After quite a break from blog writing (my excuses!), I decided to write something about the feelings that I have had with learning Dutch. It definitely has been a great experience to live in the NL (Netherlands), while enjoying the decent level of university education, exploring student life, getting to know the culture, and what I find very important- the language!
The first time I heard people speaking Dutch (more than four years ago), I thought it sounded hilarious! The only language that it reminded me of was German. So I thought Dutch was like a funny version of German. So the first Dutch I met must’ve thought I am a very happy (or just very nuts) person, since I kept on smiling continuously when they talked Dutch, while I had no clue what they were saying. Nevertheless, after three years of some struggle with learning this special language, I have got to the point where I can express most of the things I want in Dutch… OK let’s be honest here, with some English words here and there, but it is getting better.
I must say that since day one I wanted to learn the language. But while university studies, socializing and whatnot have proved to be time consuming, I got to a point of anger at myself a couple of months ago. That anger and disappointment was triggered by the fact that I am actually trying to look for internships in the Netherlands, and got time after another refused as a candidate due to the lack of fluent Dutch skills. I realized that I had not met my ambitions of learning the language on a highly proficient level, even after two Dutch courses. What was lacking? PRACTICE! Here you may ask: so what’s stopping you? The thing is that most Dutchies are very nice and want you to feel welcome, and if they hear a non-native accent in my Dutch, they will almost automatically switch to English if they are fluent in it. One might think that is a great way of showing hospitality, and in a way it is. However, I find it has considerably slowed down my Dutch learning, since any communication event with Dutch people is an opportunity to learn. I know, I know, it does require patience to listen to slow, accented speech, but please Dutch people- consider you are making a great favor to the person who is trying to learn. 🙂
So I hope I have learned the lesson as well, and will also insist on talking Dutch with most of the Dutchies. I know sometimes I am too tired to speak Dutch, and voluntarily switch to English, but I know that those moments are decreasing as the practice grows. Also, I started a Dutch writing course, where we learn more official Dutch, and perfect our writing skills. This is definitely what is needed.
One more thing, yesterday I went for a lunch with a friend, and the waiter opened the discussion in Dutch. I replied in Dutch, after which he suddenly wanted to explain things in English. I kindly continued the discussion in Dutch until the end, and while he wished “a good day”, I replied “tot ziens!!” (see you). I consider that a win from my side, baby steps, baby steps… Anyone struggling with language learning in a new country: the best way to learn is to speak the damned language! We can do this!
I hope you all have a great weekend and I hope I could hear some ideas from you guys, considering how it has been to learn Dutch, or anything related :). En spreek Nederlands met me, a.u.b.! Dank je 😉
Expat for now