What does ‘civic integration’ (inburgering) refer to? Because so many ‘old’ and ‘new’ Dutch people use these words so often, we get the impression that everyone knows what the term means. However, for many people the words ‘civic integration’ (inburgering), ‘civic integration course’ (inburgeringscursus) and ‘Civic Integration Exam’ (Inburgeringsexamen) are not clear. Many people think that ‘civic integration’ only involves learning Dutch as a second language, also referred to as NT2 (Nederlands als tweede taal). They argue that as soon as you speak the language of the country where you live, you are able to participate and, therefore, you are integrated in the country. Other people think that civic integration is mainly about meeting numerous people and doing things together with Dutch people – working together, partying together, studying together, etc. Both ideas are rather incomplete.

 

Homogenous groups of students are paramount

 

A civic integration course ensures that at the end of the trajectory the participants have a better command of speaking, understanding, writing and reading Dutch. In addition, the course participants should be able to talk with other people, i.e. Dutch conversation. At the same time, civic integration course participants get information about Dutch society, including the way people interact, the school system, and rules in the workplace. Many Dutch habits differ from customs in other countries, which is quite interesting and fun to discuss in class. New arrivals often feel more self-confident when they are aware of the differences and know what they can expect of Dutch life.

 

Civic integration courses are meant for participants who have moved to the Netherlands for quite different reasons. They include refugees, economic migrants as well as men and women who migrated to the Netherlands for romantic reasons. A high-quality civic integration course takes into account the background and needs of each course participant, and offers both language education and information about Dutch society. In addition, homogenous groups of students, that is to say people with similar language levels and learning abilities, are paramount. Diverse people, diverse desires.