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Erikk
16th Jan 2009, 15:14
Hi all,

Today I received the good news that I'll be able to reaply for the vacansie (student) Air Traffic Controller @ Eurocontrol. Last time I failed @ phase2 (groupdiscussion, presenting a flightplan etc.). Main reason for that in my opinion was my bad english speaking skills.

Unfortunatly I'm not in the situation to drop my stuff in the Netherlands and move to the UK for 6 months or so...
Has anyone of you been in the same situation or what should you do to improve your language skills (mainly speaking)?

I try to read a lot and try to involve myself in groupdiscussion on forums etc..

Any other tips / tricks?

Oh by the way, I have to retake the Feast test (phase 2) in december this year, so time enough to prepare myself wel.. ;-)

Captain Stable
16th Jan 2009, 15:19
Goede avond!

Don't bother with the reading, website forums, etc.

Go out looking for a way to spend your time SPEAKING English, preferably with Brits. Get over here for a couple of weeks at a time, or for a weekend a few times between now and then. Drop whatever you can. How much do you want the job?

Tyres O'Flaherty
16th Jan 2009, 15:37
Although it's not cheap ( unless you get the softwear ''otherwise'' ;) ), the Rosetta Stone p.c. based system I found pretty good for language learning

Good luck

sitigeltfel
16th Jan 2009, 15:42
I was told the best way to improve my French language was to take a French lover.

For some strange reason my wife thought otherwise :=

Standard Noise
16th Jan 2009, 15:55
Do french letters improve your language skills then?:}

BOFH
16th Jan 2009, 15:58
It is uncommon to hear that someone from the Netherlands is having trouble with his English. However, you do have the advantage that it will be easier for you than from someone much further East.

As the good Captain has stated, you can (and should) read it and write it until your eyes bleed, but nothing will substitute for interaction with native speakers. Ideally, you'll organise things so that if you trip up, you'll be corrected.

I'd think that some sort of mutually beneficial arrangement might be forged with an English speaker near to you who would like to learn Dutch. Meet up in a pub twice a week, bring a Dutch newspaper and he can bring an English newspaper. Swap them and read what you can. Summarise the stories to your counterpart. Enhance your vocabulary - use long words which are still foreign to you. Buy another beer, then let him do the same. If you can find a her, so much the better!

Good luck
BOFH

SpringHeeledJack
16th Jan 2009, 16:23
Sleep with a dictionary :E That is to say get an english speaking girl/boyfriend.

I found that some of the best english speakers (non-uk) were Dutch people, so maybe it's possible to have an english discussion to a high level 'at home'.

Or make contact with an english teacher where you live, there is a high degree of certainty that there will be a native speaking teacher near where you live.

Failing that, i would echo what another poster said about coming over to the UK for a weekend or week, perhaps even for an intensive course ???


Best of luck


SHJ

rotornut
16th Jan 2009, 16:30
Watch or listen to the BBC - seriously.

old,not bold
16th Jan 2009, 17:33
mutually beneficial arrangement might be forged with an English speaker

There are so many ways of saying in English "go and sleep with an English girl"; good advice offered by several already.

What a rich and diverse language, to be sure.



Sorry! Assumption alert! For "girl" read "partner".

BombayDuck
16th Jan 2009, 18:00
And read a good English newspaper - I am not sure which one to suggest, but I'd advise you to avoid a few of the tabloids...

Dr747
16th Jan 2009, 18:20
I was told the best way to improve my French language was to take a French lover.

Nice advice...lets see what does my wife think of the idea:E if she agrees then BONJOUR...

castizo
16th Jan 2009, 18:38
Try chatting on internet in English, may be with Skype (search for people with "skype me").

win wine
16th Jan 2009, 18:44
yeah... this is what i agreed. get a english speaking gf/ bf.
practise makes perfect.
good luck!

Romeo India Xray
16th Jan 2009, 18:52
Firstly, to put this in context, I am an ICAO English level examiner (please put any mistakes in my writing here down to being into my second bottle of wine tonight - or the ICAO requirement to only speak and listen, as you see fit).

