3 great ways to waste your time while learning Dutch
There is one very disagreeable thing about learning and speaking a new language: it takes time.
You could easily say that the first challenge you’ll encounter when speaking Dutch is finding, or creating, the time. This is not always easy, and here’s the annoying thing: even if you find the time, chances are high that you’ll waste it.
What not to do
Here are the top three things to avoid if you want to learn Dutch fast. Why wait, if you can have great results right now?
1. Learn Dutch after work
This is time waster Number One, mainly because initially it seems like such a big time saver, at least in theory. Just go to work and then, before going home, you can also grab a great amount of Dutch at an evening course. Logical, right?
Unfortunately the opposite is true. Try to learn Dutch after work and you can be sure of one thing: you will waste a lot of time.
Check it yourself: how do you feel after work? Energised or tired? The fact is, to learn a new language you need to familiarise yourself with a whole new way of thinking. If you feel mentally alert than you can absorb new information fast. But if you already feel tired, then you probably won’t learn that much.
There is also another risk. You may start to think that you are not gifted in languages, because your learning is so slow.
Luckily there is one simple thing that you can do. Take a couple of days off from work (if you can) and start learning during the daytime, maybe with an intensive course. You’ll notice a radical difference immediately.
2. Follow explanations in Dutch
Here’s a great myth: if you follow grammatical explanations in Dutch, it will help you familiarise yourself with the language and you‘ll learn faster. Teachers certainly believe this.
But if you think about it, it doesn’t make sense. How can you follow an explanation about grammar if you don’t understand it in the first place?
On top of that, you will hear outlandish linguistic terms that even Dutch people find difficult to understand, such as nevenschikkend voegwoord (coordinating conjunction) and naamwoordelijk deel van het gezegde (nominal part of the phrase).
It’s already easy to predict the outcome: you will feel uncertain about many things, your learning will slow down and you’ll constantly feel like you’re missing things.
This calls for radical action! Does your book explain Dutch grammar in Dutch? Then throw it away immediately!
Don’t waste time listening to long commentaries in Dutch that you don’t understand. All you need is some clarity, in plain English, explained in a logical way. Then you can grasp grammar concepts within a couple of minutes.
Only then can you move forward at a faster pace and start to enjoy the language.
3. Converse with your fellow students in Dutch
This teaching method is so ridiculous that it definitively deserves a place in the top three greatest time wasters. By the way, most teachers love it, certainly if they teach bigger groups.
It goes like this: your teacher asks you to have a conversation with the person sitting next to you in Dutch. Sure, it sounds like a great idea. Now you can practice your Dutch, right?
Here’s the problem. While "practicing" with your neighbour you have no idea about what you’re saying. Is it correct? Is it wrong? In most cases your teacher will be on the other side of the room, so there is no one to correct you.
You probably already feel that this exercise is completely senseless and, on top of that, you might even pick up some incorrect speaking habits from your classmates.
Ask your teacher to listen in on your conversation with other students, or ask native Dutch-speakers to correct you when talking to them.
Use your time wisely
So there you have it: the three greatest ways to waste your time while speaking Dutch and how to avoid them.
One more tip: if you really want to speak Dutch, then make fast learning an absolute priority. This is simply because if you learn quickly, you‘ll enjoy it more, and if you enjoy it more, then you‘ll learn even faster!
If you are learning Dutch already, then congratulations! It means you have already decided to dedicate time to the language. Now you just need to use it wisely and many great things can happen. Succes!
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