Sunday, 8 March 2015

Learning a language online

I felt really embarrassed about not knowing any Dutch when I visited Groningen for the Eurocall conference last year.  As a result of the conference I am now embarking on an exciting TILA project with Bart Pardoel whom I met at the 3D special interest group meeting.  As I tested out a new game online last Friday with Bart and his colleagues, I once again felt ashamed that I did not even know how to say thanks!

This was in my mind when all of a sudden I spotted a link on my Facebook page ... a message from Groningen University inviting people to sign up for a basic course of Dutch available via Futurelearn.  I have been wanting to experience a 'MOOC' and I learn so much my personal experience of learning languages which I can apply to my teaching ... (most recently, Italian...) so I just had to join it!  Here is a link to the page on 'why it works'

I then thought of Duolingo and was delighted to discover that there is a Dutch course there too.

I declared my intention to learn some Dutch to the Twitterworld (a way of committing myself I suppose!) .. and Steve Smith suggested I write a blog of my experience.  So here goes...



I find the audio very clear, and the pace suits me well.
A knowledge of German speeds things up.
Some frustration when I come across words on which I cannot 'hook' anything. 
Read the 'tips' and learner comments when you can to understand a bit more about the background.. e.g. goededag (good day) but goedeNavond (good evening) .. add an 'n' before a vowel.  I gave a couple of people 'lingots' for helpful comments. (I'm just so generous!).  e.g. How can you remember the tough word for please: Alsjebleift.  It really helps when you can break it down .. [as it to you pleases.]

So, learners like me need to understand the components, then we have more chance of remembering the word. 


Very well constructed, inviting course I think, with pictures.  Short introduction.
Videos well scripted.. not wasting time.  Possible to read pdf in place of watching video.
Activities divided into three weeks.  Each references 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 etc.  Learner clicks
A video of real people inviting you to participate.
A community .. you follow the teachers.

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