Learning Dutch: From zero to hero in less than a year
From a complete beginner in Dutch to upper-advanced in less than 10 months: that’s what Emery (44, from the US) accomplished last year. Some might be inclined to call Emery a linguistic genius, but quick progress is possible for many given the right circumstances, motivation and determination. Emery made some very conscious decisions in order to reach her goal, one of which was to learn Dutch with the Delft Method. Emery and Lobke, one of Emery’s teachers from NedLes, share their experiences with this unique method.
The Delft Method, developed at Delft University of Technology, is not an ordinary language learning method. Lobke, a Dutch language teacher in Amsterdam, was introduced to the method 3,5 years ago. “One of my colleagues followed a workshop on this method. She thought it would be a great addition to the courses we already offered, because it suits most of our students - ambitious, highly educated people - very well.”
Blown away by the results
At that moment, Lobke had already been teaching Dutch as a foreign language for almost 10 years. She is an energetic teacher loved by her students, with a strong linguistic and educational background. But still, she was blown away by the results she saw in the language classes with the Delft Method. “It is amazing what progress students make, week after week.”
Lobke followed a special teacher training course before starting to teach with the Delft Method. This additional training is necessary because the method focuses on speaking, from day one.
In particular, the teacher has to create a safe and stimulating environment to invite the students to speak as much as possible, while at the same time correcting all the mistakes the students make. The teacher does that without interrupting the story, mostly by using hand gestures.
The very first class
If all this speaking and correcting sounds intimidating, let’s switch to the students’ perspective. How did Emery experience her first class, as a complete beginner?
“It was fun! We immediately started speaking, which is what I really like about the method. The teachers were very engaging and the material, both in the book and online, was very helpful. The class was a safe space to practice, to make mistakes and to try again. I don’t like being corrected in normal life - not at all - but in the classes, I didn’t mind. I knew it helped me to improve,” said Emery.
Emery is married to a Dutch man. Once she had decided to live with him in the Netherlands, it was clear to her that she wanted to learn Dutch. “If I speak Dutch, I fit in better. If I only speak English, I limit my world.” She had a good feeling when she read about the Delft Method. “It helps you to learn the language quicker, and that appealed to me.”
Besides speaking, another pillar of the Delft Method is that the students are given a text to study in-depth before each class. They have to read and listen to the text several times and do exercises online. The preparation time for a one-hour lesson is three to four hours.
Emery took an intensive course (four times a week). How was it for her to do all the homework? Emery said, “I tried to do all the steps. Of course, sometimes it’s hard. It can feel tedious to repeat something over and over again. But when I had completed a text, I felt confident. I knew what I was talking about and I was well prepared for the class.”
Is it possible to incorporate this amount of self-study into daily life? “For me it was,” said Emery, “I was able to do a bit every day. That’s the best thing to do anyway, when you’re learning Dutch, a bit every day.”
Get started right away!
Now, as an experienced Dutch learner, Emery advises everyone who is considering starting a course: “Get started right away! You have to decide for yourself if the Delft Method is the best method for you, because it requires self-study and discipline. But if you want to learn quickly, the Delft Method is a wonderful way to learn.”
And teacher Lobke, what would she advise people who are thinking of taking a course? “Be realistic about the time you have available, outside of the classes. And think about the opportunities you have to practice in real life. But if you’re dedicated and it fits within your schedule, take a Dutch course that uses the Delft Method! The results still amaze me. In speaking, writing, understanding, and pronunciation: my students are doing so, so well.”
Ready to start your Dutch course with the Delft Method at NedLes? Book your free intake here!
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