You might say there is no such thing as a free lunch, but I say there are several free ways to learn Dutch for purpose of inburgering exams. Few of them are described here.
- Duolingo: This is a great resource for absolute beginners. There is a web version and an app for Android/IOS. Duolingo doesn’t teach you in a traditional way – meaning, you don’t start with alphabet and the sounds, but with short sentences. Even if you do not know the alphabet yet, this is still a nice way to begin. Setup a daily goal and spend 10 to 15 min every day.
- Your local library: In many cities across the Netherlands, your local library may have some classes usually organized by volunteers to encourage expats to start learning. This is also a great way to meet new people. Just walk-in to your library and ask them.
- Check with your gemeente (town hall): Usually local town/city administrations have some budget to arrange classes through language institutes in your area. Just call your gemeente and find out if there are any classes and the process to enroll for them. These classes are usually arranged through good institutes, so the quality will be good – that also means there may be a waiting list before you are accepted.
- Bart de Pau YouTube videos: Bart de Pau is a popular Dutch tutor. You can find his YouTube channel here. A special mention for his alphabet and pronunciation videos – I love them.
- Dutch Newspapers: Now, this way might not seem interesting but let’s try and make it a bit more fun – start with just reading the advertisements and nothing else. If not anything, you atleast get to know if there is a sale going on somewhere in your neighborhood 😊. If you are an absolute beginner, this might not be the best way. But after a few weeks of Duolingo and Bart de Pau videos, you should be able to understand a few words here and there. The vocabulary used in newspapers is usually repetitive – meaning, if you start reading regularly enough, you will pick up many words automatically. There are free newspapers at train stations. You may also read news on Dutch websites if you promise not to use the ‘translate’ feature of Google Chrome 😊
- News on NPO: The “NOS Journaal” news on NPO is supposed to be the best Dutch spoken. There are usually free of local dialects, use simple words for easy understanding, have a clear pronunciation. This is a great way to pick up your listening skills. Even if you don’t understand everything that is being spoken, just listening to it continuously helps you register the sounds of the language (like a child imitating an adult even when the child does not understand what it means). Imitation is one of the best forms to learn a language. A tip: If you watch the news broadcast of the previous day in the NPO app on your smart device, you have an option to turn on subtitles (in Dutch, but still……). Then you can relate the pronunciation of the word to the spelling of the word.
- Books: There are several books like ‘Kijk op Nederland’, ‘Welkom in Nederland’, ‘Nederlands in gang’ for preparation of Writing and KNM exams. If you have a membership at your local library, you should be able to borrow them for free!
- Letters you receive at home: From the day you arrived in the Netherlands, you would have received letters in Dutch related to everything. In the beginning, you would obviously translate every single word. But slowly, you will start picking up words (one of the first words I learnt was ‘betalen’ = “to pay” because almost every other letter asked me to pay something 😊). Try and figure out the meaning of the sentence using this word and from the context – this will help you learn new words faster!
- And some promotion for my other blog 😉 as these are also free – check out my tips for inburgering exams
Then, there are several websites specifically aimed at practice for the inburgering exams. I have listed few of them here:
Official practice exams from DUO:
For all exams:
Happy learning! Hope you find them useful!
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