31/08/2014 19:22

How can you help yourself to memorise Dutch vocabulary?

Increasing your vocabulary is very important for your general progress in Dutch. To express yourself more fully and in a more sophisticated way, you will ideally need about 4,000 words. 

What does knowing a new word mean?

It is not enough just to know the meaning of a word. You also need to know: 

  • which words it is usually used with;
  • its grammatical characteristics;
  • how it is pronounced;
  • whether it is formal, informal or neutral.

So when you learn a word you should make sure that you:

  • Learn new words in phrases, not in isolation.
  • Notice how words commonly go together. These are called collocations and include:

- adjectives + nouns, e.g. rijke woordenschat, klassieke muziek, gezond verstand;

- nouns in phrases, e.g. contact opnemen met, een beslissing nemen, gevoel voor humor;

- words + prepositions, e.g. beschikken over iets, verlangen naar iets of iemand.

  • Notice special grammatical chracteristics of new words. For example, note irregular verbs, e.g. zitten, zat, gezeten; uncountable nouns, e.g. bagage; or nouns that are only used in the plural, e.g. kosten, hersenen.
  • Notice any special pronunciation problems with new words.
  • Check if the word is particularly formal or informal in character, in other words if it has a particular register.

How can you help yourself to memorise words?

Research suggests that some students find it easier to learn words if they (a) learn them in groups and (b) make use of pictures.

You can group words in any way you like - topic, grammatical feature, word root, and so on. Pictures can help you to remember the meaning.

You can also help yourself to learn more words and expressions by (c) reading and listening to as much Dutch as possible. Here are some ideas about things you can read or listen to: comics, recipes, newspapers, DVDs, TV (subtitled), cinema, podcasts, songs, fiction, magazines, radio, tweets, audio books, sports reports, YouTube, professional or academic literature, reference material (dictionaries, encyclopedias). conversations, poetry, blogs.

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