15 Tips on how to expand your Dutch vocabulary
What is more important when learning a language; knowledge of grammar or acquisition of vocabulary? Well, you do need words to form your very first sentences. Putting them in the right form and order, has to do with grammar. That’s why knowledge of grammar and acquisition of vocabulary are close friends. Of course, you all know Duolingo and flashcards, so we like to share some other ideas that may help you expand your vocabulary.
1. Use your mobile phone
Use your mobile phone to take pictures of anything you come across that you do not understand. This can be a headline in a newspaper, or a word in a text, or a sign or text in the street, in a shop or restaurant. Snap it!
2. Create your own dictionary
What to do with all those pictures? Create your own dictionary, in paper form or online. Write down all words that are unknown to you in your little booklet or online document. Look up the meaning and write it down or make small drawings.
3. Getting familiar
Just writing and reading is not enough. Form simple sentences in which you use your new words, that’s how you will remember them. You can conduct a reality test on yourself, by implementing phrases in conversations with your Dutch colleagues and neighbors.
4. Television & subtitles
When you watch an English-spoken movie on tv, switch on Dutch subtitles or when it is a Dutch movie, switch on English subtitles. That is how Dutch children learn English easily, it might work for you as well.
5. Watch the Dutch newscast
Watch Dutch newscast, for kids Jeugdjournaal and for adults Journaal. Watching the news in Dutch might be a bit challenging. No worries, on UitzendingGemist you can watch each item over and over again, until you get the complete picture. You can start with just one news item first.
6. Watch video’s
Watch video’s together with your tutor, discuss the subject, and test your skills by writing a summary of what you have seen.
7. Label objects
A traditional way to familiarize yourself with the names of daily possessions is to simply label step by step your kitchen, living room, bathroom , bedroom, wardrobe, your drawer, your friend, office etc.
8. Know your false friends
Especially for those who are afraid to make mistakes, you can create a special ‘Danger Category’ in your personal vocab list. Check it out on Wikipedia´s Lijst van Valse Vrienden
9. Practice synonyms
Waiting for the bus or tram? Instead of checking your email, check Synoniemen.net and play around with some words that are new to you.
10. Dutch sayings & expressions
Lost in the jungle of Dutch expressions and sayings? You can check the meaning at Spreekwoord.nl and sometimes find the equivalent in English or French as well.
The Dutch love it! Welcome to the world of Dutch abbreviations. Research the abbreviations at Afkorting.nl
12. Sing a song
While cooking or working out, put on one of your favorite Dutch songs, and sing along.
13. Unconscious learning
Put on the radio, a podcast, Dutch music or tv, when you’re travelling, waiting, cooking or cleaning. At a certain point you will notice that you understood what was said! Geweldig! (Great!)
14. Dutch theatre
In a number of theaters in The Netherlands you can watch Dutch performances with English subtitles.
15. The weather
Last but not least, watch and study the Dutch weather forecast, and practice your weather chit-chat with any Dutch local you meet in the elevator, in the bus, at the coffee machine at work etc.
Do you have funny tips on expanding vocabulary, that you like to share with us? You can send your contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go with the flow
On our new website, that we hope to launch in September, you will find on the homepage ‘The magic phrase of the day’. This hot sauce for your Dutch conversations will help you sound like a local. Coming soon!