Dutch Integration

This information is for someone who is interested in the Dutch Integration process. I arrived in The Netherlands in the summer of 2016. Changes have been made to the process since then. For an updated list of items to complete, please visit the official website at Inburgeren or their Participation statement.

I had to complete the following list:

  • Language level A1
  • Language level A2
  • Knowledge of the Dutch Culture (Kennis van de Nederlandse Maatschappij or KNM)
  • ONA (Oriëntatie op de Nederlandse arbeidsmarkt or ONA)

These are the basic requirements for my integration. I was given 3 years to complete the above. My term started November 2016.

The I used the books from KleurRijker under the guidance from my neighbor. She has years of experience as a teacher for younger children and the patience of a saint. These books can be used for self study but I recommend looking up how to say some of the vowels early on. The Dutch language has many uncommon sounds in their words. Pronunciation is always important when learning a language.

After arriving in The Netherlands I had to apply for residential permit (I call it my fake Dutch membership). I had to prove I was in The Netherlands to be with my boyfriend. After that I was approved for my card and told I had go through the Dutch Integration process.

I started with my neighbor in October 2017 and finished the first book June 2018 with once a week meetings. From July 2018 to December we worked on the A2 twice a week. We went back to one a week meetings in January to finish the KNM book in March. I spent 2 weeks about 5 hours a day working on the ONA myself after we had finished most of the KNM book (probably early March).

The learning material

Language Book A1

Hello
An introduction to greetings and simple things like pronouns, Dutch vowels and sounds, and the words is and to be.
The School
Numbers, school vocabulary, simple verbs and phrases
Home
Introduction to items in the household, neighborhood and a few other domestic phrases.
Eating and drinking
Introduction to meal time words, how to form questions, shopping and money
The Doctor
Introduction to the body, how to make a doctor’s appointment and how to speak to doctors, dentists or pharmacy attendants
The Colors
Introduction to colors, clothing, telling time and visiting a store
Transportation
Introduction to public transport, asking for directions, and discussing traffic
Free Time
Introduction to sports, hobbies, how to fill in forms, how to speak with someone else about their hobbies, or tell them you don’t understand what they said

Language Book A2

Moving
Introduction to complex sentences, how to introduce oneself to new people, using the website Marktplaats for second hand shopping and using the OV-chip card for public transportation
Netherlands
Introduction to descriptive words, eating out, the news, the weather, following a recipe, sending mail and invitations, children, and taking a vacation
Children
Introduction to family words, making appointments, finding a job, temporary job agencies, and children’s daycare
Shops
Introduction on how to ask for an item, using a website to shop, how to complain about services, checking out at a cash register, and work hours.
Courses
Schooling in The Netherlands, how to search and read information, attending a course, taking tests, housework, and the weekend
Looking for Work
How to search for work, ask questions, attend interviews, and sending resumes or job applications
Work
Introduction to businesses, attending meetings, important signs to be aware of, asking questions, end of the work day, new coworkers and lunch breaks
The Government
Introduction to the government’s website, the structural system, and voting

KNM

The Netherlands
Introduction to the history of The Netherlands, the provinces, the capital and The Netherlands through the ages
Dutch Habits
Holidays, family traditions, hobbies and freedoms
Living
Searching for a house, utilities, renting a house maintaining it
Healthcare
Keeping good health, the doctor and drug store, visiting the hospital, other medical professionals, children healthcare, elderly care and insurance
Daycare and education
The educational system starting from birth to university
Work
Searching for work, making connections, attending meetings and a typical Dutch work system
Government
The government, the police, taxes, and loaning money
Rules and Regulations
The Dutch Democracy, rules and laws, and freedom of speech

ONA

This is done either via mail or online. Easiest is online since there’s no paperwork to misplace. The website also checks to make sure all your information has been filled in. Everything is automatically saved so it can be completed at anytime.

There are 8 cards to fill in with personal information.

Occupational orientation
Basic personal information about you
Realistic professional image
Allows you decide what kind of job you’d like to see yourself in
Know your characteristics
Take note of your personal traits and which are strong and which can be improved on
Job opportunities
Search for at least 3 listings of jobs in your chosen profession
Defending professional competences
Allows you to take a look at the job market and if your chosen profession is viable in today’s market. Also discusses what you need to do if you need a higher education to qualify for a job
Building a network
Create a list of people you can use as references in a personal network
How to find a job
Find 3 jobs, why they work for you and how you can apply
Work culture
Think and write about a few of the work place differences between your homeland and The Netherlands

The exams

There are 5 exams in total to take for integration completion.

Writing Dutch (Schrijven)
In a classroom with four pages. Three are emails and one form the student needs to fill in.

Speaking Dutch (Spreken)
In a classroom with headphones and the exam on a computer. Half of the questions need the student to record their answers in their own voice. Multiple choice questions for the other half.

Understanding spoken Dutch (Luisteren)
In a classroom with headphones and the exam on a computer. Multiple choice questions.

Reading Dutch (Lezen)
In a classroom on the computer. Multiple choice questions.

Knowledge of the Dutch culture (KNM)
In a classroom with headphones and the exam on a computer. Multiple choice questions.

Knowledge of the Dutch Job Market (ONA)
Interview with two people about the answers on the ONA. This was one of the hardest things for me to do. While most of the conversation is simple, I ran into an issue when they asked about the kind of schooling I wanted. These cards don’t allow you to opt out of anything. I’ve already had schooling for my profession and I have no desire to return. However, I still needed to list what school I wanted to attend… I put something down and moved on. Needless to say it’s been months since I looked up the information and I had forgotten about anything to do with this school. The rest went alright but that section mess up stayed with me the rest of the interview and I was dying to leave.

End note

For anyone that has to go through this process, I hope you do well! Do keep a dictionary close at hand because all information sent will be in Dutch (and I mean everything!) This even includes instructions on how to apply to learn basic Dutch… It makes no sense to someone who has no experience with the Dutch language but that’s how the government is here. Nothing can be done. Thankfully, I had Sander and my neighbor to help me through it all.

While I understand the reasons behind learning the language and history of The Netherlands, things like the ONA are a waste of time if you have work experience. I know it’s for refugees who may not have had an education or a job in their homeland but I did. I didn’t need to go through the motions of making a resume and pretending I was going to go back to school. I’ve been there and done that. It feels a bit sad to lump everyone in the same box regardless of their history.

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