How to pass ‘Het Inburgeringsexamen’ – part 3: Speaking
You’ve decided to take the inburgeringsexamen (civic integration exam) and you’ve started looking to prepare. But like many others, you are finding it difficult to know where to begin. In this series of blogs I will give you the most important tips for how to prepare for the Inburgeringsexamen.
In part one and two I focused on the written and listening sections of the exam. In part three of the series ‘How to prepare for ‘Het Inburgeringsexamen’ I will look at speaking (spreekvaardigheid).
The required level of all competences is A2 level. So what is spoken A2 level?
Speaking at an A2 level
Speaking at an A2 level means that you can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms your family and other people, your living conditions, your educational background and your present or most recent job.
You take the speaking exam on a computer and it lasts 35 minutes. You will have to understand and speak Dutch. The exam consists of two parts. In part one you will watch videos in which someone speaks to you. You give your answer into your headphone. This answer should make sense and be grammatically correct (!)
You could get a question like:
Veel Nederlanders eten om 6 uur ’s avonds. Wat vindt u daarvan? Zeg ook hoe laat u zelf meestal eet. (Many Dutch people eat dinner at 6 o clock in the evening. What do you think of that? Also say what time you usually eat.)
Some students find it strange to talk into the headphones, instead of to a real person. Don’t get distracted by this and try to speak as naturally as possible.
Most students find part two of the exam easier and more relaxing. In part two you will see a video with a short text and multiple choice questions. In these videos you will see and hear everyday situations. The video stops just before a person in the video would respond. You should select the correct answer in the multiple choice.
That brings me to the next question: how do you prepare for the speaking part of the inburgeringexamen?
Practise by doing it
The advice I gave in my previous blog about the listening exam also applies for this exam. The best way to prepare for your speaking exam is to speak as much as possible.
The best way is to speak with a native Dutch speaker. If you live and work in The Netherlands you can ask a friend or a colleague to speak with you in Dutch. I often hear that at first it’s strange to talk in a different language with someone you are used to speaking English with. But you will see it really helps, even if it’s just a couple of minutes every day. Also ask them to correct you and a great way to do this is to ask, ”How would you say that in Dutch?” Hoe zeg jij dat in het Nederlands?
It is possible that you’re not in a position to be able to talk with a native Dutch speaker, because you don’t live in the Netherlands, for example. Here are 3 tips that can help you.
Tip 1: Find someone to speak with, it doesn’t have to be a Dutch person
First, if you can find a person to speak with and he or she isn’t a native Dutch speaker…. that’s fine as well! The most important thing is that you are speaking and putting the grammar and sentences you’ve learned into practice.
Tip 2: Look for language meet ups close you to
Nowadays it’s easy to get in touch with people who are in the same situation as you. In most big cities there are language meet ups. Also, thanks to modern social networking websites you can look for language events close to you.
Tip 3: Try to sing along to your favorite Dutch songs
It may sound a bit strange, but singing along with Dutch songs can help you pronounce short sentences and expressions.
What if you don’t have someone to practise with? Maybe you don’t live in the Netherlands. Or maybe you feel a bit afraid of practising Dutch in real life? Maybe going to meetups with people you don’t know is not really your thing?
A good school will definitely focus a lot on speaking during the lessons. You simply need to apply what you have learned from the book or my e-learning package. But it’s not only the practice during the lessons, your fellow students in the classroom are in the same position as you. So it’s the best place to find someone who is interested in practising with you.
In our Dutch Summer School and Dutch Winter School we focus a lot on speaking exercises during the lessons… and in addition, we try to create an atmosphere in which people become friends, where people are not afraid to make mistakes and you can find a buddy to practise speaking Dutch.
Good luck with the preparation of the Inburgeringsexamen!
You can find more information and also practice exams (Oefenexamen) on the official website https://www.inburgeren.nl.
Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School