Thursday, 28 April 2011

Easy to Understand Video

Here are two easy to understand videos for language learners. One is for Dutch learners and the other is for English Learners.

Easy to understand video are a great language learning tool, unfortunately, there aren’t that many around. This surprises me because they’re easy to make.
What should ‘Easy to Understand’ Videos be?

• Easy to understand – i.e. talking about what’s around them, what they are doing or telling an easy to follow story.
• Spoken language (real language)
• Only use one language (no translations)

For the learner. Easy to understand, means that you follow what the person says, not that you understand every single word.


This video is easy to understand because I'm talking about things that you can see and I act out actions I'm talking about


This video is easy to understand because we can see the context - a market seller doing a performance to sell peelers. He talks about his actions and at the end he talks about what a great offer this is. He also jokes. I don't understand every word but I do understand the general meaning.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Introduction to Crosstalk

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Crosstalk is a technic developed at ALG World for their Thai language learning programme. They have a unique approach to language teaching that focuses on comprehensible input. The programme aims to develop an environment for adult language learning that's based on how children learn languages. This approach has gotten very good results, especially for pronunciation with many students getting native or near native accents.

This approach is only available in Bangkok but David Long, the director of Thai studies at ALG, believes 'crosstalk' is the technic that anyone can use, to learn a language. This is what ALG says about crosstalk.

This is my current understanding of crosstalk

Basically, crosstalk is a conversation between two or more people who have different native languages. They use their native language and no translation is used. Instead varies non-verbal communication technics are used, so that the conversation is comprehensible to the people involved.

The non-verbal technics that can be used are familiar to all of us. They including drawings, use of graphics and symbols, pictures and photographs, body language (the more exaggerated, the better), movement, acting out, talking about the environment around you, and the use of objects etc. They can be used on their own but are more powerful when used in combination with one or more other technic.

For example, if you’re talking about time, the use of a clock, some timetables (train etc) and a calendar would definitely help people, who are using different languages, to better understand each other.

If you used the non-smoking symbol, it's fairly easy to indicate that it’s bad for your body and smells through body language. You can also show how expensive it is by writing the price and an upward arrow etc. The good thing about this topic is that most people have an opinion about it.

Advantages of Crosstalk

• It allows you to have an engaging conversation with someone who speaks a different language to you.
• It exposes you to spoken language.
• You use your strengths and you get comprehensible input of the other language. This point is worth expanding on. If it’s me and I use Dutch, the focus will be on correcting my Dutch as it would be pretty rubbish at the moment. Whilst I can understand some Dutch, my active vocabulary is limited and I would struggle to form sentences. It would be slow and painful for me and the Dutch person. No real conversation would be achieved if I used Dutch but it could be achieved if I used my English (my strength).
• From my knowledge (not practice yet), I believe that crosstalk can happen anywhere. You can leave the classroom behind and instead, use the real world as your class. The class with crosstalk could be in the supermarket, shops, walks, gardens, parks, places of interest, farms, factories, homes and more. Because the focus of crosstalk is comprehensible input, if you talk about the environment around you, about things and people you can see, then that would be comprehensible input.

My crosstalk story so far.

I have a theoretical understanding of crosstalk and from this I believe it’s a powerful tool for language learning, especially getting comprehensible exposure to your target language.

My goal over the next month is to move this theoretical knowledge into practical knowledge so that I can improve my Dutch significantly. Also, having a practical understanding of how crosstalk works, I’ll be in a better position to help other language learners use this technic.

My limited use of crosstalk has been with encounters at shops, markets and restaurants. This is a very superficial use of crosstalk (works well in the Netherlands because almost everyone understands English). I’ve also got some input from strangers on the street.

If you’re interested in helping develop the use of and finding out more about crosstalk, then contact me on 0630 790 269 or

Friday, 8 April 2011

Dutch Language Resources.

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For me, finding language resources is one of the most frustrating things in language learning as I feel a lot of the time I’m just wasting my time.

For example, I like to listen to the language a lot but often I go to websites and there’s no listening or very little.

So here’s a list Dutch resources I’ve been using or come across. I have a preference for Dutch only material and most of the material is TV or visual.

Taalklas TV show episode 1-12

Taalklas is a TV programme for immigrants learning Dutch. Here they have the full length programme, which are about 20 mins long. They consist of an opening sketch, vocab section, a singing sketch and some grammar. Each programme is based on a theme, i.e. the house. The programme is Dutch only.

Taalklas website

Taalklas also have their own website. You need to ‘registreren’, which is simple. You write your name and they’ll give you a pass number. This website compliments the TV show by also having exercises relating to each show. There are also 12 additional programmes and sketches on the site.

Links on 2BDutch website

More links. On this page I’ve used the following;

Woordwijzen – a five minute TV programme that introduces 5-6 new words each episode. Dutch only programme for learners.

Doe Maar Gewoon – 10-15 minutes long. This programme is about dos and don’ts in Dutch life. There are two sketches, the first shows an immigrant person/couple not following Dutch customs and the second shows them doing it right. Dutch only.

Lyrics training

But there’s only 4 Dutch songs here.

Netherlands TV

Links to some Dutch TV.

Learn Dutch with translation

I haven’t used this as it contains translations that are hard to avoid. Maybe useful for beginners.

Dutch TV with subtitles

Dutch TV with subtitles in Dutch and a choice of five different languages. Dutch TV themes include, children, political, history, comedy and music programmes. I found these useful as a lot of the videos have a Dutch focus.

Dutch Soap

If you’re into soaps, then this show might be good for you. They seem to upload the full show onto Youtube.

This is not an exhaustive list. There must be lots of quality Dutch material out there. You just have to have the patience and look.

I hope this list gets you started. A lot of the links are from the 2BDutch website. I’m sure that Youtube has a lot of potential too.

If you know any cool Dutch resources, please let me know in the comments.