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 that offer a significant part of their curriculum subjects in English. These are called bilingual schools (tweetalig onderwijs; tto). In this article, we explain what bilingual education is 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). Teachers and students at a bilingual school speak English in class for subjects like history, geography, biology and gymnastics. English is not only the instruction language, but also the language in which students and teachers communicate. This means that all teachers also function as a language teacher, besides teaching their own subject. Therefore, every teacher at a bilingual school must have a high command of English.

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 years (bovenbouw), the percentage is lower. This enables students to practice and get familiar with the subjects in Dutch before they participate in the national final exams, which are always in Dutch. Upon graduation, students receive 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 at bilingual schools additionally receive 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.

For more information about the Dutch education system, you can read through this article.

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 languages such as French, German and Spanish 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). 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 (onderbouw) of havo and vwo. If you want to be able to teach the final three years (bovenbouw) 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).

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 can organize (and pay for) extra training that focuses on teaching in bilingual secondary schools to improve your English proficiency. You can find some of these trainings on Nuffic’s website.

Which schools offer bilingual education?

There are currently around 130 bilingual schools in the Netherlands. Bilingual education is mostly offered at havo/vwo level, but the number of bilingual vmbo and mbo 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. Note that you need a different teaching qualification to teach in this sector.

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

Besides bilingual schools, there are other schools in the Netherlands that do not (only) have Dutch as the main language. Often these schools are referred to as international schools, but there are different types. Most international, foreign and embassy schools are categorized as b4-schools, which means that they are private schools and 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. For example, if you want to teach at a French school, you will need the qualifications and diplomas that France requires of teachers. The Dutch requirements by law do not apply. However, as these schools are located in the Netherlands, school boards can decide to follow the Dutch system nonetheless.

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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