TABLE OF CONTENTS
Social Integration Course
Also known as Inburgering in Dutch, the Social Integration Course equips participants with essential knowledge about living in Belgium. As a result, they can integrate more easily into the society and a better picture of what is happening in Belgium.
Some web pages are difficult to find online for a newbie who does not understand the native foreign language yet. At least after the Social Integration Course, they know where to google the information online since many links are either in Dutch or French.
Check out the introductory article on Civic Integration Programme and Programme Counsellor on how to register for the Social Integration Course and Dutch as the Second Language (NT2) in Belgium.
Inburgering Course Outline
The Inburgering Social Integration Course is free and takes 60 hours. It is conducted using the native language of the participant since there will be intense interaction with others in the class.
Some of the subjects of interests are as below. While you go through the list of 15 topics, kindly take part in the poll too. Select not more than 10 topics that you would like to know more about the integration course. The result will be shown after you have voted.
The list above is non-exhaustive. It gives you an idea of what this Inburgering Social Integration Program is all about. The instructor cannot cover every topic due to time constraint. The course outline is different in every city too.
The instructor customises the Social Integration Programme according to the need and request of the group that he has. The duration of the integration programme can range from 3 weeks to 3 months according to the learning ability. The instructor can increase or slow down the learning pace accordingly.
Number of Participants
Antwerp, having the largest population in Flanders, it is not surprising that the number of participants in a social integration class can go up to more than 20 people. Due to a large number of interested or obligated people, their social orientation course can be grouped according to their education level. Consequently, such a grouping will determine a different time length for the social orientation course after their assessment.
In smaller cities where there are not many new migrants, it may not be possible to have such segregation based on cognition. That is to say that everyone would be taking the same course regardless of the educational background. One friend living in another Flemish city had only 7 participants in her Social Orientation Class.
I had four weeks of Inburgering Programme, four times a week. Each session lasts for three hours per day. I registered the Social Integration Course in October 2016. However, I could only start my class end of January 2017. Nearly four months of waiting. All the Social Orientation Courses over the next few weeks were full.
During certain periods, expect to be put on a waiting list. Or perhaps, a confirmation date which is many months ahead particularly in bigger cities where there are a lot more new migrants compared to smaller cities.
My Integration Course and Instructor
My Inburgering Social Integration Course was in Sint-Katelijnevest 54. The instructor, Raj, is a Nepalese and a naturalised Belgian. Since he has lived in Belgium for over a decade, he is knowledgeable about the social and political changes over the years. As such, he provides practical information for expats since he was once like us, a migrant in Belgium.
Being an expat himself who conducts over hundreds of Inburgering Courses, he understands the needs of most newcomers. The type of questions that most people want to know when they first relocate to Belgium. At the end of the day, he would email us all the useful links as a recap of the lesson covered. Even when one has forgotten everything months and years later, the web links will come handy in searching for the information.
I was lucky to be in an Inburgering class of 25 people from 20 nationalities. It was one of the classes that had the most diverse cultures. We had fun in the discussion and also some fierce debates arising from different backgrounds and cultural differences. That was the aim of a fruitful discussion. Be open-minded. The first step in learning to live with the differences of another 180 nationalities in Belgium.
Raj also invited speakers from the Belgian Federal Police, his ex-student who works in an MNC company to give tips on writing a job CV and answering common questions during a job interview. We also had a discussion with the Belgian students from the University about their life here. It was a golden opportunity to ask them questions about living in Belgium as a native.
End of Inburgering Course
Finally, at the end of the Social Integration Course, each of us will undergo an interview with Raj and our Programme Counsellor. It is not a test and has no grade. The interview session requires the student to give his plan on finding a job relating to the type of job that he wants to do in the future. The student has to describe how is he going to carry out his task too. During this time, the students can ask any questions which they did not have a chance to do so in class.
On the last day of receiving the Certificate of Integration, we had a treasure hunt on the street. That was the most fun of all. The idea was to grab people on the street that fit into a list of profile given by Raj. Subsequently, get them to answer a question from the questionnaire given to every team. Eventually, one alphabet from each answer will form the name of a street which would be the final destination of the treasure hunt.
Usually, everyone will receive a certificate of integration on the last day of the course, unless he did not meet the attendance requirement or was not cooperative in class. On that day, we have a potluck too. Everyone will bring some food from his country of origin preferably. As you can see from the profile picture, there was some leftover food. Not forgetting the photo-taking session and to remember each and every classmate for life.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Raj for his dedication and effort to make the Social Orientation Course as entertaining and practical as possible. Hence, I looked forward to going to his lessons every morning.
Integration Quiz – How Well Do You Know Belgium and Flanders?
How well do you know Belgium and Flanders? I came across an interesting quiz with 16 questions (too bad… the quiz has been removed by the organizer →) from Flanders News. It will take less than 2 minutes of your time. I scored 13/16 on my first attempt. Will you score better than me?
Lastly, please let us know your score through the poll below by pressing the appropriate points. No registration required and strictly anonymous. The result will be shown after your vote. Have fun!