The authors of the Routledge Intensive Dutch Course advise that it is "designed to be used as a classroom context." At a first glance, it does indeed seem to be a fairly comprehensive introduction to the Dutch language. It is, apparently, on a par with level of B2 of the Common European Framework for Languages. I assume that, when used in a classroom context, level B2 can be achieved within the recommended total 320 hours of study. As a classroom instruction manual, it rates FOUR STARS (****).
HOWEVER, the authors also advise that the "key and the explanations on grammar do make it POSSIBLE for SELF-STUDY, even though occasional assistance from a teacher is advisable." I STRONGLY DISAGREE. This is DEFINITELY NOT a self-study course! Even if used with the two CD's, which are sold separately, I believe that the dialogues are MUCH too challenging for the absolute beginner. Furthermore, the explanations of Dutch grammar are unnecessarily skeletal and even obtuse! As a self-study course, Routledge Intensive Dutch merits TWO STARS (**)... at best.
My recommended course of SELF-STUDY for learning Dutch would be as follows:
Step 1: Start with the PIMSLEUR DUTCH COMPREHENSIVE course. It is excellent for getting a feel for the target language and is great for building confidence. However, since it is an all audio course, and contains no meaningful written material, you will need a DICTIONARY and book of Dutch VERBS if you want to create your own written notes, which you should, indeed, do. Note that, although there are 16 CDs with this course, there is actually not very much vocabulary. However, you will have a solid grasp of the basics.
Step 2: Continue with LIVING LANGUAGE'S SPOKEN WORLD DUTCH. This is a truly excellent course that takes a traditional grammar-based approach. It is accompanied by 6 CDs. If you work hard, you'll have a thorough knowledge of how the language is structured and you will have acquired sufficient vocabulary to deal with most situations that a traveller to the Netherlands would face.
Step 3: If you want to expand your vocabulary, you might consider the LINGUAPHONE COMPLETE DUTCH COURSE (BEGINNER - INTERMEDIATE). Although the teaching method can seem a little quirky at times, the dialogues, exercises, and the 8 CDs worth of audio make it worthy of consideration.
Step 4. To push yourself to new heights, you could try the DLI (Defense Language Institute) DUTCH REFRESHER COURSE. It is an intermediate course and it is FREE as a pdf download with an accompanying set of mp3 audio files that would be the equivalent of 50 CDs or more! You can find it on the internet. Since Amazon seems to automatically delete website addresses from reviews, I have listed it as SEPARATE COMPONENTS in the hopes that you can RECOMBINE it. By the way, the source for this is the DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, JOINT LANGUAGE UNIVERSITY (JLU). Here goes:
Step 5. After you have completed steps 1 through 4, and if you can still afford it, purchase the ROUTLEDGE INTENSIVE DUTCH COURSE along with the two CDs and make your own evaluation of it as a SELF-STUDY course. You'll see what I mean!
Step 6. If you're looking to expand your vocabulary beyond all of the material listed above, you might consider working with the FREE TEXTS and AUDIO FILES that are available at the internet sites listed below. Note that these texts are drawn from literary "classics" and, in some cases, the language might seem a little stilted. However, since there isn't a great deal of material available for learning Dutch, these FREE files provide an excellent opportunity for both ear-training and vocabulary-building. Here are the NAMES of the sites:
PROJECT GUTENBERG Contains the text of numerous literary classics as downloadable files.
BOOKS SHOULD BE FREE Contains the text of numerous literary classics as downloadable E-files and mp3 files.
LIBRIVOX Contains the AUDIO of numerous literary classics as downloadable mp3 files.
You might have to work with two of, or with all three of, the sites in order to collect the texts and the audio files.
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