07 April, 2010

Nieuwe Buren - the Language Course

I thought it would be useful to give a bit of an overview of the course books I'm using in the Inburgering Curses. That way, you will at least know what course books will be studied and what level they are at. Each week we have two separate course book, Nieuwe Buren and Welkom in Nederland. Today I'll talk a bit about my Nieuwe Buren (NB).

Now, first of all, I must note that the NB book that I'm using is aimed at A2 level learning, so is book 1.2. I cannot comment on any of the other books and the different levels, but I'm guessing that the same course with different levels are used from beginners through to NT2 and possibly beyond.

Depending on when you join the class it is all very random as to where you are in the course work. I was very lucky in that I wasn't alone starting my classes, so my teacher started the book from the beginning. This means that some of the older class members are now repeating sections of the course, which does not seem to be particularly beneficial for them. It also means that latecomers will start the course half way through the book. I don't believe that the language is any more advanced the further you go through the book, only the vocabulary is extended. Meaning, you can start at chapter 9, complete the book and start again without it being too challenging or simple. If I were in charge (this is one of my great fantasies), I would set the courses up more like a traditional school with separate intakes so the students are all at one level, but alas I'm just a student and have no influence on such things.

We are just completing the first chapter of the of the book, called Naar de Bank. The chapter covers topics like making a telephone appointment to have a household item repaired, reading the Gouden Gids (yellow pages), reacting to an invitation, offering help to a friend or colleague, making an appointment with the bank, using the ATM, writing a greeting card, and filling in an official form.

Each of the above sub topics is covered in one lesson, but sometimes there are more than one topics covered. As a rule, the teacher will dictate the key words from the topic and we will check our spelling, then we will take turns reading out loud and answering questions as a group. There is also some writing, where we will have to fill a correct word in a sentence. For example, Ik ______ je veel plezier, becomes Ik wens je veel plezier. We also have to choose a situation where a particular sentence may be used. For example: Van harte gefeliciteerd can be used to wish someone happy birthday, but not if they are sick, or as a condolence. One type situation that I found most strange was that it is appropriate to use Tot ziens as a form of condolence (when writing a card or offering your condolences in person). I discussed this with Maarten who was horrified and strongly disagrees that one should ever use that term in such a situation. Strange indeed.

We don't always stick 100 percent to the course book either. For example, last week we were learning how to write greeting cards, and were given four examples to complete - a get well soon card, a happy new year card, a condolence card, and a new baby card. We had to use appropriate language and tone as well as create a sentence with the correct grammar. Writing is by far my biggest challenge. Not the spelling, I have a good grasp on the spelling rules there, but the verbs are a bit difficult, and my vocabulary level is still very low (in comparison to others in the class). My verb creation is getting much better very quickly I must say, I just have to work on the vocabulary. What I'm also finding is that my English grammar is becoming worse. For such a stickler to the rules, I found myself making not one but TWO there/their/they're mistakes in the last week! It's one of my pet hates, and I didn't notice it until after I'd hit submit.

As I go further through the course book I'll post regular updates. So far the course has been great for my language level, although the tone of it does tend to lean towards the "You must have lived in a cave before coming here" end of the spectrum. it seems to assume that common sense is non-existent in the students following the course. Having said that, it's no where near as preachy as the Welkom in Nederland book, which I'll get to in coming days.

What course are you following? Are you finding it beneficial? Would love to hear your thoughts on the coursework we have to follow to become integrated into Dutch society.


lil_suze said...

Dont wanna be a pain in the ass, but it's "Ik wens je veel plezier". Without the 't' behind wens ;-)

But wow, the whole 'tot ziens' thing is soooo weird indeed! Id never ever say such a thing, but maybe it's though of as in a religious point of view... Like in see you in heaven? :-P

Unknown said...

Crap crap crap! Changed it now, thanks.

About the tot ziens thing, the whole see you on the other side thing is what my teacher was getting at I think... I could only imagine the look of horror if I actually used it on someone though!

