Inburgeringsexam: tackling talking paper

Photo credit: Eindhoven News, C Sengupta

Today I am going to share some tips regarding the Spreken (Speaking) exam. In my last four series, I’ve talked about how to prepare for the first four articles – reading, listening, writing, and KNM. Today’s series is on the fourth article – Spreken (speaking).

Communicating in Dutch, even basic Dutch, can be quite intimidating for many, but the good news is that it is doable. In my classes, I often have students who start with their knowledge of the Dutch alphabet, then with their attendance and practice, they qualify for the speaking paper. However, this requires the help of trainers. And of course, lots of practice.

So how do you approach this exam? I get a lot of questions from students in the language course about how to prepare for this document, as many students find the oral document “the most difficult”.

Information about the oral exam

The level of proficiency required for the speaking test, as for all other tests, is currently A2. The oral exam is a computerized exam. The duration of this exam is 35 minutes. The exam consists of two sections. In the first division you will see videos in which the presenter asks you a question. You save your answer, save it and move on to the next one. There are between 10 and 12 questions of this type. The questions are usually based on our everyday life situations. For instance, Hoe vaak gebruikt u een computer? (How often do you use a computer?) Sometimes the questions ask you to express your opinions and the reasoning behind your opinions. For instance, Nederlandse kinderen kunnen talon graag zwemmen. What did you believe? (Dutch children like to swim. What do you think?) These questions require good practice.

In the second section you will again see videos with a short conversation, followed by multiple choice questions. From the video you have to guess the correct answer. The possible answers are given in the multiple choice, and you have to choose the most suitable answer from there. This second section also has about 12 questions. Most students find this section easier than the first.

You must attempt both parts of the exam! You must also pass in both sections!

Tips for passing this exam

Here are some tips for approaching this paper.

Inburgering: tackling KNM paper
Photo credit: Gerd Altmann,

Short, easy and correct sentences

One of the points you need to understand is that you have a limited time to give your answers. I advise you to formulate your answers in simple, short and logical sentences. Of course, grammatical correctness is of utmost importance. But when you use concise and easy sentences, your chances of making grammar errors are greatly reduced. As I said in my previous series, I will also emphasize the habit of building your vocabulary. Learning at least 5 new words every day could give you a good start in tackling this exam!

Practice word order

Now you know that Dutch grammar is not like English grammar and word order is somewhat different from English. Right from the start, when you start taking Dutch lessons, make sure you learn how Dutch sentence construction works. One tip I can give at this point is to focus on verb positioning. Dutch verbs, both regular and irregular, have different ways of conjugating. Also, their positioning changes if you write complex sentences, using the main sentence and a clause. These areas are undoubtedly areas of concern.

Photo credit: ON POINT, C. Sengupta

Only the present?

Most of the answers to the first question would require you to answer in the present tense. But please do NOT forget to practice the perfectum. (Ik heb vandaag pasta gekookt!) And if I were you, I wouldn’t forget the past either. There are specific questions that cannot be answered without knowing the past. Please also focus on the questions. Parts of your answers are in the questions.

Examination in reality

In the exam hall, you would be seated with several other candidates taking the exam. You would wear a headset and a microphone would be connected to your PC. Some students find this rather disturbing while others start talking into headphones to record their responses. Please don’t get distracted and start giving your own answers clearly. Focus on what you want to say and don’t forget to save. You can always erase and re-record your answers, but watch the time!

Finally, listen carefully to the questions, first frame the answer in your mind, when you are ready, record it. Success with the feet!

An article by Chaitali Sengupta. She is the founder of the language institute ON-POINT COMMUNICATIONS and gives Inburgering courses online.


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