Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Learning a language .. because you must

When you want to go live in another country, to live there permanently, it is best to know the country, the language. When you want to emigrate to the Netherlands, it is often required that you first pass a test that shows that you have some basic ability speaking Dutch. This test is to be passed while still abroad. This test can be taken at a Dutch embassy; both for the embassy and for the people who have to take this test, it is a logistical challenge.

The test is to find if the "A1-" level of comprehension exists. People need to be able to listen to someone who speaks Dutch SLLOOWWWLY and uses a limited range of words. This list is finite. It is likely that many of these words are the same words that WiktionaryZ needs for it's OLPC project.

Many of the techniques that you would use in a school are the same as the ones needed to prepare for this exam. You need soundfiles, you may want illustrations; both pictures and clips, you want definitions in the many languages that people understand.

Given a list of words expected to be known for the "A1-" exam, it would be easy to get the communities of the would be emigrant to add translations for both the word and the definition. As there is a group of people that do not read or write for both, a soundfile needs to be produced as well.

The next thing is making this content available on the Internet and serve it as a public service. Maybe there would even be public money to make this a public service. Then again, even if there is no money available for it. It is a nice challenge and, when you can do this.. There are other countries that people emigrate to, even people from the Netherlands :)

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