Unfortunatly I'm not in the situation to drop my stuff in the Netherlands and move to the UK for 6 months or so...
Has anyone of you been in the same situation or what should you do to improve your language skills (mainly speaking)?


My father was an English teacher - on his first visit to Riga he spent about an hour in conversation with a Kazak friend of mine, a man who had never been to an Enlgish speaking country. After about an hour my father asked my friend which part of the USA he was from as he could not exactly place his accent. You do NOT need to go live in England or the USA to get good enough to fool a native!

I try to read a lot and try to involve myself in groupdiscussion on forums etc..

Can be great for interactive written dialogue, but almost useless for interactive speaking and listening exercises.

Go out looking for a way to spend your time SPEAKING English, preferably with Brits.

Capt, Nail, head and hit - My Kazak friend spent all his spare time in the local Irish bar, speaking to and interacting with Brits and guys from N America. When he wasn't doing this he was at home watching American movies or Discovery.

I was told the best way to improve my French language was to take a French lover.


Sitigeltfel, have you seen the British girls these days???:ugh: It just so happens that Mrs RIX is Latvian, but she has done very little to improve my Latvian abilities - in a partnership (of any kind) you will find that the one with the stronger language abilities will adopt the natural lead. Although Mrs RIX and I use Latvian from time to time, it is mostly only when we can't think of the English to use in a particular circumstance because her English has always been at a more advanced level than my Latvian. Now, I would be happy to not have to use English in most circumstances, but we have a habbit that just won't die.

It is uncommon to hear that someone from the Netherlands is having trouble with his English.

True - And strangely I find that I can also comprehend some Dutch although I have not had a single Dutch lesson in my life and do not know a single word. The intonation and common vocab between Dutch, German and English seems to be enough to get something of a grasp.

I'd think that some sort of mutually beneficial arrangement might be forged with an English speaker near to you who would like to learn Dutch.

See comments re Mrs RIX.

Failing that, i would echo what another poster said about coming over to the UK for a weekend or week, perhaps even for an intensive course ???

It really is the best way, but I would try for a minimum of a week or two at a stretch and spend that time surrounded by as many English people as you can, who you are forced to interact with. How about joining an English flying/gliding club - spend a few weeks with these people and you will be talking like you never believed you could (especially after a few beers in the bar after a day of GA flying). This could also foster a greater interest in the life of the GA pilot and give you a good insight into another sector of the flying world.

Any specific advice you want then send me a PM.

RIX

barit1
16th Jan 2009, 20:42
There are so many ways of saying in English "go and sleep with an English girl"; good advice offered by several already.

Gerhard Neumann, a German Jew who escaped the Third Reich, worked as a technician for the Flying Tigers, and drove GE to a place of prominence in jet engines, is reputed to have said the same thing regarding any new language. :)

sisemen
17th Jan 2009, 00:55
Now this gives me the idea for a new business.

Sisemen's Sexy Syntax language school for improving your language skills.

All I need are a few randy lady ppruners who would like to earn a bit on the side, have a fun loving nature and sense of adventure......:E

Erikk
17th Jan 2009, 07:56
Thank for all the replies and tips!

I'll certainly try Rosetta Stone but like you al say it al comes down to "doing it'". :) I think I'm going to save some money to spend some weeks in the UK this summer. :cool:

Captain Stable
17th Jan 2009, 09:32
Aha sisemen - learning a foreign tongue... :ok:

I like it!

B Fraser
17th Jan 2009, 10:51
Watch or listen to the BBC - seriously

Your best bet is to listen to BBC Radio 4 and on no account whatsoever, watch Eastenders.

I have a smattering of Dutch and every time I try to use it, The Cloggies smile politely and insist we use English. Apparently, I make the language sound like a throat infection with added verbs. There are lots of Brits in The Netherlands so make a few friends.

