Today I participated in a Dutch language class for NT2-people about Koningsdag. Mariëlle van Rooij invited me to join the class in Amersfoort. Participants from all over the world attended the class. There were people from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Gambia and Ethiopia who are learning Dutch. The people that were attending the class are not able to write and read. The class was given by Claire and Mariëlle and today’s topic was ‘Koningsdag’. In the first part of the class I had the opportunity to introduce myself and tell something about the reason why I was attending the class. Later on the participants could ask some personal questions to get to know me a bit better with a funny ball game. After we were introduced to each other, the group continued with some personal assignments. At the same time I had the opportunity to ask some of the participants questions that are relevant for my research. In a free conversation while enjoying a cup of coffee I tried to gather information and answers on example questions like these:
- Do you have problems with reading letters?
- What is most difficult thing about these letters?
- What do you do when you receive these letters?
- Who are you asking for help?
- Would you be happy if the letters were read out for you?
- What smartphone applications are you using right now? Why? Any difficulties?
- Have you ever seen a QR-code and do you know what to with it?
After I gathered answered to these questions one of the participants showed me a letter that she could not understand. Together we made a picture of this letter and used the Google Translate App to read it out loud. By using this method she understood where the letter was about and where it was meant for. She told me that she was happy with this approach since this enabled her to understand letters. She told me that she was happy because she no longer needed to take letters to her contact person. This was a very interesting insight for my research.
When I was finished with some interviews we returned to the classroom where I attended the second half of the lesson. In this half the participants imitated a vrijmarkt and they were able to sell and buy some small things that they took from home.
At the end of the class I took a picture from the whole group in their orange clothes and with their orange attributes. I was told that this group picture would be the new image of their Whatsapp group, where all of the participants are part of. It was a great and useful experience for me and I hope to come back in the coming weeks to further discover the needs of people that have difficulty in understanding letters.