I help people to learn Dutch at a very high speed.
How appreciating spring can boost your Dutch15 April 2014, by Albert Both
What’s the secret to improving your Dutch quickly: work much harder or study more? Or is it something simpler and even joyful? How about that you need to learn how to appreciate spring?
Sounds crazy? Perhaps I had better explain...
Bringing your Dutch to a new level
Greatly improving your Dutch does not have to be difficult. Although learning new words and grammar is important, the one thing that really makes all the difference is your ability to understand that learning and speaking Dutch is a natural process.
Here’s my analogy. You can compare your Dutch to a tree as it lives through different seasons. Let’s start with winter, where everything is dim and nothing seems to happen. Looks quite a bit like how the beginning of the learning process feels, doesn’t it?
Just think of the branches of a tree in winter; completely bare. But soon enough, another season comes and then slowly everything starts to change.
The arrival of spring
When spring comes, all of a sudden everything starts to look different. No wonder spring is many people’s favourite season. Everything is so green and fresh; somehow, it's easier to feel joy. I don’t think anyone complains about spring, right?
Paradoxically, complaining about spring is exactly what many people do when it comes to learning and speaking Dutch. The same as anything in nature, when a real transformation in learning comes, it often starts with something small.
Sometimes the first indication of change can be so small that you probably ignored it. Therefore, in order to really see a transformation in your Dutch, you need to master one particular skill: to appreciate each and every result, even the small ones.
Refusing to see the new buds
Quite often people do not see that when they are learning they are actually moving forward. For them, it seems that it is still winter and that it will probably stay winter forever.
And if they do see an improvement, they simply complain that it is not enough and they don’t want to wait forever. Ironically, it is just at the moment when a real change is taking place that most people give in to frustration and give up.
So here’s the secret: first, learn how to see your progress; and second, learn how to really appreciate it. True appreciation works like sunlight: the more you shine on your results, the more they can start to grow and blossom.
Getting that spring in your step
Many people find it difficult to see and appreciate progress, certainly in the beginning. It seems easier to only see what is not working and then complain about it. But has anyone ever achieved great results by complaining?
Start with appreciation first and give yourself a compliment for trying. This is always a great start. It might make you feel less negative about the language, or at least that it’s not that difficult and there are many things you can already do in Dutch, with relative ease.
Sure, perhaps these may be relatively insignificant things initially, but when you think of my analogy, that everything in nature starts very small, then even one perfect sentence becomes the beginning of a breakthrough in speaking Dutch.
The grass is always greener
In Dutch there is a saying: je kan het gras niet uit de grond trekken, which roughly means that you cannot pull the grass out of the ground. You need to sow some seeds first, water them and make sure they have enough sunshine.
Then once you see some tiny green shoots just poking out of the ground, simply enjoy the process. There is always the desire to make things happen faster, in this case to try to use coercion to make the grass grow more quickly, but that simply does not work.
Grass, like language, will take care of itself without you having to do the all the work. Your Dutch will easily get better as long as you can stay relaxed, patient and positive.
Every day is spring
The great news is that you don’t have to wait years or even months for a whole new season for your Dutch. Even a couple of days of greater appreciation may result in spring (or even summer) coming to your language skills.
The most important thing is to open your mind and allow those important changes to take place relatively quickly.
So, when you notice some small positive results with your Dutch, don’t immediately complain that they are not enough. Their positive impact might be the trigger that causes your Dutch to bloom!
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