Dutch students less interested in German studies; Spanish gaining popularity
German is declining in popularity in secondary schools across the Netherlands, according to De Volkskrant. In total, about 56,000 students will take the German exam this month, by far the lowest number in 10 years. That is also about 20 percent fewer than in 2018, when the subject peaked in popularity. The VMBO secondary school level saw the greatest decline in final exam candidates.
The waning interest in secondary school level German also continues into university education. The number of bachelor’s students studying the German language and culture has been declining steadily over many years, the newspaper reported based on figures from the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) association.
Some 174 bachelor students were studying German at the start of the academic year, but this is not necessarily an accurate representation, according to the UNL. Since 2013 the University of Groningen brought several languages under one study title, obscuring any perspective on those exclusively studying German. Other universities have also seen a decrease in German students since 2017. Nevertheless, there are many German teacher vacancies, in secondary education in particular.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday. The German ambassador to the Netherlands was critical of the waning interest in Germany, the Volkskrant reported.
However, the lessening engagement in the German language is not as extreme when put in the context of the total number of candidates. Roughly 30 percent of registered final exam candidates will take the German exam in 2022, compared to 33 percent in 2018.
One reason for the decline in popularity is the increasing interest in Spanish, especially at the secondary school level. Around 4,500 students will take their final Spanish exam this year. French has also maintained its degree of popularity throughout the years.