Practicing Dutch from Home Posted by Karoly Molina on Apr 8, 2020 in Culture
Next week, those of us living in the Netherlands and Belgium will reach the 1 month mark of social distancing. Although Belgium and the Netherlands have taken different approaches, the idea of limiting social interaction to flatten the curve is at the core of each strategy. For those of us learning a language, social distancing might mean that we practice the language less.
But staying at home doesn’t have to mean that we leave our much treasured languages to suffer. Because so many people are staying at home, there is an abundance of material available to continue practicing. In this post, I would like to suggest some interesting ways to continue practicing Dutch.
I have been living in the Netherlands for more than six years, and I have yet to make it to the beautiful spring gardens of the Keukenhof. Every spring, I delay going until it is too late and the park is closed. For those not familiar with this park, Keukenhof is a park full of tulips and other spring flowers. Every year, there is a new theme and the flowers are planted in different designs and color schemes. Below is a short excerpt of the Keukenhof website that explains how this park became a yearly public attraction:
In 1949 bedacht een groep toonaangevende bloembollenkwekers en -exporteurs het plan om op het landgoed een tentoonstelling van voorjaarsbloeiende bloembollen te maken. Het lentepark Keukenhof was een feit. In 1950 ging het park voor het eerst open. Het was direct een succes: 236.000 bezoekers. In 2020 vindt de 71e editie plaats met als thema A world of Colours. In de afgelopen 70 jaar is Keukenhof uitgegroeid tot een wereldwijd begrip.
Because the park will not open to the public this year, the people in charge have created an online tour of the gardens with interesting facts about the bulbs and design of the space. You can see the videos via the Keukenhof website or on their social media channels. Every few days, a new video is released. The first video is below.
All museums in the Netherlands and Belgium have had to close, however, this has not meant that the museum staff are not hard at work trying to find ways to bring more information, exhibitions and art to the people. The Rijksmuseum, for example, launched #Rijsmuseumfromhome where several of their curators create videos from home. In these videos, they take a dive into a particular painting. These videos are in English. If you are looking for something in Dutch, I recommend their podcasts. You can find all their resources on their website.
The Vincent van Gogh Museum also brings Vincent’s art to people’s home. For those of you home-schooling, there are also a variety of resources and activities for children. My favorite part of the van Gogh’s museum resources is the podcast of Vincent’s letters read by Dutch artists, actors, and writers. Check this link for the podcast and this link for the overall collection of resources the museum has.
In Belgium, the Konijklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten or the Royal Fine Arts Museum has a digital exhibition of some of their most iconic works. You can access their resources via this link.
Podcast are a great way to practice listening with interesting and actual topics. The problem I have encountered is how to sift through all the podcasts available. One of the most interesting collections of Dutch-spoken podcasts that I have come across is from the independent news source De Correspondent. They have a variety of topics such as art, economics, politics, literature, etc. These are quite varied so you are bound to find something you find interesting. I have personally been listening to “De Binnenbühne” collection about musicians, actors and other performers whose performances are cancelled and their hours of work lost due to the corona measures. These performers talk about what it has meant for them to invest countless hours in practicing and to not be able to culminate in a performance with an audience. You can see the collection of podcasts in this link.
Another great source for podcasts is the Dutch television producer VPRO. On their website you can find all their podcasts, as well as many of the shows they produce for Dutch television. You can see their full list in this link.
What other resources would you add to this list? Please share on the comments section and stay healthy!
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