Hoi Holland!, a serious game about Dutch language and culture - a quick review
Earlier this week EP-NUFFIC launched what is meant to be “your first step towards mastering the Dutch language. It shows you how much fun it can be to learn Dutch” and also helps you discover some typical aspects of culture.
This is serious business because “by playing Hoi Holland! you will learn some basics of Dutch: understanding and speaking Dutch makes everyday activities, such as grocery shopping or going to a restaurant, a little easier and more fun”. And because of its intercultural nature, it also helps you “to connect with Dutch students and make new friends!” Next to this clearly playful approach the app also provides information about looking for an internship, volunteer work or a (part-time) job. All situations where speaking Dutch proves very useful or even a requirement.
Although I don’t directly belong to the target group (i.e. internationals already here or about to come to study or work), I was, as a professional involved in intercultural matters, curious to take the journey into this survival kit for Dutch language and culture. My first impression: No gray shades but an attractive, energetic orange (of course!) color and symbolic tulips throughout the game, so never a dull moment. It offers 5 levels of language learning and cultural, behavioral information. After completing all 5 of them, you are rewarded: you can read (in Dutch of course) the success story of Xavier, who is an international student who came here 2 years ago and has now settled because he has learned the language. A clear encouraging message and a good example to follow.
Each level (Schiphol as #1) contains language situations and the cultural item ‘Typisch Nederlands’ along with the somewhat mysterious game all Dutch kids know: ‘Ik zie, ik zie wat jij niet ziet’ (I spy with my little eye). Other levels feature topics ranging from ‘In de kroeg’, ‘Boodschappen’ to the ultimate level of cultural premastery: … ‘Verjaardag’ (birthday), oh it’s so Dutch in there!
Methodologically, the game pursues the dual intercultural approach of combining external adaptation of the locals toward their international guests with internal integration of the internationals into Dutch society. A solid didactic foundation. It is fun, informative in its use and indeed reflects the uniqueness of some aspects of Dutch life, i.e. : ‘Ga toch fietsen’ (isn’t this a bit moralistic?), ‘Borrelen’, but also ‘Melk is goed voor elk’, ‘Een bloemetje voor meneer’ (the Netherlands is about the only country in the world where giving flowers to men is common), and finally the highly typical ‘Gefeliciteerd’ when guests at a birthday party congratulate one another about the birthday of their common friend.
Personally, I found navigating sometimes tricky and some instructions not entirely clear, but maybe I’m not as agile as the younger generation that clearly constitutes the intended users. Curious? Go to: www.studyinholland.nl/hoiholland and play!
Oh and by the way, rumor has it they are now preparing a less serious game as a follow-up to Hoi Holland! Its topic? Sports. Its name? Hup Holland!