Connie Koorevaar said...

Hi Nerissa, GREAT post!

I read through Welkom in Nederland and made copies of the last two chapters for future studying.

Looked at Nieuwe Buren and thought that wasn't too necessary for me, have done most of that over the last almost 14 years. :)

Read through Bagage and Kom Verder! and will study the chapters that I think I still need some help with, such as children and education.

One thing I have to say is that I resent the fact that they suggest that there way of doing it is okay and should be considered the norm. I don't need to know about sex etc and find it has no place in my integration course. Again, they'd be better to seperate out the levels and have Western people have to learn the language to live here. If you want a passport then you have to prove in 3 years you can pass the MO tests and if you're from a non western country, okay, let them have these courses for integration and again allow them the chance within 3 years to also get either a passport or onbepaalde greencard.

Of them all though I love NEDERLAND in ZICHT! Wow is that hard reading :) It's definitely written for a higher level, so I'm going to be reading that a couple thousand times before the test if I can :) I really need to concentrate hard while reading it.

I'm still waiting to hear when my test will be. Still trying to get studying in when I can. And still very very very nervous that I might not pass!

All the best!

Mark Kremer said...

"Tot ziens" as a condolence? I've not heard that before either...

Unknown said...

Connie, I honestly think you will pass that test with no worries at all. One of the guys in my course just passed the assessment portion and I can barely understand a word he says. Now, I understand that the exemption test is at a much higher level, but so is your Dutch!! Keep me posted on the progress, and thanks for the info on the books. Perhaps when you've passed and this is behind you I could borrow them for a looksee?

Gina said...

Hi Nerissa,
I'm curious as to where you are doing this course? I did an intake and was placed in the appropriate level of my learning ability, intelligence and knowledge of Dutch.
I actually begged the gemeente to let me do the course as I was desperate to improve my Dutch but being an EU citizen it wasn't clear at the time if I were allowed!
I have learnt a lot but not to the level I expected... or maybe I am at the level expected (which isn't too high then!) I enjoyed doing the course and met many different nationalities, the debates we had were fun to do!
Like you the grammar is the most difficult, words, objects no problem... stringing them together is a whole different kettle of fish! As for losing your own grammar in your own language I know it well! I'm sure I made a few mistake in this but I can speak another 2 languages which isn't bad for a Brit who usually have enough problem speaking their own language properly!
I've passed and finished my course (just portfolio to do which haunts me!) so if you want my books just ask... I'm sure I can bring them one friday eve. Anyhow good luck on your language expedition! :-)

Unknown said...

Hi Gina,

I'm doing my course via the Ttif Company in the Passage (upstairs from the Fair Play and the nail salon). Did you pass the A2 level? With the Toets Gesproken Nederlands and the practijk examen (or however I should spell them)?

I'm finding that I understand mostly everything that goes on in the course, although I did think that vuilnis was noise, not rubbish, so wrote a letter to my neighbour asking him to turn down his rubbish...

I think with regards to the portfolio, if you can just say one day "Right! I'm going to do it" you'll be able to knock it over really quickly. I'm halfway through it and the hardest thing I've had to do so far is go to the uitzenbureau. I am terrified of going to the Gemeente and to the police, but one of my classmates did it yesterday and it wasn't so bad. For me it's the embarrassment of it all that I just need to get past...

I would love to borrow your books if you don't need them for a while, by the way!

wilber said...

Hi Nerissa,

Thanks for the good write up. It is interesting to hear how other schools do it.

Since you asked, I'll give you a brief summary of my classes are ROC Flevoland in Muziekwijk.

I am in, what I believe is the real 'beginners' class, called IJsbreker 1.
I attend 4 days a week, 12:30 - 3:30. (Well, I am supposed to.) This is broken into 1 1/2 hours of classroom, 15 minute pause and 1 1/4 hours in the computer lab. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. (I believe that I mentioned before that I was recently laid off, so this works for now.)

