New Dutch course at language centre
The University language centre launched a new Dutch language course last month. The course focuses on listening and reading skills rather than speaking and writing, and is more intensive than the regular courses: two lessons a week of one and a quarter hours. Students are also expected to put in at least four hours a week on their own. After completing the six week course students should be able to grasp eighty percent of a newspaper article on agriculture according to teacher Hermien van Miltenburg. I have been teaching Dutch at the language centre for some time now and have found that trying to teach all aspects of the language at once is too much for most foreigners who come to study or work at the University or DLO. Van Miltenburg continues: They work hard, have little time to study Dutch and they can get a long way with English. But most people do want to have access to the information in Dutch that surrounds them, for example in the University newspaper.
The course provides students with a basic knowledge of agricultural technical terms. Van Miltenburg: I encourage students to find articles that may be of use to them and we go over them together during lessons. We also use the University Study Guide and the University Homepage on the Internet. The English button is very helpful, as students can compare the two languages. Colombian Luisa Ortega, doing an MSc in Crop Science, is enthusiastic about the course. The emphasis is definitely in the right place. Every time I try to speak Dutch people don't understand me and switch to English anyway. John Copp from Canada is doing a postdoc in environmental technology. He found the course tough going but useful. 225225The first two weeks were OK, but after that it went way over my head. Even if I had had more time for home study I doubt that I would have got more out of it. I have never studied a language before, knew no Dutch before I started, and work and live in a mainly English environment. The course was a success in terms of the amount of vocabulary I learned, but my listening and understanding did not improve much. I now understand about twenty five to thirty percent of an article, which is better than nothing. E.R