I have fond memories of my schooldays where French Oral was the highlight of the week. The lessons weren't bad either :ok:

brockenspectre
17th Jan 2009, 11:37
Erikk - it sounds like you probably already have an excellent basis for speaking English, all you need is the confidence to "take the plunge" and start actually talking to people. First off, make the most of any opportunity that comes your way to speak.. even if its only an "excuse me" or some short phrase if you encounter any Brits in your day to day life. There is probably an Irish pub somewhere near you or an English pub or restaurant... why not go there one lunchtime and just have a drink (non-alcoholic if that is your preference) and chat to the landlord/barmaid - again its all about using current language and becoming familiar wtih the sound of the language. Watch English language shows on television and ALWAYS have a dictionary beside you... go to a good book shop and find a book of colloquial expressions (I just used "take the plunge" in the first sentence)... and have that with you. Buy an English language aviation magazine (or other topic that interests you) and keep it somewhere you will be bound to read it.

Another thing I have found good when attempting to learn other languages is a voice recorder. Practise reading out loud, or just speaking into a recorder so you can hear how you sound when you play it back! People really need to understand what you are saying - if someone has a very heavy accent (not saying you have of course!) you can know in your heart you just said something correctly but if folks look at you as if you hadn't it can be quite disheartening! A lot of understanding is in the accent. Don't however go all out to eliminate your own tone quality or totally eliminate your accent... I am not alone in finding it very charming when people from other countries retain an accent... :)

Also.. do you have any friends/colleagues who are also wanting to improve English? You could have an English-only session... have friends round and only speak English. Why not watch English language TV - comedy or a sports event works well, it doesn't have to be a serious programme - and then ONLY IN ENGLISH all discuss what you liked/disliked about the show!

There are many on here who speak fabulous English as a second language (or in many cases their fourth or fifth language!) so hopefully you will get an abundance of advice on what worked for them :)

Juud
17th Jan 2009, 15:11
Hello Erikk, there is a lot of good advice on this thread already, nice people willing to help you. :)
To get promoted at work, I had to pass oral exams (modelinge examens) for 4 different languages via this (http://www.associatie.nl/upload/2006_08_Spkvh%20INFOBLAD%20ASSOCIATIE.pdf) outfit. On page 3 you can see the 'exameneisen'; we had to take niveau 3. This info so you know where the advice is coming from.
I used a number of different strategies to prepare myself.
Here's what I would advise you to do:


Set aside 30 to 45 mins study time 5 days a week and let nothing interfere with that. Nothing!
Make sure you have a good dictionary and a notebook.
Buy a quality news paper (suggestions folks? ;) ) a few times a week. Start your study session by reading one article to yourself. Underline the words you don't know. Look them up in the dictionary, write down their meaning in your notebook (schrift). Then read the article out loud to yourself (hardop voorlezen) Read slowly, listen to yourself and carefully pronounce every word. Then read it out loud once more, but now at normal speed. Doing this every day will make your mouth get used to English.
Buy a grammar & exercise book. (for example: link (http://www.bol.com/nl/p/boeken/grammatica-in-gebruik-engels-leer-en-oefenboek/1001004005256585/index.html) link (http://www.bol.com/nl/p/boeken/eindelijk-engels-druk-1/1001004001813195/index.html) link (http://www.bol.com/nl/p/boeken/eindelijk-engels-oefenboek-druk-1/1001004002132936/index.html)). Every study session you read (part of) a chapter in the book, and then you do the exercises that go with that chapter. Do them in writing. Exercises are boring, but they are the only way to groove your brain. A grooved brain means that when you actually have to speak the language, you will not have to stop and think about how to say something. Instead, your brain will automatically do the grammar correctly so you can concentrate on the meaning of what you are saying. Very important in your case.
Listen to BBC radio every day for at least 15 minutes. For example in bed, when there no other distractions (stop giggling at the back there). Here's a link (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/), click on 'listen live' at the right top of the page. Sometimes you just listen, like when you're tired, sometimes you try to imitate how the person on the radio speaks.
To Dutch ears, a Dutchman speaking proper English will sound exaggerated. (aanstellerig) Don't think about that, because you will not be speaking to other Dutch people, you will be speaking to English people. Speak 'overdreven' and you will sound MUCH better. Pay particular attention to how 'real' English speakers pronounce the 'v', the 's' and the 'th'.
They are difficult for us Cloggies, and making an effort to pronounce them correctly will make your English much easier on the ear of native speakers.
If you can afford it, find a teacher for 'conversatie lessen' once a week. He or she will correct both your grammar and pronunciation, and will tell you what to practice.
Do as suggested already and start going to British Pubs in Holland. Also look for other opportunities to speak English. The more you speak, the better you get.


