In these weird coronavirus-times we are going through, we all have to self-isolate in order to help ourselves and our community. Staying at home might be a good opportunity to brush up your Dutch. Nowadays, there is an increased demand for Dutch lessons during the isolation period as the online classes help you to reach your goals and maintain a team spirit despite the physical separation.
Learning Dutch online with a teacher
We talked to the owner and director of Taalthuis, Margreet van ‘t Haaff, and asked her to tell us more about online learning.
Taalthuis has seven language schools all over the Netherlands and one of them is situated at the Lorentzplein in Haarlem. They adapted their lessons to offer them online immediately after the first measures to combat coronavirus were announced. They wanted to give all of their 800 students the opportunity to continue improving their Dutch, and to the people who haven’t had the time to learn Dutch before, to finally do it.
“Online learning replaces more than I could have imagined, but you need to limit the group size,” says Margreet van ‘t Haaff. “I am overwhelmed by how well students are coping and impressed by the creativity of the teachers in adapting to this new medium,” she continues. “Managing a group of around ten students for a 2.5-hour online lesson has been a challenge, but using breakout rooms on Zoom and Skype to do small group work, while the teacher records the conversations to provide feedback, has helped Taalthuis maximise learning. Strict rules about punctuality and when to turn on and off microphones can also help things run smoothly,” she says.
For students who have already started Dutch lessons, Van ‘t Haaff advises sticking to the same schedule to keep up the momentum, even though you’re no longer meeting in person. Spread the word that you are learning Dutch, recommends Van ‘t Haaff. And if you’re out shopping or taking a walk, leave your shyness at home and “speak Dutch with everybody you encounter – keeping the distance of 1.5 m, of course.” To improve your listening skills, she recommends watching children’s programmes such as Klokhuis or Jeugdjournaal.
Taalthuis, having built up the expertise, will keep offering Skype lessons as add-ons post-corona.
Are you also interested in getting more information about online Dutch language lessons by Taalthuis? Click on the banner below and find more information about the lessons and the team.
ExpatsHaarlem readers get a 5% expatsHaarlem readers’ discount for a course of Taalthuis , just make sure to put the code XPTSHRLM15 in the “remarks” field.
Tips that make learning Dutch at home easier
Make sure you follow these tips to make the most of your home lessons:
- Create a study area
Although you may be competing with others in your household, try to mark out a study space. Make it comfortable and set boundaries with others. For example, if your study space is now the dining table, try to make an agreement that it is yours alone for a set time period.
- Keep your study area tidy
It’s hard to be disciplined to learn or work at home, and even harder if the place is a mess. If you have piles of dishes or laundry around you it can be difficult to focus. Take 10 minutes to tidy up the room before you start your online lesson or homework.
- Keep socialising
Although you may miss the physical lessons and socialising in person, reaching out and connecting with the teacher and other students can maintain a sense of community. Use the online systems to maintain social contact. Also posting on discussion boards and reading other student’s posts can help. Set up informal discussions via Skype or FaceTime if you can.
- Manage your time
Recognise that different tasks require different levels of concentration. Watching a video or a Dutch TV series can be easier than reading a complex text and taking notes. Divide your work into manageable time slots and take proper breaks.
- Plan your day
Set a routine to use time efficiently. Staying all day at home doesn’t mean that you are lost in time and space. You can set a specific time for working or studying, reading a book, playing with your children, watching your favourite TV show, cleaning the house and going for a relaxing walk for exercise and to get some fresh air. And when the time comes for your online lesson, make sure you devote your full attention to it and enjoy it as much as possible!
And don’t forget: This is a time that will eventually go away and we will all return to our normal lives. Let’s keep our spirits up by making the most of the time we have at home.
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