Learning Dutch is easy
Marja de Reuver | 10 November 2021
When I was 19 I went on a holiday with my best friend to Provence en all the cute guys spoke only French. So from then on we did too. Even with each other.
And all that with just our school French.
We had interesting conversations about studying, music and smoking pot until early in the morning at the local student flat with a bottle of Pastis nearby. As if we'd never spoke anything else.
Not because we always had straight A's for French grammar or had memorised a dictionary.
But we had fun! We didn't want to miss anything, immerse in 'la vie Française'. 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do,' was our motto.
And in France that does not work if you do it in Dutch.
We didn't know when to use 'le' or 'la' or how to apply the 'subjonctif' correctly. But we did want to know how our new best friends thought about squatting or the latest album by The Cure.
But learning a new language is so hard
'Dutch is such a difficult language', the grammar has too many exceptions!' She rolled her eyes. And what's with the weird sounds!
Inez is from Spain. She's a student in the Netherlands and her English is excellent. So, Dutch shouldn't be too hard.
Or so you'd think.
And she does take a course and she really tries to meet Dutch people, but it remains challenging. In her course she learns a lot about Dutch grammar rules, which she finds rather complex.
And her expat friends always speak English. Some of them don't even think it is neccessary at all to learn Dutch properly. They work for multinationals and well, everybody here speaks English anyway, so why bother?
But honestly, she wants to be able to really understand her Dutch boyfriend and his family and friends. Whenever she joins him at a party with his friends she can feel a bit lost sometimes.
With Polyglots it is not all plain sailing either
Did you think that people who are fluent in several languages all have a knack for languages? Hell no! Some of them even flunked foreign languages at school.
But they all did find their own personal method to learn a new language. A style they enjoy and that suits them. This way they learn a new language in a relatively short period of time.
And so can you
You could, for example, read the Dutch translation of your favourite book. Or your favourite sitcom.
Maybe cooking is more your thing and you could analyse and try out Dutch recipes.
Or describe your day to your Dutch friend every night, or to yourself.
Yeah, you heard it right, talking to yourself.
Podcasts are also a good way to get familiar with a new language. And if the subject is interesting enough, you will start to understand it better and better.
But you'll have to make it fun
And make sure you keep at it, find a routine.
If you have a good system, it'll hardly cost you any extra time. So integrate the learning into your life and make it a habit. Listen to a podcast while doing the dishes. Watch a YouTube video every single day. Make lists with words and expressions you'll come across. Have a little chat with your colleague.
And you know what, you don't have to understand every single word. Just look for the essence and let the sounds work on you.
Have a little patience. And the first time you will get your first Dutch joke you will keep coming back for more.
Of course, you do need a basis
During that holiday when I was 19, I learned more French in three weeks than I did in all those years at school. But without those lessons at school, of course, I would never have been able to start even a simple conversation.
So you start with a course in which you will learn all the peculiarities of a language, the words, the grammar, the pronunciation, by doing. By practising with others, by reading and talking and listening. By making mistakes (and feeling safe enough to do so!). And by having more and more fun doing it. With some much-needed humour.
And then you can carry on with that at home.
In your own way.