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André Kuipers’ English language report

Language Partners bestaat 45 jaar. Om dit te vieren, bespreken we elke maand de taalkennis van een bekende Nederlander. Vandaag staat de taalkennis van astronaut André Kuipers centraal.

André Kuipers

This report is based upon snippets taken at various points throughout the video clip. The initial thing that struck me upon listening to André was that he has quite a strong Dutch accent. However, as the interview progresses, the accent soon becomes insignificant and instead of thinking you are listening to a non-native speaker, you realize that you are listening to a complete expert and any imperfections in his language kind of fade into the background.

General issues and pronunciation

André has pronunciation typical to a Dutch national. For example the ‘d’ sound as opposed to ‘th’ is very apparent and an ‘s’ is frequently more of a ‘sh’ sound. On the whole there are very few grammar issues to note, his verb tenses are almost impeccable and his vocabulary is very broad, and professional. The minor errors that stood out for me were at around 18 mins 30 seconds where his subject / verb agreement went a little awry. He said ‘there is ethical committees and there is safety committees and there is a lot of good people’ where ‘are’ should have been used.

At around 31 mins 30 secs he also mentioned ‘experiments who look at things’, where ‘that’ would have been better. Another very common mistake was made towards the beginning of the interview where he said ‘I look forward to explore….’ instead of ‘I look forward to exploring’. These are very easy mistakes to make and occur in many lessons that I have taught. However, given the length of the interview, I feel like I am really searching to find fault and you really have to listen carefully to pick up on these.

Coherence of the interview

This interview is a very good example of being natural and at ease when talking about your area of expertise. André uses quite a lot of job specific terminology and pronounces these words well. His intonation is very natural sounding, has a lovely flow and the speed of delivery is very good. At no point does he hesitate before answering a question, yet his answers do not sound like they are rehearsed and so are completely off the cuff. He also constantly gesticulates with his arms, which also shows that he is at ease, at no point does he stumble over his words.

Towards the end of the interview, he makes some lovely expressions to do with science fiction and he truly makes us believe that in a few years time we all will be flying to the moon!

Conclusions and ratings

The English that André Kuipers uses is not perfect however; his passion for what he is talking about makes his accent and any errors pale into insignificance. His responses were not rehearsed or read out from a script, which made him come across as natural and believable. His accent remained almost neutral, he did not have any Americanisms creeping in, nor did his accent sway towards the normal ‘southern’ English accent that is normally apparent for Dutch natives. He just sounded very ‘at home’ with what he was talking about and this made for an enjoyable and natural sounding interview.Certificate A. Kuipers

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Jo van Aken
Jo is trainer Zakelijk Engels bij Language Partners. Ze heeft in verschillende landen in Europa gewerkt en woont sinds 2010 in Nederland, waar ze trainingen Engels en communicatievaardigheden geeft.

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