7 Silly Things That Slow Down Your Dutch Learning
Any Dutch learner will tell you that it often takes a long time to start seeing results. Have you ever wondered why that is? Chances are that you’ve been doing some things that are slowing you down. Here are 7 silly things that slow down your Dutch learning, and how to change them.
- You assume that Dutch is a difficult language and that you can never learn it fast
Dutch people love telling foreigners that Dutch is really one of the hardest languages to learn. But have you also noticed that often Dutch people are laughing if they share this horrendous news?
It seems that Dutch people like the idea that their language is so special that only a privileged few can speak it. But, if you look at science, then all the evidence is against them. Dutch is the closest language to English and, in many ways, you could consider it as a lighter version of German. German has the reputation that it’s a very logical language with strict rules. Well, guess what? Dutch has the same logical system, but it’s far less complex than German!
In order to convince you, Dutch people may tell you that there are two different words for ‘the’ which are ‘de’ and ‘het’. They’ll tell you that knowing the difference is one of the things that makes Dutch very difficult, as there’s no specific rule for this. But, if you compare Dutch to German, then all of a sudden Dutch seems to be much easier. Yes, Dutch has de and het, but in German you can choose between 6 different versions: der, die, das, dem, den and des. Can you see that this example immediately puts things in a whole different perspective?
The problem is this: If you expect that learning Dutch will be difficult, then you will probably find the evidence within a couple of seconds. Luckily there are many ways that can help you to speak more Dutch with ease and learn faster. But, you must be willing to play with the idea that maybe Dutch is less complicated than other people (including teachers) like to suggest.
- Learning is always slow when you are not mentally alert
When would be the best time to learn a new language? Taking classes often seems to be a great option, the only problem is that after work you’re most likely tired. When you’re tired, it’s far more difficult to understand and learn new concepts and that’s why immediately you’ll start to believe that Dutch is difficult. But, if you’re mentally tired, than anything new will be tiring and difficult. That’s why choosing the right moment to learn, when you’re mentally alert, is an important factor.
One thing that always seems to stand in people’s way is a lack of time. So here is a logical conclusion: if you have limited time, then it’s important to learn fast, right? The sad paradox is that if you try to learn when you’re tired, then learning will be a lot slower and take more time. So what seemed to be a good idea at first turns out to be one of the most inefficient options ever. Therefore it’s wiser to forget about learning Dutch after work. Just take off a couple of days in a row and you’ll notice the difference. Sure, you may believe that you can’t take off from work, but in the end, it’s the biggest timesaver.
Here’s another important thing: learning is always slow when you’re mentally bored. If you feel that you dread going to your Dutch class, then this is an important warning signal that you’re not on the right track. Make sure that you find a Dutch class that you’re looking forward to and that makes you laugh many times. You’ll feel a lot better and it will be a lot easier to learn faster!
- You’re learning Dutch without really knowing how it could change your life for the better
When most people start to learn a new language, they simply open a textbook and listen to what a teacher says. They hope that as long as they follow some instructions and do the homework then, all of a sudden, you can speak all the Dutch you want.
Unfortunately this isn’t how speaking Dutch works. If you want to achieve something, then you must decide beforehand that this is the thing that you like to have. Let’s say that you would like to sell your services to Dutch customers, or that you’d like to give a presentation in Dutch. If you understand how speaking Dutch could make your life in the Netherlands a lot easier, then all of a sudden it’s far easier to concentrate.
Sure, you might believe that it may take years before you can do all the things that you really want to do in Dutch. But, what if it’s only an idea? One thing is certain: if you focus on all those things that you are really excited about, then learning a new language will be a lot easier! Your brain will start to pick up new things like crazy, once it really realises why new pieces of information are important and relevant.
- You’re too focused on memorizing
Have you ever wondered what you really need to learn if you like to speak a new language? Many people believe that all you need to do is listen and repeat, but this isn’t true of course.
Here’s an important insight that can change your learning forever. There are many things that you can just pick up in everyday life – names of the months is one of them. Imagine that you see the Dutch word augustus, then how long would it take for you to learn that augustus means August?
So here’s the important secret. Instead of memorizing things, it’s far more important that you learn how to pick up new words fast and that you immediately start to use them. If you live in Holland, then many words are already around you. You just have to make sure that you learn how to recognize them and that you use these new words.
By the way, have you ever wondered where your attention is when you try and memorize stuff? Probably it’s inward, right? This also means that while you try to remember everything, you’ll miss many things in the world around you.
If you want to learn fast, it’s really important to explore the world around you and discover many things by yourself. Then, if you see certain things again and again, it’ll be easier for you to remember. Also, make sure that you really use the words a couple of times. Somehow you’ll notice that you’ll not forget them!
