What would be one of the most effective and fun ways to increase your Dutch instantly? One popular strategy from my students – and chances are high that you would agree – is this: it always helps when I drink some biertjes or wijntjes. When you do this, all of a sudden, Dutch words start to flow. You can have great conversations then!
So what do you think? If you look at it objectively, there is a lot of truth. Drinking alcohol can certainly help you to speak much better Dutch. First, it can bring some gezelligheid, a relaxed and cosy atmosphere. When you go to een kroeg (an important Dutch word for bruin café), it can certainly make it easier to start some conversations with random people.
What About Dutch Courage?
One of the significant advantages is that people can be far more relaxed and less serious after some drinks. So it could be a great moment to meet new people and chat with them in general.
There is only one little problem. Drinking alcohol is not always that convenient. What happens if you like to speak great Dutch early in the morning? Imagine that you go to an important meeting. Would it be a great idea to drink some alcohol then? Maybe not.
So here is the first idea to play with. Yes, it seems that somehow conversations go a lot easier, even in Dutch. But… it does not always mean that alcohol is always the best solution. If you look at it practically, you’ll quickly discover that drinking too much will also have the opposite effect. Not everyone will like it when you act plain drunk!
On top of it, there is another thing to consider… Sure, you will feel that all of a sudden, all your Dutch conversations will go a lot smoother, but is it really true? What if there is a big difference between your perception and reality?
Drinking loads of alcohol to feel more confident is an authentic Dutch thing, according to English-speaking people. They even coined a special word for it: Dutch courage. The idea is that if you drink alcohol, you’ll suddenly feel more courage. That is why the principle may seem the logical thing to apply… When in Rome, act like the Romans, right?
And yet, if you look at Dutch courage objectively, it is not always the best idea to go ahead. Yes, you might feel more courage, but… does it really mean that your Dutch is much better? On top of it, it is never a good idea to depend only on alcohol for practical and health reasons.
The fact is that quite often – contrary to what your intuition might tell you – your Dutch could even be worse. You might be making loads of mistakes and errors all the time. But with alcohol, there is one big difference: somehow, you feel better! When you relax, then yes, of course, speaking Dutch is a lot easier.
Now it is time for the next logical step – don’t worry, you do not have to give up alcohol – the logical question is this: what if you could feel more relaxed without a couple of drinks? It would certainly have a significant impact on your Dutch immediately!
Here is a strange thing… When most people learn a new language, then somehow they are too serious about it. Somehow they create too much stress around it. Is this something that you could recognize? Here are some examples of stress-creating behavior.
First of all, you may expect from yourself that when you say something in a new language, it has to be perfect! Many people, unfortunately, believe that when they say something wrong, then it automatically means that they come across as stupid and retarded. That is not such a great feeling.
So here is often the problem of most minds… somehow, they love to produce loads of self-criticism and… most minds are very creative when imagining what other people might think of you. So you may believe that people do not want to talk with you because you have an accent, for example.
Then, all of a sudden, things really start to get f^cked up. The problem with the human mind is that it likes to be right all the time. Before you know it, it will start to collect ‘objective evidence’ that somehow people find you stupid and that no one wants to talk about it. Although it is just a fabrication of your mind, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in no time. The second you feel bad and stressed, it harms your Dutch. And then you feel worse, so this vicious circle could go on for quite some while.
When most people initially learn a new language, they focus on information, words, grammar, intellectual stuff and there is one thing that most people often forget… Feeling good while speaking Dutch, certainly when you make mistakes!
Sure, information and intellectual facts can be useful, yet… feeling good while speaking Dutch also needs your attention. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand this idea. They believe they can only move forward if they learn things, but… relaxation is a great key!
Once you feel relaxed, it has a significant impact on your Dutch immediately. First, when you don’t worry about how others perceive you, you can be in the moment. If all you do is play and experiment, you’ll soon discover that you know much more than you could ever imagine and that you can get into a flow when learning new things.
Here is a weird thing. If you look for a specific word and are obsessed with it, chances are high that you cannot find it. If finding that one word has all of your compulsive attention, then somehow, conversations will never flow. But once you relax, you’ll experience that the words you need will naturally flow to you.
Others Will Change If You Do This…
Here is another thing that is important to understand. The more you can appreciate the progress that you are making and your own ability to learn new things, the easier it will be to move forward. For example, once you start believing that you can learn and speak naturally, it is easier to feel positive about yourself, and then you’ll notice that others will respond differently.
Last but not least, please remember that you will probably never ever sound like a real Dutch person, and this is totally ok… It is not your job to turn yourself into an ‘inferior’ Dutch person but to be an expanded and enriched version of yourself. Dutch people will usually love it if you share things from your background. It is something that can make all your exchanges really interesting from them.
Dutch people typically love to know more about other cultures and countries. Remember that Dutch people have always traveled all around the world. So once again, feeling relaxed about yourself and Dutch is more important than you can ever imagine. And sure, if you like, you can have een biertje or een wijntje now and then… Proost!
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. The seven-day intensive course allows you to create your own sentences about anything you please.