In my experience, learning a foreign language is 10% talent and 90% methodical hard work. We never become as good as the natives (inboorlingen ;) ) and I still make many mistakes, but if you put in the time and the effort, you will get an acceptable result.

Good luck and let us know how you get on. :ok:

larssnowpharter
17th Jan 2009, 15:53
learning a foreign language is 10% talent and 90% methodical hard work.

Huge amount of good advice here especially the comprehensive reply from Juud.

I speak around 5 languages and have qualified as an interpreter and translator. I also hold a diploma from the British Institute as a teacher of English. I only say this to give you a background to the advice below.

1. Expose yourself to the language at every opportunity: BBC (good model), on line, in bed, in the pub.

2. Forget some of the crap you will see in grammar books about the 2nd subjunctive mood in English; it's so bloody complicated that no-one knows how to use it anymore.

3. Don't get too 'hung up' on placing an action in time and English verb tenses. Very complex and don't make sense: 'Tomorrow I am going to London.' Future action in the present continuous! Silly really.

To sum up; read books in English, watch the news in English, read English language newspapers and:

Never be afraid to make mistakes

Miserlou
18th Jan 2009, 10:44
Erikk.
I can't imagine that there is no english bar near you. Get down there. English bookshops are often nice places to hang out too. Anywhere where people speak the language is good practice.

BBC Radio 4 is also very good to listen to. No music, just talk.
BBC - Radio 4 - Home (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/)

The BBC website also has some good resources for learning english.

Good luck.

Storminnorm
18th Jan 2009, 11:22
The Memsahib came from Holland but spoke good English
when we met. She had worked in a Hotel as a receptionist
so that helped a lot, but when she came to the U.K. for the
first time she did have problems with some of the "slang"
words that people use. She got up to speed very quickly
though. She still thinks that she has a Dutch accent though.
Although I can't hear it at all.
I had the ideal way to try to pick up Dutch. Watch lots of
sub-titled films on TV. Good old John Wayne etc, with
Dutch sub-titles. Your problem is not helped by that system.
Come over here and just throw yourself into "conversing"
with the locals. It's the only way to pick the language up!
Good Luck!

Pontius Navigator
18th Jan 2009, 11:57
My father was an English teacher - on his first visit to Riga he spent about an hour in conversation with a Kazak friend of mine, a man who had never been to an Enlgish speaking country. After about an hour my father asked my friend which part of the USA he was from as he could not exactly place his accent.

This is a very good point. Most people speaking British English sound foreign to a British ear. On the other hand, most non-English speakers speaking American English do not sound foreign.

I am thinking of a Turk in a poor Turkish village or a Yugoslav, both of whom spoke near perfect Americanski. I knew a German woman, married to a US Airman, we only knew she was German when she told us.

One exception was a Singaporean who spoke perfect idiomatic English. He was 19 and had only learnt English 3 years previously.

So listen to Voice of America as well.

Edit to add.

I knew a Dutch airman who had an unfortunate speech mannerism. At first I thought what he said meant something else. The phrase he used was "in basic". I thought he meant "in Basic" in other words a situation or place. Later I realised be meant "basically". You must make sure that your friends know you want to be corrected for incorrect idiom.

Captain Stable
18th Jan 2009, 14:50
How many sherries before lunch, Pontius? :eek: :cool:

paulc
18th Jan 2009, 16:35
A good place for finding some brits will be on the observation deck at Schiphol - always some enthusiasts/spotters there.

Captain Stable
18th Jan 2009, 16:37
True, paulc, but you won't get a lot of meaningful conversation out of a bunch of anoraks.