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The Secret Weapon For How To Learn Dutch – Language Hacking!

Categories: Education

NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Whether it’s for work, to feel at home, or for increased social bragging rights, learning the ins and outs of any non-native language can be difficult and complex. Unfortunately, a lack of time, budget or a busy work life can make things even harder. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

For the diverse ex-pats living in the Netherlands, there are many reasons that learning Dutch can be difficult. Some feel that there is too much time spent learning ‘useless’ and impractical information. Some find it difficult to adapt their lives around the rigid class schedules. Others get lost in the Dutch-only classes offered by the Gemeente or frustrated with the speed of their group lessons. Not to mention the issues with the actual grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation of the language itself!

Each of these frustrations is valid, relatable, and occurs all too frequently at many Dutch language programs. It is important to realize however, that when gaining any new skill, the ultimate key to success lies in understanding how the brain is wired to learn. If you can identify and use this, you will be able to “hack” the learning process, regardless of the skill you are looking to gain. The question is: HOW do you “hack” language?

In short, the answer is effortlessness – by studying smarter instead of harder. The learning process should be as effortless as possible, the quickest way to the best results. Think about it in terms of learning a second instrument after having already mastered one, you would not re-learn how to read sheet music, right? So, why would you force yourself to re-learn all the basics of a new language?

There are three pillars that ultimately provide the “hack” necessary to achieve this level of effortlessness. With them, those learning Dutch can remember specifics easier, use the foundations they already know faster, and (most importantly) have fun with the entire process. With these pillars, you will realize that learning Dutch is much easier than you think!

With that, the three pillars of language hacking that provide a secret weapon to learn Dutch are:

Jesse Orrico on Unsplash

1. Personalize The Learning Process

When starting any new activity, first make sure it fits into your schedule and lifestyle. It is also very important to see how it will fit with your long terms goals. In other words, visualize what you need to gain, define it honestly, and work toward it at your own pace. Whether it is how to order a meal, small talk with the neighbors, or impressing family back home with your newfound Dutch conversation skills, be honest with what and how you want to achieve Dutch proficiency. If you do, you give yourself a better chance to stay committed and consistent without bending to outside factors.

When applying this to the actual language learning process, it is important to find a program that works with you on a personal level. Think of it like having a monthly gym membership vs. a personal trainer. With a normal membership, there may be just as many reasons not go to the gym, as there are to quit learning a language. With a personal trainer, your goals, schedule, and lifestyle are discussed and respected, resulting in a personalized exercise plan meant to meet your fitness goals. With a personalized language program, these same factors are also considered, resulting in the same kind of tailored plan. A personalized approach to language is like having your very own Dutch personal trainer. One who understands your personal goals and who is invested in your success from the beginning.

2. Generalize – Focus On What You Already Know

To understand generalizing in language learning, think about the above-mentioned instrument example. You could also look at it in terms of driving a car vs. learning to ride a motorcycle. When learning to ride a motorcycle, you do not need to re-learn the rules of the road. On the contrary, those rules lay the foundation from which learning to ride the motorcycle is built. In other words, focus on the similarities and make use of them!

When learning a new language, this is also true. Languages co-evolve, which means they are related to each other in many ways. Whether using words sharing a similar origin (cognates – like the Dutch word “bier” and English “beer”, for example) or words straight up borrowed from other languages (loan words – “robot” is originally a Turkish word, which was taken up by both English and Dutch). There is a huge network of vocabulary and grammar you are already familiar with. It’s all the Dutch you secretly know! By working with these related words, you will be able to hack the learning process by using what you already know. There is no need to spend massive amounts of time learning everything from scratch. Of course, this applies to grammar too. Why study 20 grammar rules when 12 of them are the same in both languages? Instead, focus on those that are unique and reduce overwhelm.

Similarities make the learning process less daunting and allow the brain to relax. It maximizes the brains natural ability to associate, speeding up the learning process.

3. Simplify – Learn Effectively Rather Than Thoroughly

After exhausting all similarities (which is guaranteed to happen eventually), there will always be new information where you will be unable to draw from experience or anything else pre-known. In these cases, highlighting effective learning instead of being overly thorough helps simplify the whole process.

Thorough learning is attempting to learn every possible rule and detail from the start. It may be good for linguists but it makes learning harder than it needs to be for others. Effective learning is more generalized. It breaks language down into rules of thumb. These rules of thumb focus on the things that matter most. They simplify principles, adding complexity at a more gradual pace. It’s like making a bag of microwave popcorn at your friend’s house. Maybe they have a different microwave than the one you have. Different buttons. Different layout. Do you search for the manual, read through it to find your answer or do you simply ask your friend how to use it? Obviously, you ask your friend. You spend the least amount of time to achieve your goal. With efficient learning you are able to achieve more in less time, making progress occur at a much faster rate.

So, with these three pillars of language hacking in mind, is there a program in The Netherlands that uses them when teaching ex-pats how to learn Dutch? The answer is YES. Dutch Ready – a one on one Dutch tutoring program utilizing a unique, neurolinguistic approach to language learning around a fully personalized program. At Dutch Ready, students are paired with tutors at times and locations of their choice, focusing on their language needs in a casual yet effective way. With their understanding of the brain’s ability to associate, Dutch Ready reduces the complexity of learning a new language into something much more adaptable with an approach focused on effectiveness. With the pace of life faster than ever, Dutch Ready’s learning philosophy allows ex-pats to learn Dutch at their own pace and in a personalized way.