Reading with or without text?

The LingQ stats suggest that i am a higher intermediate learner of Dutch but that over-estimates where I am! My listening skills are much worse than my reading ability and barely at any intermediate level. I’m here to improve them - and generally improve my Dutch. (The 90 Day challenge has been hugely motivating and quite exhausting - but I think there is now a fighting chance I’ll complete it in time).

I’ve followed the thread about how often to listen before moving on and I have a related question. Do lower intermediate learners listen with the text before they listen again without a text.

Most of the stuff I listen to is right on the edge of my ability and I can’t decide whether I should struggle a bit without a text before I move to the text where the likelihood is that with some work I will be able to understand it? I reread books in my native English, so rereading Duch texts is not a problem if I’m interested in the first place.

Any views, guys?

Oops this should be LISTENING with or without the text!!

The best way consists perhaps of 3 stages: 1. to listen without reading 2. to read and to listen to the text in order to understand better some details 3. to listen to the text again without the text.


Thanks Evgueny! My guts tell me that the approach you suggest would work for me! It’s good to have it confirmed by a professional teacher who is also signed up to the LingQ approach! Maybe just to add that the second stage may be a bit more than understanding some details… sometimes it’s to understand at all what’s going on!

For my Dutch, it was cartoons (a Spongebob Squarepants marathon) that got me over the listening hump. I knew enough intellectually to be intermediate/advanced, but I couldn’t follow a conversation. Watching the cartoon forced me to follow it, and especially the pairing of visuals with rapid-but-simple dialog. I remember, especially, a scene involving pickles (augerken) that was a bit of a revelation for me.

I’ve found the same for Polish. LearnRealPolish has some genius videos where the guy explains, with minimal text, what he’s doing like he’s talking to a child. “This is an apple (to jest jabłko). I will put the apple on the box. The apple is on the box.” The pairing of the two makes it very easy to follow, and you’re learning not based on text, but based on sound. I’m obviously following only loosely, but I can pick stuff out, and that solidifies some of my understanding of the language.

See if you can find similar videos or some children’s cartoons in Dutch. In addition to teaching you a bit of Dutch culture (They’re crazy about Alfred Jodocus Kwak and Lucky Luke, both of which I know are cartoons. There may be cartoon versions of Tin-tin, Suske and Wiske or Asterix and Obelisk, not sure), you’ll have to adapt your learning skills too. It’s okay if you can’t follow everything. Just go back to reading some more, studying some more, and then come back to a cartoon. You’ll be farther along than before, notice some words you didn’t before, and so the learning process will go.

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I’d recommend you to struggle a bit, as you said, before reading the subtitle or text.
It would be a great exercise to your brain, since you have to listen more actively. After listening a couple of times, read the text and check the words you missed.
By doing that you’ll get better at ‘guessing’ in the language and you will understand more and more eventually. :smiley:

About the difficult of the material you’re listening to, I’d say that the best material is that where you can guess a good part of it without a text, language you can understand around 70-80% at least.


Hello Diana,

I think that listening once before reading the text is a good exercise. I myself note that in that case I am not yet capable of understanding more difficult lessons. In Portuguese and Swedish I now started watching to subtitled television. I try it a bit without subtitles, but once I miss too much, I switch on the subtitles. I can however read quite well not too difficult texts in both languages, but speaking is in both languages in beginner stage, because I never practice. That doesn’t matter to me, it will come in time. Good luck with your Dutch!


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Thank you. Really useful. You’re also just the person I need to talk to! Bruce has put me on to NOS Jeugdnieuws and this is very slightly easier than the main news. I think the vocabulary is probably a little easier, but it’s still very fast for me. But are there ANY newschannels either with Dutch text or even any kind of subtitles in either Dutch or English. I’ve looked but can’t find any. At the moment, I am listening to Harry Potter as I have a Dutch text. But I’m not really sure that having an extensive "magic"vocabulary is desperately useful in everyday life in Brouwershaven! Any pointers would be really helpful (your podcasts have been wonderful; I can more or less follow you and Fasulya). I need to send you some more writing, but I’m trying to finish the 90 Day Challenge and need to spend every Dutch moment listening until I catch up with myself. Thank you for all the stuff that you’ve put on LingQ and which I’m using. Best, Diana

Thank you. Good advice

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Thanks. I’ll look to see what’s around. I hadn’t thought of cartoons - better buck my ideas up.

Hello Diana,

Give these web sites a try:
Pure listening exercises, one sentence at a time. Many languages. Over 1300 Dutch sentences alone. This site is remarkably good for such a simple design.

This site has videos of everything from Het Zandkasteel for under-4-year-olds to segments from one of my favorite tv shows, Andere Tijden. (Full episodes of tv shows — many with subtitles — can be found on Uitzending Gemist .) Videos are divided into 6 developmental age categories from 0-4 up to 16-18-year-olds. Subject categories come under the heading Categorieën. Not every video has a text, but many do. Look for “Letterlijke tekst” found in the sidebar under “Bij deze video.” The not-always-perfect texts open out into a separate .pdf document.

