Bilingual education at the Visser 't Hooft Lyceum


From the first year at the Visser ‘t Hooft Lyceum in Leiden, you can choose bilingual education at havo, atheneum and gymnasium level.

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions from parents and pupils about bilingual education at the Visser. Do you have any more questions? If so, please feel free to contact me via the mail.

Melissa Stevens, coordinator bilingual education

What is bilingual education?

Bilingual education aims to prepare students well for an increasingly international society. That requires knowledge of languages, as well as knowledge of Europe and experience with the countries around us. So bilingual education has 2 important goals: improving language skills and providing a European and international perspective. Language thus becomes embedded in a broad, internationally-oriented context. Bilingual education prepares you well for higher and university education in the Netherlands, but particularly abroad. Having command of two languages sharpens your mind and gives you tools and skills to learn and study. We call that empowerment.

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Junior school
From the first year, you choose bilingual education. In the junior school, that means that you do more than half of your courses in English. These include history, maths, biology, religious education, drawing and gymnastics. You start classes in English from the very first day. ‘Immersion’ really is the best way. Of course, the teachers take time to explain everything. At the start, they also use Dutch words where necessary to help you. And don’t forget: nearly everyone is just embarking on bilingual education, so don’t worry if your English isn’t that good yet.

Senior school
Most courses in the 4th year are exam subjects. These are tested in Dutch. For students from abroad we have to consider that. As a bilingual education student, you are also prepared for the IB exam (International Baccelaureate). This makes it easier for you to access to many universities abroad. The other courses given in English are Social Studies, Global Perspectives and Religious Education. You also write your dissertation in English.
In recent years, our success rate has been 100%, both for the Cambridge checkpoint exam in year three and for the IB


More than just lessons in English
Bilingual education is not just about doing classes in English. Extra activities are also organised. These include project days, excursions and shows aimed at students in bilingual education. By applying English a lot in practice, you learn to use the language really well.
In the spring, the bilingual education first years spend three days in Canterbury (England). In the second year, the programme includes a three day Ameland project and in the third year there is an exchange with a school abroad.

For whom?
You certainly need not have been brought up bilingual to be able to follow bilingual education. It is more about pupils learning another language to a high level besides their native language. Pupils who have been brought up bilingual may join us too, of course. Often they can improve the language they are less good at. At the Visser, we start bilingual education with the basics, because everyone comes in at a different level. We start with ‘survival English’: anyone who is dropped off in Manchester, for example, will certainly find their way home. The level rises fast, though: “slow start - fast finish”.

Motivation and a feeling for language are important. Doing lessons in English is an investment and you must really want it yourself. We also look at the advice from your primary school and the CITO-score.

If the student who wishes to apply for tto did not (or briefly) attend a Dutch primary school, we use a different application procedure. After all, tto is a bilingual programme, i.e. English ánd Dutch. We have to take into account that the student's knowledge of Dutch is such that he can keep up with his/her classmates who are (primarily) native speakers of Dutch. We recommend to have a look at the description of that procedure here.

Interested? Any more questions?

Call: 071-5171661 or send an e-mail to:

Mrs Melissa Stevens (coordinator bilingual education)

Mr Pijnappel (team leader first year class)