The vision of Herman Groenewegen
“My duties include leading the institute, marketing, advertising and giving Dutch language courses. In addition, I am also responsible for selecting and supervising the teachers. As well as expertise – a minimum level of HBO or preferably an academic background – the following aspects are most important in this profession: a flexible attitude, an open and unprejudiced approach, the ability to explain well and to listen carefully, a desire to become acquainted with the wishes of the customer, a willingness to develop extra materials that meet the needs of the customer, and of course a friendly, welcoming and, above all, interesting personality, able to engage in good, meaningful conversation.
In the initial interview with a candidate I like to feel at home immediately with the prospective teacher. The idea being that if I feel comfortable, then the customer will too. Giving lessons, is in the first instance, all about human contact after all. Experience comes with time, but an unpleasant personality can never be changed.
The teachers that I take on, are almost always native speakers. The advantage of this is that the whole lesson can be delivered in the target language and the customer is therefore continually busy with the language he or she is learning. A native speaker also has access to in-depth knowledge of his or her country and culture, from which the course participant can later benefit when with their foreign contacts and through which interaction will be much easier.
I think that it is possible to learn every language, but the difficulties increase the further the target language is from the mother tongue. That can be due to grammar, the sounds of the language, vocabulary, syntax or sentence melody. The challenge for the teacher is to provide insight into those difficult areas and to present them in a simple manner. For the student taking the course, it is above all a question of keeping going and of not giving up. Perseverance is paramount when learning a foreign language.
When learning a foreign language, all sorts of non-language aspects play a role. Does one have confidence? Is the student ashamed of making mistakes (this is, however, inherent in learning a foreign language!)? Does the customer feel well in general? Did he/she just have a bad day? Is there a threat of redundancy looming? A teacher has to have empathy and should – up to a certain point – take the student’s personal situation into account.
The best study results are achieved by following lessons regularly, without long gaps in between. It is also better to study for a half hour every day than three hours the day before a lesson, and to dare to use the language and not be scared of making mistakes. Course participants can often do more than they think! It is just like skating: you can’t learn it from the sidelines, you have to go out onto the ice and you learn it by falling down and getting back up again.
In order to gain control of a language from level 0, one usually needs 75 lessons of 1,5 hours. However, I normally advise course starters to take a package of 25 lessons of 1,5 hours. This enables them to establish a good basis and to get a feeling for what it is like to learn a new language. The motivation for the next series of lessons lies with the participants themselves and this is how it should be.
During the free introductory lesson of 1,5 hours the course participant forms an excellent picture of what Business Talen Rotterdam BV has to offer and the rest of the course will fully meet with expectations.”