Page 28 - Second language development of newly arrived migrant kindergarteners - Frederike Groothoff
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28 Chapter 1 is, at the end of primary school (around 12 years old), to reach the same level of language and literacy proficiency as the minimum attainment level for mainstream pupils. This minimum attainment level includes the understanding of 4,500 words and the capacity to use 2,000 words actively for kindergarteners (National Institute for Curriculum Development in the Netherlands, 2013), referring to a specific word list with basic words a child should know before entering the third year of primary school (“Group 3”), when they will start learning to read and write (Verhallen, 2009). However, an inspection of school guides and websites of separate facilities for newly arrived migrant pupils reveals that most schools only state “an appropriate level of Dutch” as end goals for time at a DL2-school, without an indication of what is meant by “appropriate.” In my own experience as a teacher at a DL2-school, I have witnessed how difficult it can be to determine when a pupil is ready to enter a mainstream school. The question namely remains: when is the Dutch language of that pupil strong enough? For mainstream schools it is also difficult to receive a pupil who has little knowledge of Dutch compared to their peers. Especially for older pupils it seems that the Dutch educational system is not well-equipped to handle pupils who need more time to catch up. 1.5 The focus, aim, and general research question of this dissertation In some municipalities, school boards have provided separate DL2-schools for newly arrived migrants. Most of these DL2-schools for newly arrived migrant pupils start in Group 3, for pupils aged 6. This means that most newly arrived migrant kindergarteners are mainstreamed after arrival, a decision that lies with school boards. Thus, when newly arrived migrant pupils are younger than seven, there are two possibilities: (1) The pupils are schooled within a separate schooling for learning Dutch as a second language (DL2) in: a. A separate language school, or b. A separate language class within a mainstream school. (2) They are mainstreamed, that is, they participate in a mainstream class (where specific attention might be paid to second language development). It is unclear on which grounds schools boards take a decision whether to open a DL2- school or class for newly arrived kindergarteners. Maarse and Muller (2017) have recently argued that decisions are mainly made based on practical considerations, concerning logistics, infrastructure, and number of pupils (Maarse & Muller, 2017), whereas following Vermeer (2015) the question should be what the best option is for an optimal development of the pupils. Newly arrived migrant kindergarteners are the population in focus in this study, as there was a specific need to explore the optimal school circumstances of young migrants in their first years in the Netherlands. The fact that in different municipalities different kinds 

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