Free learning resources for Dutch

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.
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  • 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 😊
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  • 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!

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:

For KNM/KNS:

For Reading:

For Speaking:

For Writing:

Happy learning! Hope you find them useful!

Leave a comment if you have a question. Hit the Like button if you liked the article!

Inburgering : How to prepare

Everyone would like to know how should I prepare for inburgering exams !

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Speaking from my experience. I had attempted all 5 exams with in the same week. A few tips and learning according to me.

General
Learn a few basic words everyday and then a few basic sentences that are used in everyday life. The letters from banks, appointment letters, and other brief that you receive are usually in dutch, try not to translate them. Give it a try to read. You may not be able to understand the meaning of each and every work but slowly you will start understanding the sentences by relating a few words. Believe me, understanding the sentence instead of each and every word is more than enough.

Reading
The best way to prepare for readings is to start reading newspaper. The letters you receive at home. Usual contracts. Pay attention to all of these and try to understand with basic words. Do not forget to try DUO practice tests.
For me, Reading was the most easiest to do. It is just like a paragraph reading in English which we used to do in schools. Be smart, during the exam, do not focus on reading the paragraph but focus on question and then finding the answer in the paragraph.

Speaking
You will be usually asked two parts in the same question. For example :
Question : Wat voor fruit eet u graag? Vertel ook hoe vaak u fruit eet?
Translation : What kind of fruit do you like to eat? Also tell how often you eat fruit.

Always think like a child. Noone is looking for the real answer. Do not start thinking “which fruit do I really like?” and do not relate the answer to your real life. Answer should be as simple as possible. Also the answer must be derived from question itself which means most of the words to be used in your answer are from your questions.

Answer : Ik eet graag banaan en ik eet elkedag.
Translation : I like to eat banana and I eat everyday.

keep in mind, there are extra marks if you join the two sentences with and, or, if, because, however etc. Try more :

Question : Hoe vaak gebruikt u uw telefoon? Vertel ook waarvoor u uw telefoon gebruikt?
Translation : How often do you use your telephone? Also tell what for you use your telephone?

Answer : Ik gebruik mijn telefoon elkedag en ik gebruik het voor werk.
Translation : I use my telephone everyday and I use it for work.
(do not start thinking how many times you are really using your telephone in a day. Also do not think whether you use it for calls, gaming, reading etc)

Apart from this, go through the videos of Ad Appel on Youtube for more scenarios like this.

Listening
As per my experience, the DUO practice questions are enough for practicing listening.

Writing
The pattern of writing has been changed a little bit starting 2019. Also keep in mind, the key to writing your answer is the question itself. You can write the complete letter/email from question itself by using a few words. The salutation/concluding section such as dear …. or Yours sincerely etc, has special marks so do not forget to write it better. I would say mug up the start/end sections.
Filling the form is quite simple and fill in the blanks too. Keep in mind, think as simple as you can. Do not complicate your answer. And there are special marks for using – and, because, if, or, however etc. There are many free examples on Google.

KNM (Knowledge of dutch society)
Honestly I really mugged up the book “Netherlands in gang” but it did not help much. Atleast 50% of questions will be on the basis of your common sense and the rest 50% are related to festivals, important dates, etc from Netherlands in gang book.

ONA (Orientation Exam)
Fortunately I was having the appointment for ONA discussion towards the end of the day at 05:30 PM. It was almost time to leave for the day so everyone was so eager to wrap up the discussion as fast as they can. Lucky me !!
The discussion can go upto 40 min but for me it was for 15-20 min. Examiners were very helpful and if you are not understanding any questions, examiner will do their best to ask the question in a different way – as simple as possible. And they will take you through the portfolio by keeping a finger on the question. So you already know which question is being asked.

Last but not the Least
Practice, practice and practice !
Check the DUO practice question here for sure. And good luck for your exams !





Inburgering : A2 Exam Structure

Het Inburgeren !! Looking out for what does the inburgeren exam comprises of ? Here are the details and my experience of the exams.

