Sunday 12 July 2020

Lieveheersbeestje tops ranking of most difficult words for young newcomers

Lieveheersbeestje (ladybird) is the most difficult word for children who do not speak Dutch as their mother tongue, according to a group of young newcomers questioned by the children’s charity Stichting Kinderpostzegel.

The foundation asked 200 children aged four to 13 who are attending the Internationale Taalklaas language school for new arrrivals in Haarlem what words they found most difficult.

Children at some 300 other language schools were then asked to rank the 10 words to create the final list, which, the foundation points out, is not a scientific ranking:

  1. Lieveheersbeestje (ladybird)
  2. Vogelverschrikker (scarecrow)
  3. Afstandsbediening (remote control)
  4. Perforator (perforator)
  5. Lantaarnpaal (lamp post)
  6. Schaduw (shadow)
  7. Misschien (perhaps)
  8. Vergeet-me-nietje (forget-me-not)
  9. Juf (female teacher)
  10. Gefeliciteerd (congratulations)

The publication of the list coincides with the launch of a new package of Dutch language teaching materials for new arrivals at Dutch primary schools.

The new method ‘is linked with the experiences of today’s children,’ said foundation spokeswoman Simone Bommeljé. ‘It involves practicing with vlogs and includes a podcast.’

Speech therapist Chantal Punt told broadcaster NOS that many of the words children find difficult include the sch and the rolling r sounds. ‘We learn language from the moment we are born,’ Punt said. ‘And we need to hear these sounds from that moment as well. Otherwise they are not in our language system.’

It is crucial to start helping children learn the language at a young age because their brains are still flexible, she said. Older children, she said, find it harder to learn Dutch without an accent because their brains are less likely to recognise the sounds.

Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl

The DutchNews.nl team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments.

DutchNews.nl has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.