Dutch B1 Reading Skill – 5 Tips guides you through what is considered the most accessible language skill: reading. Whenever you ask a language learner: ‘How is your (Dutch, English, Italian, etc)?’ they inevitably answer: ‘I can read it quite well, but speaking is a problem. In these 5 Tips, we’ll help you to require your reading skills at level B1 in the most effective way.
Estimated reading time 7 minutes
Margreet Kwakernaak, author and director of Suitcase talen. The third edition of Dutch for Dummies was released in June 2023
Dutch B1 Reading Skill Tip 1: Open your eyes and your reading materials are there
Sure, this Tip is obvious when you live in the Netherlands. As soon as your alarm goes off, you read your first Dutch on your phone.
Download the free NOS App and choose the notifications you want to receive: news or sports or both. NOS is the Dutch public broadcaster, and their notifications generally are just one sentence. Slowly you’ll start to recognize words- especially if you also follow the news through other media. No problem when you don’t understand – someday you will, as long as you keep looking up new words whenever you can.
After that, when you enter the bathroom – Dutch is there! Unless you continue using products of your own country only – in that case, you will not read words like ‘tandpasta’ and ‘voor gezond tandvlees en sterke tanden’ Easy to guess what those words mean.
At breakfast, you’ll find more Dutch, like ‘soya, plantaardig, boordevol eiwitten’ Well, ‘soya’ is international, ‘vol’= full and eiwitten: what is in milk and soya drinks? Lots of proteins! And so on, and so on – never a dull moment. Moreover, the Dutchies introduce more and more English in our commercial texts, so talking over product descriptions with your table mates, is a fun game. Word learning: make it part of your daily life gives you more options to learn new words in a fun way.
Out in the street, the reading continues. Billboards, shopping windows, and signs in public transport. In short, when you live in the Netherlands, you cannot escape Dutch – take your chances!
B1 reading skill Tip 2: Getting to B1 with the local paper
Many Dutch people have a sticker on their mailbox Nee Ja, Nee Nee, or Ja Nee. The first Ja/Nee means is about receiving brochures with offers from supermarkets and other shops. A waste of paper, better download the Reclamefolder app with the weekly offers of your favorite shops.
However, the second Nee/Ja means informs the deliverer whether you permit the free local paper. This is local news, things to happen in your neighborhood, information about the municipality, a cultural agenda, events for children, and, of course, weekly offers.
The local paper helps to get your reading skills at level B1. Moreover, it belongs to ‘inburgeren’, civic integration! 10 minutes per week ‘headhunting’, that is reading the headlines and the subtitles of the photos, is worth it: you’ll find many useful words and sentences. Find more on level B1 in Dutch B1, The Main Points
You can order the ja nee sticker on the website of your municipality.
Reading Tip 3: what a B1 Reading text is like
In the CEFR, the European system of determining language levels, all skills in the different levels are explained by ‘can do’ statements. It says about reading and listening: A person at level B
- Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
- Can deal with most situations likely to arise while traveling in an area where the language is spoken.
So, what kind of texts do we have to think of?
- Mostly informative texts, such as emails and brochures about practical work, school, and municipality matters.
As many non-native Dutch people are living in the Netherlands, most official documents are written at level B1. However, when they are about very specific themes, like religion or law, you will not understand.
- In the personal sphere, you will be able to read a Dutch email of a friend or a relative when they are about things that happened, holidays and trips, with any personal feelings and wishes
- You can understand news in simple Dutch. Internet texts are easier than news on paper. Consequently, at level B1, you should understand most of Nu.nl.This free news app, is a mix of videos and texts.
Tip 4: Users of the Delft method have a head start on the reading B1 exam
The Delft method has been developed by TU Delft, Technical University Delft, and has been a proven success for 40 years.
You prepare your class with e-learning and you exercise in conversation class. It’s the fastest way of learning Dutch – if you are willing to study hard. In the Suitcase talen 5-week online modules you learn 100 new words per week. You have two online conversation classes per week, and the study load is 4-6 hours – for 5 weeks.
As language level B1 requires 4400 words, that makes 44 weeks: less than a year. Some students, even those who work full-time, manage! However, the practice has taught us, that we should count with a year. Sure, that is the same as traditional B1 methods.
However, there is a significant difference: Delft method students speak twice as fluently as students who learn Dutch with a traditional course. Moreover, in the Delft method students use their 4400 words actively. On the other hand, traditional students just recognize them – in the written and spoken texts of others. And here is your head start for your Dutch B1 reading skill: your extended vocabulary!
Tip 5 on reading: Subjects to expect at the B1 exam: Education, work, popular sciences, and technology
The reading State exam at level B1 takes 110 minutes. It includes 6 texts, and you have to answer 35 multiple-choice questions.
The subjects of the reading exams can be divided into 4 categories:
work, education, popular sciences, and technology.
As soon as you try your first reading exam at level B1, you’ll notice that most subjects are on specific work and education subjects and use professional language. Fortunately, the more specific the texts are, the more global are the questions! It’s not necessary to understand every line.
Although I foresee that these exams will become more general and shorter, the level will stay higher than that of the reading exams of Civic Integration Exam A2. That can be passed with a vocabulary of 1100 words, after having studied 20 Delft method texts, for 10 weeks.
Conclusion Dutch B1 Reading Skill
- Read new words whenever and wherever
- the local paper leads you to B1
- B1 texts are nonfiction and informative
- The Delft method brings you a large vocabulary
- B1 reading texts focus on work, education, technology, and popular science
Learning Dutch with Suitcase talen and The Delft method
Suitcase talen students are highly educated and from all over the world. As Suitcase talen is based in Almere, near Amsterdam, most students are expats living in the Netherlands.
Though courses are meant for full-time working people, they are speedy and require good motivation. Online classes and modules of 5 weeks offer the flexibility that busy people need.
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