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Which exams you need to take up as a part of level A2?
Following exams comprises of inburgering exams :
1. Reading
2. Writing
3. Listening
4. Speaking
5. Knowledge of dutch society (KNM)
6. Orientation on dutch labour market (ONA)

Reading
You will read text and answer questions. The will be 25 questions and the duration of exam is 65 min. Attempting 16-18 questions right gives you a chance to pass the exam.

Writing
You do the exam with a pen and paper. 4 assignments will be provided. This involves writing a short letter/email, filling out a form, fill in the blanks(4-6 questions), describe a picture etc. The exam is for 40 min. 75% right questions are good to pass the exam.

Listening
There will be short audio files and answer the questions on them with around 25 questions. The duration of exam is 45 min. If you have 16-20 questions correct, you have pretty good to clear the exam. if more than 20 questions are right, you definitely pass the exam.

Speaking
The duration of the exam is 35 min. There are two parts of the exam :
– 12 questions where you need to hear the recording for questions and record your answer by speaking. Each question 12 points. Total of 144 points. You will need 82 to 84 points to clear this part.
– Another 12 questions where you need not have to speak. These are the multiple choice questions. if you are having 9 questions right, you can clear this part as well.
Keep in mind, for clearing this exam, you will need to pass both the parts of the exam.

Since there are many people in the room taking the exam, there will be a lot of noise, be loud enough to speak and record. You can record your answer as many times as you want but also keep in mind the duration of the exam.

Knowledge of dutch society – KNM
Short films will be there in the exam such as shopping or going to the doctor. After each film, you need to answer some questions. The exam lasts 45 min. There can be 39-43 questions in the exam. If you make 26 questions right, you stand out a chance to clear the exam.
Believe me, 45 min is not at all enough for this exam. It is better to go through the revision of answers at the end of the exam if time permits.

Orientation on dutch labour market – ONA
ONA is about working and looking for work. You need to pre-fill a portfolio form which is similar to a resume and send it to DUO for the review. If the review is a success, the appointment will be provided otherwise it will be sent back to you for more questions or corrections.
In the appointment, you will have to speak and discuss your portfolio with 2 examiners. One is asking questions and discussing with you while the other one just examining the answers by sitting aside. The appointment will be recorded. It is more of the speaking exam. Grammar does not matter for this exam. You will be assessed on the ability to make simple sentences. The examiner will help you enough(or more than enough sometimes) to clear the exam. Do not be afraid of this exam.
You can also get exemption for this exam. I will publish a separate blog on how to get this exemption.

What you need to bring for the exams?
Bring a valid ID proof. You can also bring the letter for the exam which you received from DUO but this is optional. Pen, Paper, headphone etc will be provided to you at the exam spot.

Inburgering : Intro

It is difficult word ! What does Inburgering means and how does it help me? Looking forward for the answers?

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Dutch government promotes the civic integration for the people who wants to live for a longer duration or permanently within Netherlands.You must learn the dutch language and take up the Inburgering level A2 exams, if you want to apply for Permanent Residency or a Dutch nationality. If you pass this exam, then you are officially integrated.

Why is civic integration required?
You must be able to :
1. Find a work for yourself
2. know how to make a hospital appointment (Dutch Healthcare system)
3. know what type of schools are in Netherlands (Dutch Education)
For all these, the basic dutch is required to communicate with each other.

Mandatory Integration
If the integration is mandatory for you, DUO(Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs/Ministry of education, culture and Science) will send a letter to you telling the date on which you have to start the integration. From this date, you have 3 years to integrate.

Voluntary Integration
However you can also integrate on voluntary basis which means you yourself want to integrate. One reason to do this is the Permanent Residency or Dutch Citizenship.

How to learn?
You can learn for the exam all by yourself or you can also do a course at a school. DUO does not have the text books to refer or provide. However DUO only provides the practice exams. Read the content of the exam here.