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My experience and tips - Staatsexamen NT2 programma I

NT2 is 'Nederlands als Tweede Taal' or 'Dutch as a second language. 'Inburgering' is 'integration'. Many people who settle in the Netherlands have to do the 'inburgeringsexamen' or 'Staatsexamen NT2'. In this subforum, you can ask questions about this exam. If you have already done the exam, you are warmly invited to share your experience with us!

My experience and tips - Staatsexamen NT2 programma I

Postby JDjazz » February 10th, 2012, 3:08 pm

Hello everyone,

First post here! :)

I've just joined this forum to share my experience and tips regarding Staatsexamen NT2 programma I, of which I've recently earned the diploma. I'm originally from S Korea and living in Holland almost for 2 years now. It took me about 13 months since I started my NT2 course until I completed all the four exams - writing, reading, listening and speaking. Like many others I was a total newbie to this language when I first started the journey and it seemed so unclear if I would make all the exams in time, but after some dedication and patience, I realized that it was very possible to do so.

The following was initially intended for my own friends, but I thought it would be great to share it with more people:

***

In general, these exams were by no means extremely difficult or impossible to make. In fact, far from it. That was what I felt anyway. After all, It was quite "doable" (well at least I can say that now safely ;-)). That means that you don't have to be able to speak perfect Dutch, and with some dedication you can make it too. Obviously, however, it still requires a certain level of knowledge and it's very important that you're familiar with basic grammar and vocabulary.

In the following text I will try and explain what you should be aware of for each area of the exams. Please note that this is mainly based on my personal judgement and impressions, so it might turn out a little different in your actual exams, but I hope you still get the picture. :-)

1. SCHRIJVEN (WRITING) - I was allowed to do this one as the first exam as I always found writing much easier than speaking. While it basically had the same kind of questions as the "voorbeeldexamens"/example exams (from 2001-2004), the format was slightly different (it had some extra graphics, for example) and it felt a bit more difficult (although they say the difficulty of each exam always changes - sometimes easier, sometimes more difficult). I believe that many people don't feel very comfortable with this exam, but you certainly don't need to know all kind of difficult details of Dutch grammar, all you need is really just basic (= the most important) grammar. You still do need to be careful/well prepared with the following:

Word order: Dutch word order is a bit different from English, isn't it? I know it can be very confusing (tell me about it). Make sure you clearly understand how it works, how Dutch sentences are constructed. The most important thing would probably be verbs. Be extra careful of the position of verbs as well as their form, which are placed differently in hoofdzin (main clause) and bijzin(sub-clause). Be very careful with inversion too. Get a nice, clearly explained grammar book (in English if it's easier) and invest extra time on your "weak spots". Clarify any doubts.

Keep it short and simple: they are open questions, so there are no fixed answers. This means that you can be flexible and make your sentences as short and simple as possible. They will still count as perfect as long as they have no or very little/minor grammatical error. Try to avoid mistakes and use words and/or construction only when you are sure of it. Make sure your answers are still logical and respond correctly to what the questions ask. You are allowed to look up words in your dictionary (up to 3 dictionaries) if you need to (which can be quite handy if you need to check the past form of a verb or find certain words, for example), but try to minimize its use as it also takes time.
In part 2, where you have to write much longer text, this basic principle would still be valid.
(In fact, I had to fill up only a few sentences instead of writing a whole big paragraph for one of those three questions, but I still had to provide several sentences for the other two questions.)

Use your time wisely: unfortunately the time you're given for these exams is not so generous. It flies. Don't dwell on a specific question for too long, instead quickly write anything you can come up with (this is the case especially with the part 1 where you have to write relatively short answers to many questions - you can always go back and correct it later anyway) or just skip it for now if it's too difficult - otherwise you wouldn't have enough time for all the other questions. Time was really tight for me, and with part 2 (which contains 3 questions), I actually spent too much time on the first question and therefore I was really in a hurry with the last question, I was literally in panic... Try to avoid this!

Of course, all of your answers do not need to be perfect in order to pass the exam, chances are that you will still get some points as long as you try and write. So don't worry too much. :-) Just try to minimize mistakes and answer all questions (or as many as possible).
By the way, I've read that this writing exam will soon be digitalized (somewhere this year). It would become then much easier to formulate/correct your answers than writing them on the paper!

