It’s true what they say. Language learning should be fun. The best way to stay motivated is to make sure you are smiling and even laughing through the process. For those new (or even old) to the Netherlands, dedicating ourselves to learning Dutch can often take the backburner. You may live here five years before you even make it past hoe gaat het met jouw? Jou (jouw means your)
Native Dutch speaker and language coach Albert Both saw this pattern develop with the expats in his life. Both believe that most people settle into a rut with language learning because of a common misconception. Speaking a new language isn’t about acquiring one new skill. It’s a combination of many. You must be logical and creative.
The safest space to practice your new language is around people who make you comfortable. The ones you know will always love you anyway, no matter how silly you are about to sound. Your friends and family! Below are some of Albert Both’s favorite Dutch phrases you can use to tease your loved ones. Don’t feel guilty when you are teasing your friends. Sarcasm and cheekiness are a big part of this language. So long as you are using the right tone of voice and facial expression, you can rest assured that you are partaking in a harmless, even foundational aspect of the language.
Just brace yourself because your friends will probably have to tease you back. Meaning you might be speaking Dutch sooner than you think…
Words and Phrases
Jij bent lekker!
Literal translation: You are tasty!
Anyone who has made it outside of Schiphol has heard the word lekker. Though this word technically means delicious, lekker is tasty, heerlijk is delicious. It comes from heer which can mean gentleman or lord and even God…. With some imagination, heerlijk is like Lordlike Dutch people have stretched its usage far and wide. You will get laughed at if you use it in every situation, so there is a good rule to follow. If you describe the taste or feel of something as lekker, even if you’re being cheeky, it will make sense. So, the apple could be lekker as well as the massage.
As you can imagine, this word can be used romantically, but it can also be used sarcastically! If you say this phrase with the right undertone, it’s the same as calling someone crazy or insane. The same is true with including lekker in your responses. If someone says they dropped their phone in the toilet, you can reply lekker dan! This, of course, does not mean that you think the situation is tasty. Instead, you are making light of a mistake.
Literal translation: Bitch or bastard
This is a very old word. The original meaning was meant to describe a rotting carcass but has evolved. Most people aren’t even aware of the old usage. Today, it is completely normal to use this word among friends. Wat ben jij een kreng is a perfectly normal thing to say to a loved one. This literally translates to you are such a bastard! With the right inflection, this phrase is considered an honest term of endearment.
Hoe gaat het met jouw seksleven?
Literal translation: How is your sex life?
The first thing most people learn when speaking a new language is to ask how someone is doing. Dutch people will expect you to ask hoe gaat het met jouw jou? When they respond mechanically, you can grab their attention again by following up with en hoe gaat het met jouw seksleven? When you deliver this line, do so confidently and with your best accent. This is sure to surprise your friends and give them a good laugh. Make sure that you do it like this…. Hoe gaat het met jou sexleven? And then…. remain silent, at least for a couple of seconds… When the silence is too painful, and when people get nervous, you can always shout grapje, which means little joke…. Just kidding and then start laughing 😉
If you really want to get on people’s nerves, you can learn a few frequent Dutch mistakes people make and correct them. These would be similar in English when someone says my sister and me went to the concert and they are corrected with my sister and I. In Dutch, if someone says ik ben beter als jouw jou (I’m better than you), you can correct them with dan jouw dan jij. The same rule applies for als mij, which should be dan ik. Sure, it is highly pedantic, and it can be fun 😉
If you have mastered these phrases, there are plenty of free e-books at your disposal to help you keep the ball rolling. Why You Hate Learning Dutch and 7 Secrets To Change It debunks any reasons you may have heard why Dutch is a challenging language. It also provides some tricks to start. A second free e-book is Don’t Worry Speak Dutch. This book dives further and highlights three unsuccessful ways of learning a language to steer clear of. These are followed by a fourth method that has led to some pretty spectacular results.
When you are ready to go one step further, check out the Dutch Brainwash. This masterclass is a tried-and-true program that has the power to revolutionize your Dutch. Aside from tripling your vocabulary in minutes, the Dutch Brainwash has some unique claims to fame. This course is designed to be tailored to the individual desires of its students. Meaning you won’t be learning tired phrases from your textbook written in 2003 about where to buy a CD-ROM. The seven-day intensive course allows you to create your own sentences about anything you please.
All these resources will have you out there teasing your friends in no time. Soon enough, you will have original jokes to volley back and forth with your loved ones. Proving that language learning is fun after all.