Reading Dutch literature to learn Dutch – 3 reasons why you should read (+tips for how to read)
Last week I got a very nice message from Sarah. She said that thanks to my website she was able to speak more and more Dutch. And she had also found a new hobby:
Reading Dutch literature.
I was really pleased and grateful to hear that. That is why I started this website and what makes it fun! And of course, I thought that reading Dutch literature is a great idea!
Why is her idea to read books such a good idea? Let’s start with reason number one.
- Reading Dutch is fun
Reading is fun. And when you read, you don’t have to read for the purpose of learning. You can read because you enjoy it or you are interested in a certain topic! And this gives you a good relationship with the new language. You can experience that it’s more than just learning grammar and new vocabulary. Not everything is about learning sentence structures and studying conjunctions.
- Recognizing Dutch grammar and vocabulary
With reading you can recognize new words and structures. So you don’t need to study the text but unconsciously you see and save, both words you already know and new words.
- Learn about the culture
Literature gives you an insight into Dutch life. A book provides a window into a new world, and this world might be part of your new culture.
Tips for reading Dutch literature
Where to begin with reading Dutch books?
- A Dutch translation of your favourite book and the other way around
If you know the book you can see how it’s written in Dutch. You can also take your original version and put it next to the Dutch version. Also, choose a book on a topic you’re interested in. If you’re familiar with the terminology, the chances are better that you will understand it more quickly.
It also works the other way around. Some great Dutch literature is translated into English.
- Simpler version
There are some Dutch books adapted for language learners. This means that you can read great literature but also avoid the frustration of not understanding it. These books can be found as NT2 literatuur.
- Short stories
In the same way that short movies can help short stories are a good way of starting with Dutch literature. You can find a lot of writers online.
- Comic books
I think comic books and comics strips are underrated in learning a new language. As a child I could read them all day long. I remember on a holiday in France, the first couple of days I read all the comics I had brought. In the house where we stayed there was a big collection of, amongst others, Lucky Luke and Asterix. Although I didn’t understand most of the words, I was able to understand it and also to enjoy it. The combination of text and images makes it way easier to understand the new language.
- Keep a dictionary close by
It’s very likely that you won’t understand all the words. Even I stumble upon some Dutch words that I don’t really get. It’s important that you don’t feel you have to translate every word or understand every point of grammar in the whole book.
The student I mentioned in the introduction also asked me for some recommendations for books. Maybe you could help her? What do you think are good options to read?
- Start simple
Sometimes it’s better not to focus on learning and just enjoy a book. When you start with reading Dutch, select a book that is appropriate for your level. This makes it easier and more fun to read and avoids frustration.
To help you choose a book when you want to read in Dutch, I have selected a few books. In my next blog I will post my 10 easy to read books (and this won’t contain Het Lesboek..)
Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School