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Netherlands: Language teachers criticise naturalisation exam

Professionals teaching the Dutch language to foreigners in preparation of their naturalisation exam are criticising the so-called civic integration exam. They say that the tests are too difficult, that the set-up doesn’t allow those who fail the exam to get feedback on their mistakes, that the waiting lists to take the exam are too long and more importantly that the course (and test) primarily focuses on language rather than social participation.

Many teachers feel that the situation has gone too far and that the system is flawed. Monique Schoorl of the NT2 professional association claims that it was easier to learn in previous years when participants had to get out and use the language in the housing association or during a conversation with the doctor for example. Now it’s mostly theory behind computers, she adds. In January 2017, a research also showed that the post-2013 integration policies fails migrants.

A third of those who started the course in 2013 have not yet passed the exam while the penalty for not passing the exam within three years can rack up to 1,250 euros. At the beginning of April, the education agency DUO stated that around 500 students had been fined, but the figures appear to be closer to 1,500. In 2017, 9,000 immigrants still have to pass their exam if they want to avoid the fine.

In addition to the civic integration (including language) courses, newcomers also need to sign a Participation Certificate stating their adhere to Dutch values, since July 2016.

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