Student - October 18, 2007

Learning Dutch with Jip and Janneke

At ISOW you can learn lots of different languages. At present there are weekly lessons in French, Dutch, Spanish, English conversation and Chinese. Students teach their native language on a voluntary basis, so what’s on offer changes every period.
This week Resource sat in on one of the Dutch lessons.

At the Dutch course
Jip en Janneke is one of the most popular children’s books in the Netherlands, and is used as the course book for the intermediate Dutch lessons. Charlotte Floors starts the lesson by asking the students to read a passage in the book, a relatively straightforward task for those present. Next it’s time for some grammar, on regular, strong and irregular verbs. After Charlotte has given a lengthy explanation, Nelli Prota exclaims ‘I never got why a simple question like ‘what are you doing?’ was so complicated! Wat ben je aan het doen? Now I get it.’

Nelli is an Italian PhD student at PRI and has a Dutch boyfriend. She decided to do the course because she’s planning on staying on here for a while after she’s finished her PhD. ‘And last weekend my boyfriend spoke Dutch for a whole day, it was so annoying that I’m extra motivated to do this class. And I think Dutch is a beautiful language - it sounds really sensual when some men speak.’ Nelli has been trying to learn Dutch for some time, but found it difficult without a course. ‘I need rules’, she says. ‘My boyfriend gave me a book, but it is too complicated and boring.’

There are eight people in the class and most are planning on living in the Netherlands for longer period of time. The beginners’ course is bigger; the demand was so high that they had to form two groups. The advanced course is confined to people planning on a future in this country.

Nika Galic comes from Croatia and is doing a PhD in aquatic ecotoxicology here. She did an introductory course in Dutch in Croatia and wants to learn Dutch mainly for ‘social purposes’. Jan Kubiak is from Poland and is living in Wageningen with his fiancée who is doing a PhD here. Jan wants to be able to communicate at work. ‘Everyone is very nice there and speaks English. I have a six-month contract and want to continue working there afterwards.’

When the lesson finishes it’s the beginners’ turn and indeed the class is bigger. On the other side of the closed door you can hear the warming-up: ‘een, twee, drie, vier…

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