Clumsy sentences and shrinking vocabularies

Clumsy sentences and shrinking vocabularies

So, read! Read to brush up on your language skills

21-03-2024 · Editorial

I love books and literature, just like almost all my colleagues. We’re always swapping recommendations and borrowing books from each other. Whenever I visit someone’s home and they have a bookcase in the living room, it gets my undivided attention. Ever since my student days, I’ve realised you can tell a lot about a person from their bookshelves.

Our own bookshelves at home are overflowing; we buy books faster than we can read them. The e-reader I bought last year – perfect for holidays – has had no effect on that.


Why do people read? A recent survey published by the national newspaper de Volkskrant shed some light on this. The majority of respondents (83 per cent) said they read for relaxation, around 40 per cent read to learn more about specific topics, and a third read for enjoyable escapism or personal enrichment.

We always stress to our Dutch-speaking students the importance of reading extensively in your native language if you want to go into journalism. The main reason is to improve your native language skills, which is crucial at a time when a lot of Dutch people are pursuing degrees taught in English. We’ve noticed over the years that studying in a foreign language often causes people to struggle with their native language. Their sentences grow clumsy, their vocabularies shrink and Anglicisms run rampant. This is less of an issue for those who will end up working in English-speaking environments; they’re better off focusing on English literature. But it poses a problem for those aspiring to careers in Dutch journalism, or those who will end up working in local policy and be expected to be able to write in proper Dutch.

So, read!

So, read! Read to brush up on your language skills. And read out of curiosity, an essential quality of a journalist – curiosity about other worlds, people and perspectives. The founders of the new Montessori College in Maastricht believe that every child has an innate sense of curiosity that must be nurtured. Problem-Based Learning can help with that, but so can reading books – lots of books. That way, high school students dreaming of a career in journalism will be well equipped for what the future might hold.

Author: Riki Janssen

Photo: Shutterstock

Tags: read,reading,books,language skills,dutch

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