The ALCS are conducting an investigation in ‘the state of’ Dutch language and culture studies in the UK. The full report will follow soon, but ahead of the hard facts and naked truths, we want to share some stories of colleagues we have uncovered in the process. First up is Claire van Wengen. She is tutor of Dutch with the College of Open Learning (COL) at Edinburg University.
“I have had the good fortune of growing up and going to school in the Netherlands (Oegstgeest) and studying in London. I am bilingual with Dutch and English. I have lived in Edinburgh for almost 30 years now. I trained as a French teacher (Durham University) and I hold an MSc in Language Teaching from Edinburgh University (2013).
About fifteen years ago I discovered that my true calling and passion lay in teaching Dutch so that is what I do now. I started teaching one evening class at the University of Edinburgh in 2002 and have managed to expand the small department from the original two classes (at that time there was another Dutch teacher) to four classes. From October 2017 instead of having two Beginners’ classes and a Dutch 2 and Dutch 3 we will have one Beginners’ class and also a Dutch 4 class.
The students are all incredibly enthusiastic and I was delighted to be nominated for the Best Overall Teacher Award by a number of my students. They said lovely things such as ‘Claire has fostered a genuine community around her Dutch language lessons’ and ‘Claire is extremely knowledgeable with endless patience for her students. Lessons are varied and always appropriately adapted to the needs of the class and the individual students’.
Every year I give a party for all my Dutch students and their partners and children. It is always tremendous fun and it’s wonderful to see all my students (both children and adults) connecting with each other and laughing and talking. Quite often long lasting friendships are formed which is a source of great pleasure.”