Taking the Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal

Taking the Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal

General
You've worked hard. U kunt wat Nederlands spreken. And you want a certificate to prove it. There are three possible official exams offered by DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs) in the Netherlands. The inburgering exam is the first exam and is on an A2 level.  This exam tends to be taken by those who need to inburger in order to meet the language requirements of the inburgering process (as it's the lowest level). The chances are that you're going to be looking at one of the two Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal. There's "Programma I" at approximately a B1 level and "Programma II" at approximately a B2 level. This article is going to focus on information about these exams, and my advice and experience of taking the Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal. The exam is broken into th
What is the Easiest Language to Learn?

What is the Easiest Language to Learn?

General
People learn languages for all sorts of reasons. It could that you have a specific purpose for learning a particular language, or it could just be that you want to learn one as a hobby. In the latter case you may decide that you want to start with a language spoken by a large number of people in order to maximise your gains, or you could simply decide that you want to learn the easiest language possible to start with. Defining how easy a language is to learn is, however, a difficult problem. First and foremost it depends on where you are coming from. An asian language, for example, is easier for a speaker of another asian language to learn. Because of that we need to set the base from which we're learning from. As you're reading this article in English, we're going to assume that you're...
Chrome Extension to Reinstate Skill Strength on Duolingo

Chrome Extension to Reinstate Skill Strength on Duolingo

Blog, Language News
If you just want the extension, keeping in mind that it's a little bit experimental, head on over to the Chrome Extension page here. You should also check out my other Chrome Extension to track what languages you're reading web pages in and set reading targets: here. For everybody who wants to read about what this extension does and how it came about, please keep on reading. Some time ago Duolingo switched to a new Crowns system. A considerable number of users found this change drastic. The key complaints being that it no longer gave you any guidance on what to learn through the SRS system and that you couldn't really re-gold your tree anymore. Recently I've been writing an extension to track the languages that people read web pages in, so they can see statistics and set reading t
Lingodeer

Lingodeer

App Reviews
I was studying Japanese on Duolingo when I first heard of Lingodeer. As I got nearer and nearer the end of the Duolingo course, the numerous bugs and problems started to get to me and I wanted to switch. LingoDeer was a breath of fresh air. Firstly, whilst Duolingo is more a collection of sentences that have been organised into topics, Lingodeer is a designed course that's organised according to topics and grammar. Further, Lingodeer actually explains the grammar as well. In every category that's a full(ish) grammar explanation before the lessons themselves (although you do have to kind of look for it as it's not immediately obvious that it's there). For me, the difference between Duolingo Japanese and Lingodeer Japanese was like night and day. Where I often sat before Duolingo think...
Memrise Review

Memrise Review

Reviews
I've been using Memrise for a while, so I thought it about time to put together a quick review as there don't seem to be many memrise reviews available. Memrise is a spaced repetition system that aims to help you learn things. Whilst you can learn many things with Memrise, there's a particular focus on languages. Memrise is available in app form for Android and iOS, but also has a web version. Memrise is available for free, but in recent times has had a pro version for additional features that is virtually constantly on special offer. I've never felt the need to pay for these additional features. Memrise let's you make your own courses, or search for and follow one of the many others that other people have created. This, I would say, is one of the benefits of Memrise. There is a lar...
Duolingo

Duolingo

App Reviews
Duolingo is the "go to" language learning app of many a language learner because of its fun and intuitive design and its ability to turn language learning into a game. Over the years, Duolingo has expanded its selection of languages so that it now teaches many languages. A common question with Duolingo is what level somebody will be at when they finish the course. You should expect to be around an A2 level in reading and lower in the other skills. A typical Duolingo course will teach you about 2000 words, along with a variety of sentences. Unlike traditional courses, these sentences often don't have much relation to anything you'd use in real life. The idea is to make them fun and for you to absorb the grammar naturally. The natural grammar absorption isn't that effective and whil...
Language Drops

Language Drops

App Reviews
It's hard to imagine a more beautiful app for learning words in a foreign language than drops. From lovely gradient backgrounds, to intuitively designed exercises, the Language Drops App is what other apps should've been in terms of design. Despite it's undeniable good looks, it has its problems. The content, for example, consists of a single list of words that is divided into categories and translated into all of the 30 languages that Drops currently supports. That means that the amount of content is much smaller than some competitors (for example, Memrise). Whether you consider that a problem though, is a matter of personal decision - you could well take the opinion that by the time you've learnt all the words in Drops then you could start learning new words through reading books rath...
Babbel Dutch Review [For Beginners]

Babbel Dutch Review [For Beginners]

Language Specific, Reviews
In my quest to learn Dutch I have paid for precisely two pieces of software. The first was memrise,  which is perfectly fine in it’s free version but I felt like supporting it. The second is Babbel. Babbel cost me around about £50 for the year. Babbel divides it’s course into lessons. For Dutch, Babbel has a limited amount of content. To be honest, this means that if I was signing up just for Babble Dutch then I could have got away with signing up for just 6 months. But that's one of the things that I didn't know at the time, but you do now! Babbel content is well organised and easy to understand. It also teaches you the grammar and basics as you go on. Babbel provides a more realistic learning environment than the likes of Duolingo, by which I mean that the things you are learning w
Duolingo Stories

Duolingo Stories

Language News, Reviews
Perhaps one of the best features of Duolingo is locked away in the Labs section of the site. Once you've finished the main Duolingo courses you're left in a bit of a void. You can understand a bit of the language, especially when you read. But your knowledge isn't complete enough that you could say reading was easy. In an ideal world you'd be able to find reading material that is suitable for adults (i.e. not dull as dishwater) and has an audio version that you can play to get the pronunciation set in your mind that isn't in a stupid children's character voice. For me, reading has always been the next logical step for improving and increasing vocabulary after a Duolingo course. This is where Duolingo stories comes in and its implementation is nothing short of genius. To disappoint a...
Babbel

Babbel

App Reviews
I've used Babbel before, but almost exclusively the desktop app version. As I'm learning Spanish now, it was time to try the App version. Babbel is one of the few apps that teaches grammar alongside the other elements of a language and teaches it well. It's broken into little chunks that are brought up when needed, just as the lessons are broken into chunks that make it feel like you can squeeze a lesson in here and there without it becoming a huge commitment. The app has a variety of exercises that you can carry out, from typing in words, selecting the correct one, to following along and filling in the blanks in conversations. The latter doesn't hold back from presenting words and sentences that you haven't seen before but that you can guess from the context, which is a great method...