Some 5,000 people from all around the world have signed up for the University of Groningen’s online Introduction to Frisian course, which starts on 26 September. The online course, which was developed by the Department of Frisian Language and Culture at the University of Groningen, will enable people from all around the world to learn Frisian online. It can be followed on the futurelearn.com platform, free of charge.
Participants in this three-week
Massive Open Online Course
or ‘MOOC’ will learn to introduce themselves in Frisian and talk about family, friends, work and their studies. They will also learn about various aspects of life in Friesland. The course material comprises articles, quizzes, discussions and videos featuring a number of different speakers.
The Introduction to Frisian course is based on Introduction to Dutch, another very successful MOOC devised by the University of Groningen, which attracted a staggering 70,000 registrations in 2015. The content was developed by Gerbrich de Jong, project coordinator for the course and lecturer in Dutch. She is astounded by the number of people who have registered. ‘A lot of people signed up for the current Introduction to Dutch course, but we didn ’ t know whether Frisian would be as popular. The number of registrations is far higher than we’d expected.’
People of all ages from all around the world have signed up; from Colombia to China, and from Sweden to Nigeria. De Jong: ‘Some of them simply enjoy learning languages and want to add Frisian to their list, some are retired and see learning as a hobby and then there’s a group that specifically wants to learn Frisian. The largest group comes from the United Kingdom, possibly because Futurelearn, the platform that provides the course, is British. On the other hand, they might also be curious about Frisian because it is thought to be the language that most closely resembles English.’ A lot of interest has also been shown in the USA and Canada, possibly because a lot of Frisian families emigrated to these countries and the language is still ‘alive’.
There have been a lot of positive reactions to the course, says De Jong. ‘People are delighted that a course in Frisian is being offered online in English. I think people are attracted to these courses because they are so accessible and you can follow them when it suits you best. What’s more, it’s a great way to ‘meet’ like-minded people from all around the world. The courses are carefully designed and very varied. You really feel that you are making progress. Everyone who takes a course like this can learn in their own way, at their own pace.’
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