Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Learning Dutch - a Tip or Two

Gerrie Soede of Poldertaal
For my last Expats@Home newsletter I interviewed Gerrie Soede, a Dutch language tutor in The Hague, to get her viewpoint on the best way to learn a foreign language and of course she gave me some tips for those learning Dutch in particular.

The good news is that, given the right circumstances (and a bit of talent), you could be fluent in Dutch in three years. The bad news is that for some people fluency is something that will never be achieved. However, don't let that be a deterrent if you don't have a natural flair for languages. Gerrie says,

"Don’t give up trying and remember that communication is always more important than perfection. Learning the local language is important to feel at home and expand opportunities."

I asked her what the most difficult thing about learning Dutch is. Here's her response,

"That depends on your level. At each higher level you’ll meet other difficult things. The articles and verbs at level A1; structure of the sentences at level A2 and B1, combination of words later on."

In terms of good resources to learn Dutch? Gerrie is clear that you each student should have an idea about their own learning preferences and what works for them. She explains,

"You need to choose resources that meet your learning style and your goals. And that’s different for any individual. However, I like Code and De Delftse Methode for the first levels of learning Dutch."

To round up, here are some tips from Gerrie to help those of us in a constant state of Dutch language learning:
  • Invest not only in reading but pay attention to listening 
  • Dare to make mistakes 
  • Invest in learning words and do not think that grammar is the most important
  • Stop the locals talking English to you by telling them you don’t speak English..... no, seriously -  explain you want to practice
  • Stop translating as fast as possible
  • Meet native speakers as soon as possible
Most of all, Gerrie explains that it is vital to consider the fact that you are communicating as more important that getting it right all the time. Accept that you’re probably not perfect and you'll feel much more relaxed about learning Dutch.

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