Dutch Language Blog

How to Use Newspapers to Help You Learn Dutch Posted by on Apr 6, 2010 in Dutch Language

Now that you have all these newspaper resources from my last blog, you might be wondering how to start using this information.  There are many ways to use newspapers to further enhance your learning, but here are a few things I’ve done that helped me along the way:

For Beginners

If you’re a beginner, start out simple.  Try just reading the captions under the pictures.  Find short articles you find interesting and try to find words you understand.  Many words in Dutch are similar to English and German, so you might be amazed at how many words you recognize.  Avoid the longer articles, they tend to lead to nothing but frustration and a newspaper flying across the room.  Make a list of 10 to 20 new words from an article that you want to learn, and study that list.  I find flashcards to be very useful.  Try to find words that are used multiple times, because chances are those are more useful than words you see only once per newspaper.  Study those words!  Use an article and try to outline the basic parts of grammar.  Try finding the subject, object and verb in a sentence.  Try to figure out what tense the verbs are conjugated in.  Take an article and read it out loud to practice pronunciation.

Try to answer very simple questions about the article.  Do you have a general idea of what the article is about?  Who are the main groups or people being talked about?  What happened?  Can you get a broad idea of what happened?

At the beginner level, the idea is actually not to read an article and fully understand it, but to use an article as a tool.  Don’t worry if you have no idea what an article is talking about, that’s why you need to make a vocabulary list.  The more vocabulary you get under your belt, the easier it will become.  Don’t get frustrated about the details of an article.  Right now you want to keep learning fun and interesting, and although you want to push yourself, if you expect too much you will hit a wall.

For the Intermediate to Advanced

For the intermediate, pick relatively short articles you find interesting.  Even though you’re at the intermediate level, I still recommend keeping them pretty short because it can get frustrating.  I almost find it more frustrating to read at an intermediate level than at a beginner level because I’m JUST on the precipice of understanding, but somehow still can’t do it.  Reading a shorter article gets you the reward of having completed an article faster, and will motivate you to try another one.

If you are at an advanced level, you will be able to read longer articles without stopping and consulting a dictionary very frequently.  At this point, you should be able to get through a longer article without throwing the paper across the room, although sometimes…it still happens.

First try to read an article once over without using a dictionary to get the overall meaning.  Then sit down and read it more carefully and look up words that you can’t understand based on the context.  Take a closer look at the grammar, and try to figure out where words such as “dit, dat, deze, die” and sometimes “er” refer to.  Carefully study the prepositions, they are not always similar to the prepositions in English, and if you can become accustomed to them early on, it’s very helpful later. Keep working on your vocabulary, and add words to your vocab learning list that you find important.

Answer a few questions about the article:  What was this article about?  Who are the main sources of information?  What (if anything) happened?  What is your opinion about the article?  Try to answer these questions in Dutch using vocabulary from the article.  If you are at the advanced level, you should definitely be able to answer complicated questions in Dutch.

Do you have any advise or tips on how you use the newspaper to learn Dutch?  Let us know in the comments section below!

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