Leontine is coordinator of the Taalthuis teachers. Quite a job, managing the timetable of up to 90 Dutch teachers! We ask Leontien about what she loves about her job, why she thinks Taalthuis is special and what she means when she says ‘gezellig’!
What is that you love about your job?
Where do I start? First of all, I love the social aspect of my job. Every teacher is different: they have different personalities and different qualities. My job is to place the most suitable teacher in front of each different group of students. That’s a big puzzle; it’s helpful to really know the teachers well. I’m managing up to 90 teachers!
How come so many?
Pre-pandemic, we were merely teaching Dutch in-class, in seven cities in the Netherlands. Covid-10 made it impossible to continue teaching in-class, for which we had to be creative. We started teaching Dutch online, and that’s when we discovered that there was high demand for Dutch classes not only in the Netherlands, but also outside of the Netherlands. We now have course participants from all over the world: The United States, India, Turkey – you name it! It has led to a massive growth of Taalthuis, for which we needed many more teachers.
The good thing is that now, our teachers do not necessarily need to live anywhere near one of the cities we physically teach in anymore. Wherever they live, they can always teach Dutch online!
Besides speaking Dutch fluently, what other requirements do you have when it comes to selecting your Dutch teachers?
Our teachers need to come across as energetic, positive and are charismatic – that’s the most important, by far. When we meet our potential teachers and we get all hyped up ourselves, we consider that to be a good sign. Learning Dutch can be a challenge, so a motivating teacher is key!
What makes Taalthuis different?
What differentiates us, is that we create our own teaching material. Every level has its own book, and we offer additional e-learning. This is constantly in development and we make sure for our teachers to be involved in the development of our class material, as in the end, they know best what their students need.
What else do you love about your job?
My colleagues are very ‘gezellig’. Gezellig is a Dutch word which is almost impossible to translate. It means something like: ‘we have a good time’ or ‘it’s fun and nice when we’re together’. Together with my colleagues, we really work with passion on presenting a great service to our students. That’s just energizing!