Share article:
Share article:

Language website sees boom in visitors during lockdown

© Pixabay

A website developed by the university of Leuven aimed at helping foreigners learn Dutch has seen a boom in users during the lockdown, KU Leuven said.

NedBox was developed five years ago by KU Leuven, together with partners including the public broadcaster VRT, the Flemish-Dutch language union Taalunie and the university of Antwerp.

The site now has a huge range of video clips and other lesson material to allow foreigners new to Belgium to keep in contact with the Dutch language, either by itself or in conjunction with more formal language lessons.

The subjects are anything buy dry and academic, and include how many kisses are polite, Sinterklaas and the new government, all the way to the TV show The Masked Singer and how to plant a Christmas tree.

In its five-year lifetime, NedBox has attracted 800,000 learners, but the first lockdown in Belgium in March saw a spike in numbers – an influx of visitors 52% higher than normal. An effect, perhaps, of the predominance of Dutch speakers dealing with the crisis on TV (Steven Van Gucht, Marc Van Ranst, Erika Vlieghe, Maggie De Block) but also, doubtless, the fact that people had so much more time on their hands.

With more than 800,000 users, NedBox has exceeded our wildest expectations,” said Helena Van Nuffel of KU Leuven’s Centre for Language and Education. “It also clearly illustrates the need for such a platform for learning our language.”

That’s backed up by Tegoeh Tjahjowidodo, a student from Indonesia who practices his Dutch with NedBox.

It is difficult to speak Dutch outside the classroom. People quickly switch to French or English or they speak dialect. By practising with NedBox I learn new words and I understand Flemish people better. I also learn a lot about life in Flanders. NedBox helps me to stay motivated and to keep improving my Dutch.”

NedBox now has more than 500 exercises, involving video clips from the VRT and newspaper articles from Het Laatste Nieuws. The site is free to use and requires no registration.

To give newcomers and non-native speakers every opportunity in Flanders, it is important that they learn our language, in the classroom with teachers, in daily life with friends, but also digitally with initiatives such as NedBox,” said Flemish minister for social affairs, Bart Somers (Open VLD).

Since its launch, the Flemish government has invested €217,000 annually in this initiative. We are now allocating additional resources. With 800,000 non-native speakers already logged in, NedBox is a real success story.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Brussels Airport warns autumn holidaymakers to arrive early
Passengers leaving from Brussels Airport this autumn have been advised to factor in extra time to account for longer than normal check-in times and ...
27,000 Belgian taxpayers to pay more after incorrect tax break
About 27,000 taxpayers who wrongly received a tax reduction in the last three years due to an error by the tax administration will have to pay what ...
Wallonia launches first major survey for cyclist satisfaction
Following in the footsteps of France and Flanders, the Wallonia Region of Belgium is launching its first major satisfaction survey on municipal ...
After 5 rescues in 2 days, hundreds of migrants take shelter in Italy
After five rescues in less than two days, almost 400 migrants aboard the Geo Barents search and rescue ship in the Central Mediterranean, operated by ...
Belgian wind farm closed down to save migrants floating in sea
A wind farm near Zeebrugge had to be shut down on Wednesday morning as more than 25 migrants had been adrift in its vicinity off the Belgian coast ...
Cinemas will require Covid Safe Ticket from Friday
The Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will be required to attend cinemas across Belgium from Friday, which marks the start of the autumn holidays, the ...
Strong warnings issued ahead of climate change summit
New and updated climate commitments fall far short of what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, leaving the world on track for a ...
Disastrous year for Belgian beekeepers
Belgian beekeepers have experienced a disastrous year, with honey production 50 to 60 percent lower than last year due to heavy rainfall during ...
New measures for schools considered as situation becomes ‘untenable’
Belgium's various education partners met on Wednesday to discuss additional measures to implement in schools as the coronavirus situation worsens in ...
Belgium in Brief: Back To Masks
I really hope you didn't throw out all your masks. You'll be needing them again. Now I do appreciate that this isn't a huge change for ...
Belgium a climate slowcoach as EU reveals emissions progress
The European Union is on track to pass its first big climate test, according to new figures published this week. But Belgium has been singled out for ...
Limiting private contacts ‘needed to fight autumn wave’, expert warns
The Consultative Committee announced it is introducing a handful of measures in public spaces to control the quickening spread of the coronavirus, ...