Learn about Dutch culture and language by reading books

Windmills, clogs and Dutch franchise; as a country you can only be known for so many things. The culture of the Netherlands, however, is not as flat as its landscape. If you want to get a feel for its culture, the folks at Regina Coeli recommend that you read books. Not travel guides or informative books, but novels written by Dutch authors. If you take Dutch reading seriously, your knowledge of the language will improve as well.

The value of reading novels

The novels give you the opportunity to sympathize with the characters and to immerse yourself in a world of experiences more or less colored by the cultural background of the author. By reading books by Dutch writers, you learn more about the Dutch perspective on topics such as the importance of religion, colonization, immigration and large-scale events.

How do you read Dutch literature?

Nobody says you have to read books in Dutch. Many Dutch books have been translated into several languages, such as these titles:

  • Evening discomfort – Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, winner of the International Booker Prize 2020
  • The discovery of paradise -Harry Mulisch
  • Bonita Avenue – Peter Buwalda
  • In Europe – Geert Mak
  • The Sisters of Auschwitz – Roxane van Iperen

If you already know how to read a little Dutch, put yourself to the test with one of these less difficult books in their original language:

  • Het achterhuis – Anne Frank (the world famous diary of a woman hidden in Amsterdam)
  • Het dinner -Herman Koch
  • Oosterschelde windkracht 10 – Jan Terlouw (on the 1953 flood)
  • From the dagboeken series by Hendrik Groen (about the life of the elderly in a Dutch retirement home; reminder of Adriana Mole’s diaries)
  • Lampje – Annet Schaap (award-winning children’s book about a girl growing up in a lighthouse)

Or, alternatively, go to leeslicht.nl for novels written in plain Dutch.

Improve your Dutch by reading

By reading a book in a foreign language, not only do you develop your vocabulary, but you also get a feel for the sentence structure, the rhythm of the language and how its grammar is used. You get to know different styles of speaking by reading the conversations, and because you can see the words in front of you, you are also able to remember them better.

Much of the foreign literature has been translated into Dutch, so you can even choose to read Dutch translations of your favorite novels.

Make sure you take a relaxed approach to reading and don’t search for all the words you don’t know. Instead, try to guess the meaning of the word from its context. If you still can’t figure it out, underline the word and read on. Watch it later. That way you can keep reading and make history.

A natural feeling for the Dutch language

When you read in Dutch you go through all kinds of processes in your head to get a natural feel for the language. It works the same when it comes to talking. By doing this, you improve yourself and automatically learn the language of your interlocutors.

If you want to speed up this process, or if you need help improving your pronunciation, then a language course in Regina Coeli is a great idea. Contact us now and find out which languages ​​you could start learning today!

About Marcia G. Hussain

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