Before I moved to Japan in January 2018 I lived in the Netherlands all my life, where I attended local Dutch schools. Therefore, Dutch is my mother tongue, while English is my second language. When my parents and I decided that we would move to Japan, I also decided that I would be doing an official online VWO Dutch program to maintain my fluency in Dutch, because I find it important to remain fully capable of expressing myself in the language I use to talk to my Dutch family and friends and it is my expectation that I will move back to the Netherlands after I graduate from YIS.

The online Dutch program focused on the following skills: critical reading, spelling, formulating, reasoning, speaking and writing. The skills were assessed through tests, written assessments, literary reports and presentations via Skype. My parents were given the task to ensure my academic honesty and integrity, by monitoring my tests and presentations.

For me, the most useful skill that I managed to further develop was critical reading. This is one of the main elements of the final VWO Dutch Language & Literature exam and it is highly regarded by Dutch universities; even when you choose a study in English or another foreign language. The reason for this is that critical reading applies to every language and, both in university and in a professional career, it is very important to be able to truly understand what you are reading, how it is significant, which parts of the text are less significant, why someone writes something (in the way they do) etc. Therefore, I am very glad that for the critical reading skill I received an 8.4 out of 10, a grade only about 10% of all students receive.

Another very important element of the VWO Dutch Language & Literature course is the literary element. I had to read six literary books over the course of half a year and write a ± 10 page-long literary report for five of those books and give a presentation about the sixth book. This certainly helped me deepen my understanding of the Dutch literature, as well as improve my reading, analyzing, writing and presentation skills.

The Dutch courses I took online were facilitated by an educational organization called Wereldschool (“World School”) and they were taught at the highest possible native Dutch high school educational level: the VWO. The final report card I received is fully accredited by the Dutch Ministry of Education. I consistently received grades of around 9 out of 10, with my final average grade being a 9; which is only awarded in 2.5% of all cases according to Nuffic, the organization for Dutch-international education. This proves the advancedness of the academic program and the grades I received.