3 little thought twists that can help you to speak Dutch for real in 2021

3 little thought twists that can help you to speak Dutch for real in 2021

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Have you always planned on learning Dutch but haven't been able to turn that dream into a reality? Albert Both from Talencoach has some handy tips for how you can turn 2021 into the year you finally learn.

The truth is that, quite often, just a few simple thoughts can stop us from getting all the things that we really want. But once you become aware of this, you can turn it around and chances are, all of a sudden you’ll feel more energised and optimistic.

First of all, have you ever recognised that thoughts are actually quite strange? Yes, we have thousands of them, but you cannot really see them. They are invisible and quite intangible and often they last just a couple of seconds. And yet, they hold tremendous power. Whether you realise it or not, they can determine a great deal of your life, and one thing is certain: when you want to speak Dutch, your thoughts play a massive and important role.

So what are your first thoughts when you think about speaking Dutch? Are they all positive? Sure, you might like the idea of freeing yourself from many limitations….That part is exciting, right? But then, chances are also high that other, negative thoughts will come up and stop you from leading the life you’d really like to live.

Although there are hundreds and hundreds of different negative thoughts that can come up, I would like to focus on three main thoughts first. Let’s see if you recognise them and then, having established that these thoughts are actually not that helpful, we can give them a little twist! By looking at things from another perspective, you may see some new possibilities.

1. "I don’t really need Dutch"

This thought is very reasonable and it kills many dreams. And, sure, if you look at it objectively, it contains a lot of truth. You can get by in Holland without speaking any Dutch: you can have a great job, a fulfilling sex life, and do many different things (as long as corona doesn’t ruin it). So a genuine question is whether you should try to learn Dutch at all?

Speaking Dutch could sound as exciting as studying Icelandic - it could be nice and exotic, but not necessarily useful.

So, here are some ideas to play with. First of all, would you consider absolute need and necessity as core drivers in your life? For example, your body needs water to survive and does not need wine and beer. Also, a holiday in a faraway country is not something that you absolutely need…

If you are like most people, chances are high that you’ll disagree! If you think: Bog off, I just want to have nice holidays, then congratulations! Now you have the right mindset! Doing something because you really need it is actually quite boring. But, if you like things that are nice little extras, then you probably operate on a higher level of awareness. 

I personally believe that it is always great to experience life to its greatest fullness. If you decide you like speaking Dutch because it makes life richer, then it will be a lot easier to learn and you’ll feel more positive. Speaking Dutch will make your life far more intriguing. It will help you to realise that what you are doing right now is quite special and that there are many great things that you can learn from it. Now you can dive much deeper into a different culture, and that alone is huge!

2. "I'm not good at languages"

I have been a language coach for more than 17 years now and I have met so many people that were really convinced that they had no special gift for languages. I must admit that it is very easy to believe this.

First of all, many people take school as a reference. Imagine that you got an F in French. What would that mean? My parents thought it would be nice for me if I learned Ancient Greek at the age of 15. Soon enough, I discovered that all I could get was a 1 (on the scale of 1 to 10), and I decided that I was not a necrolinguist (someone who studies dead languages). But now, for some reason, I have started to learn and speak Modern Greek.

So here is the thing: I thoroughly enjoy learning and speaking Greek. Why? First of all, I am smart enough to not take any exams. The problem with exams is that they’ll only look at what you do wrong and deduct it from your score. That is why you will never ever see me at the University in Athens trying to study Greek language and literature. But what I do like to do is visit a Greek island and speak with real people over the summer. I found a nice little school that is extremely mellow and relaxed and yet highly effective. Somehow, I changed the rules of playing this language game. I figured out what I like to do when I learn and speak a new language, and so far it has worked well!

Here is another important thing, certainly if your only language is English: you may believe that you can learn Dutch just by picking it up, but in most cases, it will never work. I speak a couple of different languages and I know that somehow I have always needed some kind of education or training. For example, I know that I mainly learn new words by seeing them. Although I have picked up many things just by speaking with people, I could never do it without proper training. 

Here is another important secret: how you feel during learning is extremely important. When you feel tired after work, then you’ll easily come to the conclusion that you are not gifted at learning and speaking a new language. But if you change your timing things can be different. I know for myself that I love intensity. I find it hard to learn things when I do it for one hour per week. That is why I love to focus on things for a week, because then great results are possible.

By the way, many people love to believe that if you are very serious while learning, then it means that you are operating on a higher intellectual level. But, if you feel bored, it is actually a bad sign. Learning fast is all about engagement. Speaking a new language is not a boring, rational exercise. Above all, it is about expressing your emotions - love, hate, irritation and surprise - and anything else you can imagine.

3. "It takes too long before I can do anything with my Dutch"

One thing that could stop you from speaking “real” Dutch is that you might be afraid that it will take a lot of hard work and intense study. That idea is not really inspiring, right? And then, to make it worse, it is also easy to believe that it will take a long, long, looooong time before you can really use it. Luckily, there is also another perspective: long before you speak Dutch fluently, you can greatly benefit from playing with the language.

If you wonder when the fun could really begin when you start to speak Dutch, the answer might surprise you. If you like, it could start right now. If you like, you can have tremendous fun with it from the very beginning.

Many people believe that speaking Dutch is just one decision, but this is actually not true. Another decision that is equally important is: how would you like to learn it? You might believe that the right answer would be a Dutch language course, but contrary to what you may expect, not all language courses are the same. There are many differences - not just the prices!

Sure, you can go for a boring course and embrace the idea of memorisation, but that does not mean that all language courses have to be like this. I personally believe that understanding humour is extremely important when you learn a new language, and I love to learn all the filthy and naughty words right at the start!

Here is another important secret: language courses get automatically boring when it seems that they have nothing to do with your own personal life. In many courses, teachers either like to talk about very mundane things, or they go wild on abstract grammatical concepts while rattling on in Dutch. But, here is the thing - you can use all the things that you recognise from your daily and personal life. Chances are high that you have picked up more than you realised… Once you start to use all the things that already look and sound familiar to you, something great is happening. All of a sudden you’ll feel engaged.

Here is the thing: most language courses focus on just memorisation and tedious repetition, but the most important skill that you’ll ever need for unleashing your Dutch fluency is to be able to open up, follow your curiosity, and start to play and experiment. If instead of just focusing on all your flaws and things that you cannot do yet, you start to focus on all the new insights that you get, and if you can truly appreciate all these little things that you can learn each and every day, soon enough, your Dutch could be really different!

What are you waiting for? Make 2021 the year you learn Dutch!

If you genuinely like the idea of speaking Dutch for real in 2021, it might be a good time to make a new plan for yourself. Last, but not least, one thing is extremely important: if you really like the idea of speaking Dutch in 2021, then make sure that you find out for yourself what could work for you and take action first. In the end, it is action that can turn your dream of speaking Dutch into a reality!

Do you want to learn Dutch quickly and comprehensively? Get in touch with Albert at [email protected], or sign up for Talencoach’s Dutch Brainwash programme – an intensive Dutch course in the centre of Amsterdam.

You can also:

All free of charge!

Albert Both


Albert Both

I help with an approach of learning Dutch that is completely different from any other language course. It is called Dutch Brainwashing. The immediate result is that you learn at...

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