2. LEZEN (READING) - personally, reading has always been the easiest part for me and it was also the case with the actual exam. In many cases you do not need to read every single word, you just need to find the specific information after reading each question first. You are also allowed to use dictionaries (up to 3) but you'd better use them only when you really need to in order to save your precious time. Like writing exam, don't stay on certain questions for too long, just keep going and try and answer all the questions first, and then you can always go back and check them when you still have some extra time. If you've tried those voorbeeldexamens and still found them all difficult, all I can say is try and read as much material as possible on a daily basis. Whenever I read or study some text, I try to break down each sentence into "pieces" and "investigate" into grammar, structure, word usage, etc., especially when it's rather complex text. I believe this practice may help understand/analyze text better and quicker. (I also always try to read the text out loud, which I think definitely helps other aspects such as speaking/pronunciation.)

3. LUISTEREN (LISTENING) - it had almost the same type of questions as the voorbeeldexamens, except that my actual exam felt way more difficult. I think I was just incredibly lucky enough to make it. I've always found this area quite troublesome, it just takes time to get used to it, I guess. Like in the voorbeeld exams, you only have one chance to listen to each question and many of the questions are quite tricky. But don't feel too intimidated and just move forward even if you are not sure about some questions. Don't think too much and always choose an answer in any case. My last advice would be this: try to listen as much as possible to TV, radio, other people or whatever it is in your daily life and get use to it. There is obviously no other way to improve your listening skills.

4. SPREKEN (SPEAKING) - I was always struggling with this area from the beginning (I used to feel like a little kid who murmurs word by word), but even some quick practice actually pays off. The actual exam felt quite "easy" after preparing myself intensively for the last 2 weeks or so (which was quite a bit of progress when I think about the first time I did my first voorbeeld exam and I was totally in panic), although I did make lots of little mistakes - luckily there's no fixed answer and therefore it's flexible, like writing exam. One thing I noticed was that while I had to use lots of "perfectum" (ik heb .... gedaan, ik ben ... gegaan, etc.) in those voorbeeldexamens, I hardly had to say these kind of sentences in the actual exam, which means that I had to answer most questions in present tense. I often had to ask someone to do something or give my opinion and explain why, or respond to someone, and yet there was no question such as someone asking me what I have done yesterday/this afternoon/etc. (But of course, you never know - you might have to use perfectum or imperfectum too, so it wouldn't hurt if you still practice them as well.)
The bottom line is this: try and be better prepared by practicing Dutch as much as possible in your daily life (which was actually part of my regret right before the exam). Practice with all the example exams, with help of someone who speaks fluent Dutch. Make sure you check out the assessment material ("beoordelingsvoorschriften") for those exams too (you can download them as well as the exams from http://www.cve.nl/item/voorbeeldexamens_tips_en). And also try and come up with your own possible questions and answers. For this exam, you do not need massive vocabulary or complex grammar, just make it basic, clear and simple, just like writing exam. As you don't get much time for each question (like the other exams), you just have to think and answer very quick. The thing is that you also have to first think "carefully" before you start talking to prevent mistakes... (oh the dilemma). But we have to accept that some mistakes are inevitable, it's just part of the process, because no one's perfect. :-) Just do your best even if you don't know what to say, you might still get some points anyway!
(Honestly, I don't think you should worry too much about this speaking exam - even "I" made it, after all.)

***

Hope this helps some people here too! I'll try and answer ASAP if there are any questions.

Veel succes!

JD
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My experience and tips - Staatsexamen NT2 programma I

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Re: My experience and tips - Staatsexamen NT2 programma I

Postby ngonyama » February 10th, 2012, 9:12 pm

Hi JD

First of all thank you for a very well written piece. I would imagine that quite a few people are interested in your experiences. I have a question though. Obviously you have a very good command of the English language, so to what extent did that help or hinder you? What would it have been like if you only had spoken Korean e.g.?
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Re: My experience and tips - Staatsexamen NT2 programma I

Postby Bert » February 10th, 2012, 10:01 pm

Hello JDjazz,

Your English is excellent as Ngonyama has already mentioned (only "...you just have to think and answer very quick." -> "...you just have to think and answer very quickly."). If your Dutch is as good as your English then it's no wonder you passed this exam. :)
I'd like to know how much time was given for each section/domain (schrijven, lezen etc.). And, if it's not illegal to make public, what were you talking about during the speaking part?

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Re: My experience and tips - Staatsexamen NT2 programma I

Postby JDjazz » February 11th, 2012, 11:23 am

Hi ngonyama and Bert, thank you very much for your nice words!