As with you, incoming students are just cycled into the class they feel appropriate, no matter where within the course that class happens to be. I, too, find this quite weird.

The workbook we use sounds similar to yours. It has has 9 chapters and we do 1 chapter per week. However, this week and next are scheduled for what I believe they think is 'reinforcement' of the entire book, as we completed the last chapter before Easter. Then, they will go back to chapter 1 and start over. (I came in at hoofdstuk 4.)

At this point, there is no set differentiation between language and 'society'. But, if you read between the lines, it is just combined.

We also were given a 'Woordenschrijft' book, which follows the chapters in the Werkboek, but with no instructions as to what is was for.
I, however, just started it on my own and, finally, this week the instructor started seeing if we were using it and checked each student and 'assigned' something for the next time we meet.

As for the 'computer lab' part, I go less and less, as time goes on. However, we were also given a CD that is the same as what in in the lab to use at home. (With a USB stick, you can transfer results back and forth.) That is what I do. However, I get the feeling that they would rather I go to their lab. But for the life of me, I cannot figure out the difference. There is no interaction with people in the lab, unless of course you have a problem, which I never do.
Besides, I printed my current results, today and gave them to the instructor and he seemed impressed. (especially as they were printed in color, which you cannot to in their lab)

Anyway, for me it is going fairly well. We are/were at the point where it was getting more difficult. Fortunately, it appears that each chapter builds on the next. So, although I sometimes feel that I am not really sure of some meanings or usage in a chapter, many are repeated in upcoming chapters for reinforcement.

On the 'tot ziens' question; I discussed this with mijn vrouw and she believes it was meant to be delivered in a eulogy, which I could agree. Well, assuming the speaker believes in an afterlife.

And, I totally can empathize with your having trouble formulating sentences!

On a personal note, I had a meeting, yesterday, with my ex-boss. He would like to contract me back, for a few weeks per quarter, to do what they fired me from. Now, I just have figure out how that will affect these classes, as my work would take me out of the country for basically an entire week.
Oh well!


Gina said...

Hi Nerissa,
Yes I also did it at Tiff and passed, I found the exams very easy and was expecting them to be more difficult. I say that but I guess I understand Dutch very well... my problem is speaking, I'm basically too shy or hate the constant corrections, I learn better parrot fashion by mimicking words and accent... grammar comes with time! I was told that even most Dutch use bad grammar and it comes with practice! I hated doing the grammar... still do! :-P
As for the portfolio... I did 8 forms easy in one day, including the Gemeente, politie and verzekering... funny to do as when you tell them why you are there they know exactly what you need and are very helpful... if you need someone to go with you just ask (I live very close to the Stad) I still have a couple to do and then I am finished! The books I have are probably the same as yours... just let me know which ones you have! Add me on FB x

Sonya said...

It sounds like you are doing great so far! I'm not taking the class myself but I imagine it can be a scarey/nerveracking experience until you start to learn everything. Good luck with it!

Silvia said...

Why isn't the blog in dutch???? ;-) Keep up the good work. XXX Silvia

Silvia said...

Hahahahahahaha "Maarten who was horrified and strongly disagrees that one should ever use that term in such a situation". I agree with him.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nerissa,

good luck and i am sure you can make it. I haven't done it myself. Although i have passed and completed level 1 in VU amsterdam which my teacher said is equivalent levelA2.In fact within 3 months what i learned seems to be more sufficient than the Welkom book (not that i have seen it). We studied grammar,spelling,speaking and listening intensive course and i do admit it was tough but worth it. However the gementee sent me a letter for an intake to speak to a 3rd party school near the area i live. Told her i am currently busy with my business as well as i have passed my exam at the VU but she just said NO and that i have to take a test intake to see where they can place me. The only condition is that if i go up to level 2 at my own expenses at the VU they would exempt me.I havent taken the test yet and i saw from the booklet she showed me it was more like a book for illiterate; that shows arrows and signboards..(sigh)After the test then they will place me accordingly to where i can be placed-higher level schools or somewhere else. Funny that they ask me to do this test, cos is it not clear to them that i have attended school at the Vrije Universiteit for NT2 taal.They could advise the gementee to direct me to VU to further my studies to level 2 if they insist it instead of me having to go through the bureaucracy.
(p.s- the level 1 from VU was paid by me and not the gementee.The IND have all my report that i pass the level 1 from VU and i did show the papers to the 3rd party school)

