Language to learn, that's the name of the project that the municipality Amsterdam provides for residents of the city who are not subject to an integration obligation. TopTaal offers various courses from level A0 to B2.
The municipality Amsterdam makes an annual budget available for non-native speakers who do not need to integrate, but for whom it is important that they learn the customs and the language in order to better participate in society. The courses are not only aimed at improving language skills, but also at participating in society. Language & Work, Language & Personal Financial Administration, Language for Beginners and Language for Advanced taught in this context last six months.
During that time, the level of the participants is visibly increased. With more than thirty free courses that run parallel to each other, Freek Rurup, language inspector of the municipality Amsterdam, it's busy. TopTaal coordinator Ard Elzenga, together with four project leaders and four project employees, also ensures that the organization runs smoothly.
Ard says: 'We are responsible for the entire process of the municipality Amsterdam. We take care of the intakes and plan the groups. We make the material ourselves, do the administration and ensure a good relationship with the teachers and the students. Those who need more attention get it from us. And we take the different language levels into account. The more homogeneous the groups, the higher the learning yield. You can imagine that this takes quite a lot of time, when we train 1.000 to 1.500 students at the same time!'
Language coordinator Freek Rurup is outspoken in the ambitions of the municipality Amsterdam. 'We strive to get students active in Dutch society. This can be done in many ways, but we are critical. When a Chinese student goes to work in a Chinese restaurant in Amsterdam, we do not necessarily consider that an example of successful integration. It is best if participants next the Dutch lessons are active in a Dutch environment. This can be done through voluntary work, by joining a Dutch club or by doing paid work in a Dutch environment. As long as Dutch is also spoken outside the lessons. It concerns the combination of language lessons and activities outside of the lessons in which Dutch is spoken. Just like Ard, Freek spends a lot of time on the smooth running of the municipal language courses. Not only benefit recipients who usually know the courses through their client manager at the municipality, but also people without benefits who find the courses themselves, fall under his responsibility.
I find it a pleasant cooperation partner
The main task of Freek is to check the contracts with providers, including that with TopTaal. 'The contracts with suppliers describe which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) must be met. There are twenty-five KPIs, such as: do the lessons start on time? Are the teachers qualified? And do the students make portfolios? Those are the things I've been looking at in this position for ten years. " When Freek started as a language checker, he was in charge of forty language providers. Now there are five. "We have sifted considerably in recent years."
Player of size
In recent years, Freek has seen TopTaal grow from a small club to a major player. 'It is very nice to see how TopTaal has really become a large, professional organization. And I have to say that I think it is a pleasant cooperation partner. They always do what they say. You would expect that as a commercial organization they mainly want to make a profit. There is nothing wrong with that in itself. But I notice that they really want to do well. TopTaal looks for solutions itself when difficulties arise. I find it really difficult to indicate what they could do better. '
What surprises Freek the most is the fact that a profit-driven company so clearly emphasizes the interests of trainees in its approach 'Making a profit and being correct can therefore go hand in hand', Freek concludes. 'It's nice to see that students are so happy to come to TopTaal. They really ask for it. I think TopTaal is really a very good language provider. '