Learning a second language is often a very personal affair, for all that it is usually done in a classroom, among other students, and coursework is assigned by a teacher.
Why choose one language over another? Does one have a particular affinity for the language and culture of a specific country? Or is it because learning a language promises future economic advantage?
To give credence of that last speculation, we consider that school students the world over study the English language, among other reasons for all of the potential earning power fluency may bring.
What is it about the Dutch language that captivated you? Are you planning to sit Dutch GCSEs with the intent of further education in Dutch language studies?
For some, language learning is driven by a desire to connect with their heritage; for others, foreign language study appeals because they wish to know and understand other cultures.
Whatever your reasons, your Superprof is ready to help you prepare for your Dutch language exam.
Although the GCSE is no longer available, you may sit the international Dutch language exam Source: Pixabay Credit: Free-Photos
The Dutch GCSE has been withdrawn as of this past summer (Summer 2018).
Nevertheless, you still have the opportunity to sit this exam and progress to study the language of Amsterdam at university by sitting the IGCSE.
This international version of the exam is, in many ways, similar to the standard GCSE and it is generally accepted as an equivalent.
The study materials are about the same and your study methods should be no different than if you were going to sit your language exam at school.
However, the IGCSE exam is reputed to be more rigorous; you will definitely have to double down on your studies for a satisfactory result.
Here are some other differences between the two exams:
GCSE results are only valid in England, Northern Ireland and Wales; the international exam is accredited worldwide.
The IGCSE is generally only administered outside of Great Britain; however, more and more private and independent schools in our country favour that exam precisely because it is internationally recognised.
The University of Cambridge International Examinations division designed both the international GCSE exam and its syllabus.
By contrast, the GCSEs are developed and overseen by British entities AQA, OCR, Edexcel and Pearson in cooperation with the Department for Education.
Whereas the GCSE score incorporates coursework in its assessment, the IGCSE does not.
As you might see, there are certain advantages to sitting the international exam even though some aver it might be more difficult.
Its level of difficulty shouldn’t matter to you because you have studied extensively and you are ready for anything any examiner can throw at you!
Let us now find what you can expect to find on this exam.
In order to properly prepare, you must know what to prepare for. To that end, we searched the programme’s current syllabus to find that you will be tested in all four areas of language learning: reading and writing, and listening. Naturally, you will also be assessed on your ability to speak Dutch.
Score-wise, all four components carry equal weight and none will take more than one hour to complete.
The reading portion will see you confronted with a series of short texts, with questions at the end of each paragraph designed to test comprehension. The writing segment calls for you to address three prompts.
You will have one hour to complete each task.
Your listening ordeal will challenge you with several recordings from which you must answer a series of questions and your speaking will be tested through two role plays, in addition to a general conversation and a dialogue over a specific topic.
You will be allotted 45 minutes for each of these facets.
Mind the time as you review: you will be kept to time limits on exam day Source: Pixabay Credit: Free-Photos
Furthermore, the syllabus indicates all of the testing materials are tailored to five topic areas. They are:
Everyday activities: home, school and fitness activities
Personal and social life – family and personal relationships; holidays
The world around us: hometown, people, places and customs
The world of work: careers and employment; language in the workplace
The international world – tourism, world events and life abroad
How is your vocabulary regarding these topics? Might you need to brush up a bit?
Now that you know the framework of what will be expected of you and how you must prove your knowledge, we can go on the hunt for suitable review texts and workbooks.
Our first stop would, of course, be the Cambridge International website.
There, you will find several documents available for download in PDF format: the last exam cycle’s paper and marking scheme, a few specimen papers, and some role play cards to get you familiar with the exercise.
You will also find a few recommendations for textbooks; among them, a volume titled Concise Dutch Grammar and a book-and-cassette packed titled Teach Yourself Dutch.
Both volumes are available for order from the Cambridge website, or you may find them on Amazon – just be sure to order the latest edition so that you learn from the most up-to-date materials!
One more recommendation, while you’re browsing that online marketplace: you should invest in a good Dutch English dictionary if you don’t already have one.
Naturally, if you are already so advanced that you are preparing for IGCSEs, you may need materials more suited to your language levels.
Because of the recent cessation of administering this exam at the GCSE level, you may be dismayed to find a rather shallow history of past papers, marking schemes, notes and other resources.
Hence we direct you to Papa Cambridge, whose website has stockpiled everything you might need to review for your Dutch 0515 exam in archives that date back to 2003.
Speaking Dutch with a tutor online is a good way to prepare for your IGCSE Source: Pixabay Credit: Janeb13
If your exam were only about reading and writing and the understanding thereof, perhaps only reviewing past papers would be sufficient practice in the run-up to test day.
However, the syllabus expressly states that you will converse with Dutch speakers and must meet or exceed the listening qualification.
So, you must also hone your spoken language skills and listening comprehension.
You might consider taking Dutch language courses outside of school; perhaps through The Dutch Language School.
No worries if you don’t live in Oxford, where they are located; you may sign up for their language course online.
Their distance learning IGCSE preparation course will provide you with work and review in all of the elements featured on the examination.
Besides their course outline, they will provide you with a study tracker so you can measure your progress and make note of where you need more practice and a series of online exercises to measure your achievement in mastering each lesson.
For your studies on the go, you might tune in to DutchPod101, a series of bite-sized lessons in Dutch language and culture hosted by native speakers of Dutch.
Because you are so far advanced in your language training, you may have to skip ahead to find new language to learn, or you may enjoy listening to Basic Dutch as a way to relax.
Either way, tuning in exposes you to native Dutch speakers talking about a variety of subjects, including the ones on your exam syllabus.
What is absolutely great about this website is that you will have the chance to participate in the language learning forum, where other students of Dutch discuss their difficulties and share tips on how to learn faster and better.
What about private tuition? People hire tutors all the time to help prepare for GCSE exams!
Of course, we’re not talking about studying for a GCSE maths or brushing up on English literature and, of all modern foreign languages one might sit GCSEs in, Dutch is decidedly not in favour – that is why the exam was withdrawn.
Wouldn’t that make finding a Dutch tutor difficult?
That depends on where you look!
Superprof has more than 100 Dutch tutors scattered all over Great Britain: if there are none close to you, you may choose to work with a Superprof tutor online.
A sizable percentage of our Dutch tutors are native speakers who have relocated to our country. Or, if you prefer to study with someone for whom Dutch is their second language – so that s/he understands your upcoming ordeal better, Superprof has those tutors, too!
Most of our Dutch tutors give their first hour of lessons at no cost so that you can determine if that tutor is the right one for you. And, at an average rate of £18 per hour of instruction, you will certainly consider that money well-spent; especially when you score well on your exam!
It is indeed tragic that there are not enough language students interested in Dutch to keep it as a GCSE component.
Wouldn’t it be super if more people knew all the great reasons for learning Dutch?
Still, your sitting the more rigorous IGCSE has a silver lining: it is internationally accepted so you may find it easier to enrol in universities abroad!
Study well; your future awaits…