Here is a video under 3 minutes long, recommended for Middle School age children:
(There’s an editing glitch at the beginning of this video)

And here is the text:
(I had to correct some of the so-called “literal” text, which may still have a few minor errors)

Overal in ons land vind je dit soort monumenten. Het zijn oorlogsmonumenten.
Elk dorp of elke stad heeft er wel één. En elk beeld heeft z’n eigen verhaal te vertellen.
Nou, meestal zijn dit soort verhalen niet leuk. Het gaat dan om gebeurtenissen waarbij mensen om het leven zijn gekomen.
Vaak staan d’r ook namen op zo’n monument. Zoals hier. Kijk, een hele rij.
Op 4 mei komen mensen samen bij zo’n monument om de slachtoffers van de oorlog te herdenken
en leggen ze kransen en bloemen hier bij het monument. En d’r zijn ze een paar minuten stil.

Ook hier in Putten staat zo’n oorlogsmonument. Hier vond in 1944 een vreselijke gebeurtenis plaats.
Meer dan 600 mannen en jongens werden hier door de Duitse bezetters weggevoerd naar concentratiekampen.
552 mensen kwamen nooit meer thuis.
Vandaar ook dit beeld van een treurende Puttense vrouw, die huilt omdat ze haar man en zoon is verloren.
Iemand die het drama heeft meegemaakt is meneer van der Pol.
Hij was negen jaar toen het allemaal gebeurde.
En wat ik eigenlijk zou willen weten is: Waarom zijn die mannen eigenlijk opgepakt?

In de nacht van 30 september op 1 oktober in 1944 in de Tweede Wereldoorlog
had het Nederlands verzet hier een personenauto beschoten
waarin zaten twee Duitse korporaals en twee Duitse officieren,
wat inhield dat door de Duitse leiding hier in Nederland een straf opgelegd werd aan Putten.

  • Kunt u mij vertellen wat er dan die dag precies gebeurde?
    Men heeft de mannen afgevoerd naar Duitsland via het kamp Amersfoort en er zijn 110 woningen verbrand.
  • Als een soort van straf?
    Als een soort van straf.
  • Heeft u zelf ook familieleden verloren?
    Ja, ik heb mijn vader verloren.
    Die is niet teruggekeerd na der oorlog, hij is overleden in Hamburg.
  • En wanneer hoorde u dat uw vader niet meer terug zou komen?
    Dat hoorde ik, dacht ik, eind mei 1945.
  • Dus u heeft wel gewoon een bevrijdingsfeest kunnen vieren?
    Op 18 april '45 is Putten bevrijd door de Canadezen en we dachten toen:
    Nu komen de mannen thuis uit Duitsland, want de oorlog is voorbij.
  • Maar dat gebeurde niet?
    De mannen kwamen niet.
  • Vind u het zelf dan ook belangrijk dat zo’n monument hier is?
    Het monument geeft ons dus de gelegenheid te gedenken,
    omdat we dus van alle mensen die omgekomen zijn in de oorlog, hebben wij geen tastbare herinnering om naar toe te gaan.*
    Wij hebben geen kerkhof voor al die mensen.

*here is an example of a “spreekfout.” The “letterlijke tekst” actually corrects his grammar to say: Het monument geeft ons dus de gelegenheid te gedenken, omdat we dus van alle mensen die omgekomen zijn in de oorlog geen tastbare herinnering hebben om naar toe te gaan.

Another priceless web site is .
Here you can enter just about any word or phrase that you wish, and it will search tv shows (all of which can be found on Uitzending Gemist) in which the subtitles contain that word or phrase. This way you can watch and listen to video examples of how an expression is used. What an amazing resource!

For example, say you want to search the expression: het de kop indrukken
You might type in the search box: “de kop in drukken”

This returns 20 pages of results. As you search through them, you can find lots of examples.
Here is one from page 12 for the 19 Aug 2014 showing of Nieuwsuur:

De autoriteiten krijgen het maar niet voor elkaar om het geweld de kop in te drukken.
(The authorities have not managed to curb the violence.)



Bruce, you are such a star! This is just wonderful. I’m looking forward to working my way through your suggestions. Thank you so much. I’ll keep you posted about how I get on - though I’m on the final leg of the 90 Day challenge so am concentrating on talking books that I can listen to in the car. But as soon as I’ve done my final 8 hours, I’ll be exploring all these options! Bedankt zoals altijd.

I like to listen without reading 1-2 times before going through the text (German in my case). I guess it makes me ‘hungrier’ as Steve says, when it comes to working through the text. But also I get the feeling that if the brain is like a muscle, it will develop more connections when made to work harder. For me, a big challenge of listening versus reading, apart from speed, is the lack of context. If you read first then the listening process becomes more about confirming that you can hear what you already know is there. Whenever I’m not sure if what I’m doing is the most useful, I tend to always fall back on ‘imagine you are in the country having to immerse and get by in the language’. People would generally not be slowing down, and you would be bombarded by audio with no transcript. I figure the brain when forced to, will just learn to make connections within the context you expose it to - at least I hope!


Thanks, Debbie. I completely follow your line of thinking… and what is interesting all the posts above say somewhat similar things in different ways. And as my Dutch slowly, slowly improves, it’s easier to take this advice when I can begin to understand at least some of what I am hearing. And that wasn’t really the case six months ago.

My routine is to have a couple of texts on the go, 2-4. I listen to them on repeat on the way to and from work. In my lunch break I read the texts, reviewing and words that I don’t know. After I’ve been re-reading and re-listening to a text for 3 or 4 days, I’ll swap it out for a new one. The brain somehow connects the reading and the listening, I don’t need to do both at the same time. Anyhow, my advice is do your listening in your “dead” time, and your reading when you can sit down and concentrate i.e. fit it all around you daily routine. Repeatedly read and listen and your brain will slowly put it together. HTH.

Good advice. Thank you