How to prepare for the Dutch civic integration exam – part 2: Listening
You’ve decided to take the inburgeringsexamen (civic integration exam) and you’ve started looking to prepare. But like many others, you find it difficult to know where to begin. In a series of blogs I will give you the most important tips for how to prepare for the Inburgeringsexamen.
In the previous article I focused on the written section of the exam. In part two of the series ‘How to prepare for ‘Het Inburgeringsexamen’ I will look at listening (luistervaardigheid).
The required level of all language competences in the exam is A2 level. So what is A2 level listening?
Listening at an A2 level
Listening at A2 level means that you can understand phrases and the most commonly used vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance. So this vocabulary is about very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area and employment. A2 level listening indicates that you can catch the main points in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.
The listening exam (luistervaardigheid) is taken on a computer. You will be asked questions about videos and spoken texts. For example, about going to the doctor or going to school. The questions are multiple choice questions where you have to choose from 3 or 4 options. During the exam it’s possible to pause the video and then select different sections of the video. The exam takes 45 minutes.
So how do you prepare for the listening part of the inburgeringexamen?
Practise by doing it
If you want to prepare for your listening exam, the best way to prepare is, of course, to listen. A LOT!
And thanks to the internet, loads of Dutch speaking material is available, for example on Youtube. But you will soon notice, that most of what you see (hear) online is simply too difficult… it’s too fast, and it contains many more words than you know.
So how do you select the right videos for the A2 level and what is the best way to watch and listen?
Heb je zin?
That’s the main reason why I made my ‘Heb je zin?’ videos: for people who have just started learning Dutch and who would like to practise.
‘Heb je zin?’ is an animated soap opera for Dutch learners. Videos with the words and grammar from beginner level to A2, where the speech is not too fast, but challenging enough to learn. It will help you to get used to the sounds.
There are 2 versions of the videos; without subtitles and with subtitles. The best way to train your listening skills is to watch first of all without subtitles, and then watch it again with subtitles.
The aim of ‘Heb je zin?’ is not only to train your listening skills, but also to practise grammar. Each video concentrates on a particular grammar construction. So you learn 2 things at the same time!
Videos about subjects you’re interested in
As a next step, my advice is to search for videos that you find interesting. First there’s a greater chance that you will know more of the vocabulary. Second, and I strongly believe this, you will have more fun listening and practising, so you will be more motivated and make greater progress.
When I was learning Spanish… at the same time I was preparing to run a marathon. And I really was interested in everything related to training for the marathon. So then I found a Spanish vlogger on Youtube with a channel about running! In the beginning it was hard for me to understand. But after I bought a few running journals, that I deciphered with the use of a dictionary, I became familiar with Spanish running terminology and it became progressively easier to understand those vlogs.
There is more than Youtube
When you are searching for suitable videos, be sure to check out npo.nl, the Dutch public television website.
Programs that I would recommend watching are: het NOS-journaal (the daily news), and het Klokhuis (it’s a program for children, but always about 1 subject, which makes it easy to understand).
The good thing about npo.nl is that all programs can be watched with captions in Dutch (which is not always the case with Youtube videos)
As well as videos, also check out Dutch radio, or even better, Dutch podcasts about a subject you’re interested in.
How to watch the videos
Just like with the ‘Heb je zin?’ videos, the best way to watch videos is always to first watch the entire video without subtitles (and without pausing the video).
After all, in the real word there’s no pause button and no subtitles, either.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything. You don’t need to understand every single word or construction. Aim to have a general understanding of the video and to distinguish essential words.
Is it too difficult? Then watch it again with Dutch subtitles (if it has subtitles).
It’s important to note is that spoken language is not always very correct. So don’t worry too much about solving the puzzle of a difficult sentence.
Listening exercises on learndutch.org
Do you want to test your listening skills? On learndutch.org you will find videos with exercises. Watch the video without pausing it and then answer the questions about the video. After that, to get a better understanding of the video and also your mistakes, you can re-watch the video with or without English subtitles.
It’s possible that you will find these videos difficult. The level indication is A2/B1, so it’s higher than the required level for the inburgeringsexamen.
Good luck with your preparation for the Inburgeringsexamen!
You can find more information and also practice exams (Oefenexamens) on the official website www.inburgeren.nl. And for help with reaching level A2, my online courses #dutchgrammar-1 and #dutchgrammar-2 will help you to reach that level.
Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School