Well that being said, i watch movies with dutch subtitles,watch dutch news,have more dutch friends than expat friends here.I can read,write and my grammar is quite good.Just that i am self-conscious when i have to speak.I do not like it when i speak, my grammar is not right. Speaking is a bit slow for me.Funny when i have conversation with a dutch, they speak dutch and i replied in english and the conversation continues.I was shocked myself. Thing is, i grew up with 2 languages at home and when i study dutch language (my 3rd one) i understand the grammar and it is not that difficult.And i have not spoken my own mother tongue language for a very long time and english is a first language for me.It is hard to switch to a third language when i do not even speak my second language anymore. Or maybe it's just me..It is too easy to speak english in Amsterdam :) Everybody does :)

Anyway, good luck!


Anonymous said...

Always good to know about more books to help the integration cause! These are two I haven't heard of before - I'll have to check them out!

So far, I've used Help 1: Kunt U Mij Helpen, half of Beter Nederlands (they were halfway through when I started the class), De Finale, and now we're almost finished Code 3. I still have another 6 months before I finish my year-long course, so I'm curious to see what else they pack in.

They're/there/their has also always been a pet peeve of mine (and "me and him"/"her and I" etc). Funny that your mention the worsening of your English since you started studying Dutch. I recently wrote a post about this called Taalzheimer's http://clogsandtulips.blogspot.com/2010/02/taalzheimers_16.html

Hope you continue to enjoy and get a lot out of your classes!

Valentijn said...

I'm taking intensive courses at James Boswell Institute, which is part of Utrecht Universiteit. They have their own building on a campus in the Rijnswerd neighborhood, and specialize in getting people ready for university classes at UU. In addition to teaching Dutch there, they also teach toward science requirements and such, and have basic classes for quite a few languages.

Their classes are geared toward people that have completed college degrees or a high school education qualifying them to go to uni. Normal classes meet 105 minutes per day, two days a week. A level, B1 level, and B2 level each take 4 months at that rate, meaning fluency (B2 or passing statsexamen 2nd level) can be reached in a year. Intensive courses meet 4 days per week and can result in fluency in 6 months.

I took the A level intensive course, which takes us from level 0 to level A2. We used the book "De Opmaat" which one of our two instructors co-authored. Both instructors were excellent at teaching Dutch, though not at all nurturing really. We had 10 students in that class, and half failed the JBI test to progress to B1. There's a 5 week extra class available for them to get up to speed for B1, so they don't have to take A level again.

At the beginning everyone had a different level of Dutch speaking ability, from 0 to very chatty. But even the ones that were chatting easily from the beginning had very bad grammar and pronunciation - one of them passed and one didn't :-P

I'm in B1 now, and our book is "Nederlands in Actie". It's not nearly as good as De Opmaat, and we use a ton of supplementary material. And it's a very pink book. Ugh! Our teacher now is extremely nurturing and genuinely invested in helping us pass and addressing any problems we have. And, of course, very good at teaching Dutch :-)

We only have language texts, not inburgering texts. Our B1 teacher explained that with our educated backgrounds we have the ability and motivation to learn how to do things on our own.

Again people started with a range of speaking ability - about half of us came from A level classes, but the other half came from Indonesia and Belgium and had learned some Dutch there. And again there are people that are somewhat intimidating in their ability to speak so easily, but have underlying grammar problems.

The classes at JBI all start on schedule - people are never dumped into classes that have already started. Normal classes start every 4 months and intensive classes start every 2 months. We have a regular computer lab for grammar exercises and a language lab for spoken and listening exercises.

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