Limburgs in 't oonderwies: kwatsj of zjus nuudig?

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Since the acknowledgement of Limburgish as a regional language in the European charter in 1997, teachers are allowed to use Limburgish, next to Dutch, as an instruction language in kindergarten and at primary schools. However, it turns out that not many primary schools in Limburg have a policy in place on the use of Limburgish in school. As a consequence,Limburgish is mainly limited to informal settings, including the home setting. The instruction language at schools is mainly limited to Dutch, even though – as suggested by many studies –the use of multiple languages in school would be beneficial for the development of children. The general attitude of teachers towards a language proves to have a big impact on the ways in which children are being taught and assessed. Since they are key figures in the educational process, this study seeks to find out the attitude of primary school teachers in Limburg towards the use of Limburgish in education. Its methods are both quantitative and qualitative. Questionnaires were developed, which were sent out to primary school teachers in Limburg; on top of that, primary school teachers in Limburg were interviewed on the topic. It was found, that although many of the participating teachers, as well as the children at their school, can speak Limburgish, the teachers often limit the speaking of Limburgish to informal settings (such as at home or during informal meetings with colleagues). Teachers also said to speak Limburgish to children when they needed to be comforted, in a one-on-one situation. However, as an instruction language in class, Limburgish is never used. The majority of the interviewed teachers proved to be unaware of the fact that the use of Limburgish in an educational context is formally allowed by the European charter. Furthermore, when asked in what language teachers think education should be, the majority responded ‘in Dutch only’. This is a striking outcome, since the majority of the participating teachers only had positiveassociations towards Limburgish and towards multilingualism in general. The reasons that teachers do not use Limburgish in education are many: schools often have policies in place stating that only the use of the Dutch language is allowed, teachers feel concern about children with a non-Dutch native language for whom learning Dutch is already difficult, and the teachers feel that the curriculum at school is already filled. Still, some of the participants did seem willing to implement Limburgish in a playful manner in education: through games, books or theme weeks. In order for this to happen, they would need more knowledge about available methods and materials, since they stated not to have enough educational resources at their disposal. Therefore, more attention should be paid to familiarizing people with the consequences of the European charter and to normalizing the Limburgs in ’t oonderwies: kwatsj of zjus nuudig? | 5use of Limburgish apart from the home setting, in order to establish the use of Limburgish in primary education.
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