Have you been trying to learn Dutch for some time? Then you must have noticed one thing—learning and speaking Dutch can be quite difficult. Why? Let’s start with the bad news. Most people who try to learn and speak Dutch will miserably fail, often sooner than later. And, even if some people manage, chances are high they still feel limited about it.
But, there is also good news. You don’t have to be one of these people. If you like, you could learn and speak more Dutch than you could ever imagine. The only thing is that you need to be willing to think in a different way. After all, you’ll belong to a special minority 😉
First, let’s explore the obvious. Why is it so easy to fail? There are many different reasons! If you do not do these things, it would already give you a big jump ahead!
Let’s start with a big one. You might believe you can learn Dutch in the same way you picked up your own language as a child. The idea seems logical. Children pick up languages automatically, so if you are in the right place at the right time with the right people, then everything will take care of itself, right?
Let’s Start With all Those Things That Don’t Work!
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Sure, you may pick up things like stroopwafel and haring, alsjeblieft and dank je wel, after which, in most cases, your learning will slow down tremendously. Don’t worry if you noticed this happening with you. There is nothing wrong with you. The only thing that is good to realize is that normally you do not pick up a language, just like that.
Here is the thing—if it looks like a language that already sounds familiar to you, then sure, you might learn some words and phrases. But, you can never learn things you don’t understand. If certain words or constructions do not make sense to you, you will not pick them up like that. On the contrary, chances are that you will miss all these things in the first place and that when you try to speak in Dutch, you keep thinking in your own language. Then when you say something, it makes a lot of sense to you, but others will look at you with a strange look in their eyes because they simply do not understand.
Many people believe that if you have a Dutch partner, that will do the trick. If someone really loves you, then they would be excited to teach you, right? Although it feels reasonable, there is one big problem. Speaking a language does not mean that you can teach it! If you like, you can try it out for yourself. Try to explain to other people how your language really works.
Chances are high that you cannot do it! Of course, you could tell others what is correct or not, but very likely you would not be able to explain in a logical way.
So, if you cannot just pick it up all by yourself, and if a partner cannot really teach you Dutch, then what other options would you have? You could sign up for a Dutch language course. This may not do the trick either. There could be several different reasons. Maybe you feel tired during your class, for example. And, how many things can you really learn if you are not mentally alert? Or, your teacher only talks Dutch to you and there are too many things that you simply do not understand. If you feel overwhelmed, it is easy to feel frustrated and then it is very easy to give up!
So now that you know why it does not work, it is good to focus on the good news. Yes, it is possible to learn Dutch faster than you can imagine and speak loads of Dutch while having outrageous fun. You’ll just have to move forward in a way that is totally different.
The One Thing Most People Forget
First of all, you do have a natural ability to pick up new things, and speaking a new language is one of them. All you need to do is to ignite that natural ability and then have loads of fun with it.
What have you noticed when you look at most language courses? Have you noticed that the main focus is on memorizing loads of words and information retention? That can be quite stressful, right? Certainly, if that new information does not make a lot of sense to you.
Here is what too many people do. They focus on one page in a textbook. They read it again and again and memorize it by heart, even if it does not make sense. It is quite boring, don’t you think? On top of that, it does not allow you to move ahead fast enough.
Instead of focusing on memorizing, you could also do another revolutionary thing. What if you simply started to play with Dutch words? Contrary to what many people think, remembering is not the most important thing at all. There are a couple of things that are far more important.
The first skill that is very important is that you have fun while playing with Dutch words. You may have discovered that Dutch and English have many things in common. And if you could discover how Dutch really works, then many things will get a lot easier when natural learning the language.
Before you Learn Anything, Start Playing
Let’s play with a couple of examples:
- Voor = for
- Veld = field
- Ver = far
Can you now guess what vecht means?
If you look closely, you will notice that V in Dutch is often F in English. Is there are an English word that starts with F that is close enough to Vecht? In English, it would be f**ht… Do you have an idea now? If said “fight,” then congratulations!
Then, if you like you can already start to make some first Dutch sentences. Simply start with ik (I) and then say: ik vecht met mijn depressie. Ik vecht met mijn ex. Ik vecht met een monster. Ik vecht met mezelf.
You could also say: de kat vecht met de hond or de hond vecht met een stroopwafelmonster. Believe it or not, these are all great Dutch sentences. Sure, you might argue that they are not always useful, but it does not really matter. The most important thing is that you can create some Dutch sentences using natural learning!
By the way, there seems to be something magical about creating your own sentences, even if they don’t make any sense at all. Somehow, it opens the door to more flow. The secret is simple—once you create many sentences, it will be far easier to create even more!
Another important thing is that you start to recognize more Dutch words. Quite often, they are quite close to English, so the sooner you recognize them, the faster your vocabulary will grow.
Here is another word: vuist. Initially, it is not a word that you may know, but change V into F and things could get easier for you. Just think of Fuist and remove one letter now. Here is a sentence that could help you—Hij vecht met een vuist (he fights with a…). Let’s hope that it is obvious now. Vuist in Dutch is fist in English.
Let’s bring it to a higher level now—would you be able to guess what vuistslag means? You may have seen the word slagroom before. Room in Dutch means cream, and there is a new word, slag. Do you have any idea what slag could mean?
The solution is very simple. What do you need to do with milk if you like to turn it into cream? You need to beat it, right? If you touch the milk too gently, it will not change into room. Now that you think about it in English, you might remember that you call it whipped cream. So now, slagroom makes more sense, right? And yes… you can hit the milk and you can do it with your fist. So vuistslag means a hit with your fist.
Now think of someone that you do not like. It could be a politician or your schoonmoeder (mother-in-law). Now imagine that you say: ik geef…een vuistslag. It simply means I hit… (name of the person that you don’t like) with a fist.
The Natural Learning Zone
How does it feel when you can start to guess the right words all by yourself? Probably you’ll feel a bit smarter, right? So here is a very simple secret: real confidence does not come from your ability to memorize things all the time. However, if you discover that you can see new information, decode it on the spot and play with it, this is the fast track to loads of confidence. You just know that through time, you can figure out many things all by yourself.
The zone of natural learning is a great place. It feels very relaxed and is a great adventure. It has nothing to do with stressful and boring studying. If you like to speak Dutch for real now, make sure that this time you also decide how you like to learn it. If you are in a place where you learn things in a natural way and where things are highly entertaining then it could easily lead to speaking Dutch for real!
Once again, the most important step is that you start to ignite your natural learning ability first and in a playful way. Sure, you still need to be patient, but now you can have more fun while learning more Dutch and creating Dutch sentences all by yourself.
Through time you’ll be stronger and more resourceful and you will be able to learn more things all by yourself in many different situations. It simply means that more and more tools will be more helpful. Once more things have started to make sense, you can use anything that you like! If you like to know on how you can activate your natural ability for learning and speaking, Albert Both helps people to learn and speak Dutch fast. With his 7-day course, Dutch Brainwash you’ll learn how to look at Dutch differently so that you can unleash your fluency while having outrageous fun.