- Your focus is too narrow
Have you ever noticed that often teachers categorize new words by subjects? Many books will give you a cluster of words that only covers one subject and then one or two hours, you mainly talk about the same thing, such as the weather.
Although it seems efficient to learn new words subject by subject, this isn’t how the brain likes to pick up new words. Just have a look at children, if they learn the parts of your body, would they start with a picture of a body with all the words? Of course not! First they learn words like hands and mouth and only later they will also know what a stomach or a liver is. When adults learn, it’s exactly the same. There are certain words of the body that you’ll pick up first, such as hands or eyes. Later, after time, you’ll learn the other parts of the body also.
Have you ever noticed that in many language books they show you body words in the context of going to a doctor or a hospital? If you often go to a doctor or a hospital, then learning the words for your body parts is a great idea. But, how much do you really like having to visit a doctor? If this isn’t something that you like to do, then chances are that you’re not really interested in learning all of these words. But, there is a way to learn these words a lot faster. Simply think of flirting with a person that you like. Do you notice a difference already?
- You believe that all pieces of information are equally important
Most slow learners believe that all pieces of information are equally important. Luckily this isn’t the case. If you like to learn fast, then it’s a good idea to focus on these things that are really important. For example, in every language there are certain words that you use all the time and there are other words that maybe you only use once a month. It’s easy to understand that it makes more sense to focus on the words that are really frequent, right?
That’s why memorizing words isn’t such a good idea most of the time. If you find a new word, then just write it down and see what happens. If the word comes back multiple times, then you can start to use it. If you never see or hear the word, then simply ignore it. Make sure that you really use the words that you hear or read most often, because then it means that you focus on the words that really matter in a new language.
You don’t have to know 100% of a language in order to have some great conversations. Just focus on a much smaller part, like the 20% that covers 80% of the language. If you like to learn smart, then be selective and be a bit lazy.
7 You forgot about resistance
Many people aren’t aware of resistance. It simply means that if you learn something new, then in the beginning chances are that you won’t like it and that you’ll find it extremely difficult.
Resistance is a force that pushes you back. You could compare it with an airplane. An airplane can only start to fly when it has a power that’s stronger than the force that pushes back, but once it starts to fly, it can continue to fly with relative ease.
The same thing is true for your learning. In the beginning you need a lot of strength to overcome certain obstacles and that’s why overcoming resistance should be your number one priority whenever you learn something new. This is why intensity is so important.
If you focus on a new skill for a couple of days in a row, then resistance will disappear. If you try to learn it by doing it two hours per week, then chances are high that you’ll not be able to go to a whole new level.
The minds of most people don’t like new things. It wants to keep things the same. But, speaking a new language is all about chance and thinking in new ways. If you don’t give it the energy that is needed in the beginning, it’ll seem that you can’t do it. But, now that you know the resistance exists and once you know that you can overcome it.
By the way, resistance can appear in many different ways. Sometimes you feel sleepy, or you just aren’t in the mood to do certain things. Sometimes you might even notice a headache, or negative feelings about learning in the past might come up. When most people notice these ‘negative’ things, it’s a natural reaction to quit and to look for some other distractions.
Luckily there is some good news. Resistance won’t last forever, although sometimes it feels that way. Once you have overcome resistance, all of a sudden you will feel an openness and more freedom to experiment with new things. All of a sudden you don’t feel tired anymore, and you even start to enjoy new energy once you start to explore all the new things that you can do with your new skills. It’s important however, that you persist.
Here’s one official warning. Your mind can be very creative and it’s very good at convincing why it’s better to do certain things another time. When you sit in a classroom for example, your mind will tell you that it’s better for you to study all by yourself and to continue your class somewhere in the future. But, of course, once you sit at home and try to figure out things all by yourself, it’ll be easier for your mind to convince you that maybe it’s a better idea to stop. Your mind will promise you that somewhere in the future there will be a better time, but surprise surprise, this moment never comes.
Intensity is a great way to overcome resistance. If you expose yourself to something new for a couple of days in a row, then your mind will feel at ease with the new ideas and concepts. Another great tip is to work together with other people in a group, because nothing can stimulate more that working with like-minded people on the same goal.
Last but not least
Hopefully you may have discovered by now that there are many things that can have an impact on your Dutch. In a way, this is great news, because once you become aware of them, there are many things that you can do to learn much faster and speak more Dutch than you ever imagined.
If you would like to discover more, then download this FREE eBook ‘Why You Hate Learning Dutch & 7 Secrets to Change It’. If you have an open mind, you’ll find many more insights that you can directly apply and soon enough, you Dutch will be a lot better!
Albert Both (Meneer Dutch Brainwash) www.talencoach.nl