, bilingual school teachers must also have sufficient command of the English language.

How can I become a teacher at a bilingual school in the Netherlands?

Are you curious about teaching possibilities in bilingual education? There is a growing number of Dutch schools where many of the subjects are taught in English. These are called bilingual schools (tweetalig onderwijs; tto). In this article, we explain what bilingual education is, how it works and how you can become a teacher at a bilingual school.

What is bilingual education?

Bilingual education is a part of secondary education (voortgezet onderwijs). Both teachers and students at a bilingual school speak English in subjects such as history, geography, biology and gymnastics. English is not only the instruction language, but also the language in which students and teacher communicate during these classes. This means that every teacher at a bilingual school must have a high command of English, and, in a way, also functions as a language teacher. Students also speak English among themselves when they work together or have questions.


In the first three years (onderbouw) at bilingual schools, at least half of the subjects are taught in English on havo/vwo level, and 30% of the subjects at vmbo level. In the final three years (bovenbouw), the percentage is lower: about 25%. This enables students to practice and get familiar with the subjects in Dutch before they participate in the national final exams, which are in Dutch. After graduation, students obtain a diploma at one of the following education levels: university preparatory level (vwo), senior general secondary level (havo) or preparatory vocational secondary level (vmbo). Havo and vwo students from bilingual schools additionally obtain an International Baccalaureate (IB) certificate for the subject of English, or a Cambridge International (CI) certificate for the subject of Global Perspectives and another subject of their choice.

Which subjects are taught in English?

At bilingual schools, the goal is to teach as many subjects as possible in English. Mathematics, biology, geography, history, art, physics, chemistry, economics, gymnastics and of course English are examples of subjects taught in English instead of Dutch. Dutch and other modern languages such as French, German, Spanish and Chinese are often taught in the language of that same subject. Individual school boards decide which subjects are taught in English and which subjects are taught in Dutch.

How do I become a teacher at a bilingual school?

For teachers at bilingual schools, the same criteria apply as for teachers at other secondary schools (middelbare school). Thus, teaching at a secondary school requires a second or first degree teaching qualification (or a foreign equivalent that has been certified by DUO). With a second degree qualification, you can teach in mbo, vmbo and the first three years of havo and vwo. If you want to be able to teach the final three years of havo and vwo as well, you must have a first degree qualification. These qualifications can be obtained by following a fulltime or parttime teacher training program at a research university (universiteit) or a university of applied sciences (hogeschool), or through a side-entry program (zij-instroomtraject).

We are currently working on the translations of articles about different teaching qualifications. In the meantime, you can find the Dutch article here.

Additionally, teachers must be sufficiently proficient in English in order to teach at a bilingual school. Your command of the language must be at least at level B2 or C1 as defined by the Common European Framework of References (CEFR). However, you are not always strictly required to be proficient at this level at the start of your teaching employment. In some cases, the school under which you are employed can organize (and pay for) extra training that focuses on teaching in bilingual secondary schools and improving your English proficiency. You can find some of these trainings on Nuffic’s website.



Which schools offer bilingual education?

There are currently 130 bilingual schools in the Netherlands. Bilingual education is mostly offered at havo/vwo level, but the number of bilingual vmbo schools is continuously increasing. You can find an overview of all bilingual secondary schools here. There are several primary schools in the Netherlands that participate in a bilingual education pilot, and there are also bilingual mbo schools (post-secondary vocational education and training).



Do you have any questions regarding the qualifications that are needed to become a teacher in bilingual education in the Netherlands? Contact us through our contact page. For additional information about bilingual education, you can visit Nuffic’s website.

International schools

There are different types of international education in the Netherlands. Most international, foreign and embassy schools are categorized as b4-schools, which means that they are private schools which are not funded by the Dutch government. The language of instruction differs per international or foreign school, depending on the country of authority. The rules of their respective country or school board apply to these schools. For example, if you want to teach at a French school, you will need the qualifications and diplomas that France requires from teachers. The Dutch requirements do not apply.

Bilingual schools are Dutch public schools that are internationally oriented and have international departments. As explained above, the Dutch requirements for qualification do apply at bilingual schools, because they comply to the Dutch law.

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