For ngonyama's question (that's a good one question!)- I think being able to speak English definitely helped me, considering that English bears much more similarity to Dutch than Korean does and that I could also use the same "tactic" that I used to learn/improve my English for Dutch (and at least you already know all the Roman alphabet ;)). However, it means that it can confuse you in a way at the same time, i.e. the basic word order "subject-verb-object" is the same in both English and Dutch but there are still some differences when it comes to more "complex" sentences with more elements and some words might look similar but can mean something different. I noticed that during my class quite a few people (and myself included at first) often said "zo" instead of "dus" because they confused it with English "so", for example. I also remember that I used to be a little confused when I heard "hoe", which sounds like English "who". But overall, it was never a big obstacle for me.

And for Bert - it takes about 2 hours for schrijven (1 hour for part 1 and 1 hour for part 2 - you get a little pause in-between), 110 minutes for lezen, 70 minutes for luisteren and 30 minutes for spreken, excluding the extra time for instruction and checking your ID. For your question about the speaking exam - like mentioned in my post above, I often had to ask someone to do something or answer someone's question or give my opinion and explain why. For example, I had to say something as a conductor to a boy who plays very loud music in the train (and other passengers obviously don't appreciate the noise), give my advice to a customer at a travel agency, or tell which days I'd prefer for my course and why or which school I'd choose for my kid and why after checking out some graphics, etc. Unfortunately I can't remember any further now but it was basically very similar to the voorbeeldexamens (all kinds of everyday situations), except that I could usually answer in the present tense.

I hope this was good enough for your questions!

JD
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Re: My experience and tips - Staatsexamen NT2 programma I

Postby Bert » February 11th, 2012, 6:40 pm

Thank you for your answer and congratulations on passing your Dutch test!
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Re: My experience and tips - Staatsexamen NT2 programma I

Postby JDjazz » February 11th, 2012, 10:55 pm

You are welcome and thank you! :)
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Re: My experience and tips - Staatsexamen NT2 programma I

Postby Shazzy » February 23rd, 2012, 6:03 pm

Hello my name is Sharon
I live in the UK but I am studying Dutch. At the moment I am studying for my Dutch GCSE exam this summer (May). My mother was Dutch but never broought us up speaking it. I decided 3 years ago I wanted to learn the language properly so I have been studying with the Dutch Language School in Oxford. Excellent courses. I have recently been having speaking lessons over Skype with a Dutch teacher in Groningen which is really helping my speaking. When I finish my GCSE I need another course and have found that the LOL in Leiden do NT2 correspondence courses which I would like to do. I need to find out the level of the Level 1 course its sounds a bit higher thabn GCSE whicy would be ideal for me but the LOL cannot give me past exam papers. Do I take it from your write up that the link you gave will take me to a site whereby I can download them for free or is payment required? The next level I can take here is ALevel and my teacher said I am not ready for that yet as its too advanced. I was thinking perhaps first I could do the NT2 courses then come back to ALevel. Do you have to take all the exams at the same time or can you just do one exam at a time if need be? I know I will have to come to holland to sit the exams but that is no problem. I was thinking complete the course first whic I understand is 11 months according to lol and then study and sit for the exams. What would your advice be. I have family and friend in Holland so it would be great to be able to have a good speaking knowledge of Dutch by the time I visit them all next year.
I look forward to your reply or anyone else who can give me advice and I will be calling in on this forum on a regular basis.
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Re: My experience and tips - Staatsexamen NT2 programma I

Postby JDjazz » March 23rd, 2012, 6:16 pm

Hello Sharon,

I am sorry for my late response, I only just saw your questions!

Do I take it from your write up that the link you gave will take me to a site whereby I can download them for free or is payment required?

You can download those example exams right away from the website FOR FREE, although you have to pay if you want the newer ones from 2009.
The next level I can take here is ALevel and my teacher said I am not ready for that yet as its too advanced. I was thinking perhaps first I could do the NT2 courses then come back to ALevel. Do you have to take all the exams at the same time or can you just do one exam at a time if need be? I know I will have to come to holland to sit the exams but that is no problem.

As far as I know, you cannot take all the exams within one day, you will probably take 1 or 2 exams per day, like 1 or 2 exams on one day and the other exams on some other day(s). For example, you can first do 2 exams and the other 2 the next day or the next week. Basically you can spread your dates differently depending on the availability. I don't know much about "A-Level", but it sounds like it requires excellent skills of Dutch and in that case, my advice would be that you first go for the NT2 indeed, I think that will be sufficient for communication in Dutch when you visit Holland.

Hope it helps and good luck!!!

JD
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Re: My experience and tips - Staatsexamen NT2 programma I

Postby makhi » August 3rd, 2013, 4:56 pm

My name is Makhi and I am new to this board this is my first post to this board and I want to make some interesting discussions for this . I hope that it would be really good for me to be on this board and I can enhance my knowledge. Thank you and regards.
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