Is this one thing stopping you from speaking great Dutch?

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There is one thing that you absolutely need if you want to learn fast and if you’d like to speak Dutch with ease. It is a fun thing, but somehow a lot of people don’t seem to like it.

It has nothing to do with studying like crazy and working hard, actually it is only positive and exciting. The simple secret is this: if you like to boost your level of Dutch fast, then you must embrace adventure.

Is Dutch challenging?

Many people tend to think that Dutch is a complex and difficult language. Dutch people love to say that Dutch is one of the most challenging languages in the world. This is easy to believe, certainly when you don't find it so easy to express yourself the way you'd like to.

Dutch is "German light"

The truth is that Dutch is the closest language to English and you can also see it as "German light". Dutch has the same consistent structure as German, but is a lot simpler. So in theory, Dutch should be one of the easiest languages to learn.

However, a lot of people have also experienced that learning Dutch can be difficult and that speaking Dutch can be an enormous challenge. So what is that one thing that makes it so difficult to learn?

Importance of learning styles

Your results will depend significantly on the learning style that you use. Imagine that you want to dig a hole in your garden. Would you use a teaspoon? Of course not, you would immediately go for a huge shovel, right?

Yet when it comes to learning Dutch, many people seem to use a teaspoon. You could call it teaspoon learning, and if you learn like this, it can take you ages to learn what you want. So why would people use teaspoon learning if it goes so slow?

The main reason that people stick to teaspoon learning is that it feels safe and familiar. It is easy to believe that if you absorb the language in very small portions that you are more in control. You may feel happy if you have a wordlist with 20 words and then at least you know exactly what to do: you memorise it!

This means working and studying, and you’ll have to repeat it over and over. Maybe your main concern is pronunciation. And then, if you want to learn more, you simply memorise another 20 words. Although this learning style is extremely slow, it is also extremely addictive.

The only thing that you need to do is to memorise. It does not require any other thinking skills and you do not need to be creative and certainly you never need to think for yourself. No wonder that so many people seem to like it. Although memorisation can be tedious, it does give the illusion of control and it makes the learning process predictable.

Somehow you know exactly what to expect, and it truly looks as if you make a lot of progress. But once you enter the real Dutch-speaking world, you’ll soon discover that what you learned is not enough!

A different learning method

Luckily, if you want to learn fast and speak lots of Dutch, there is another solution. Throw away your teaspoon and start using a spade instead. It just means that you’ll start to work with pieces of information that are a lot bigger. However, and here is the great thing, you don’t have to memorise this new information immediately.

The most important thing is that you start to play with the Dutch language. And then, while playing around with it over time, you’ll begin to realise how much you picked up in the process, even without noticing it. The great thing about Dutch is that it's so close to English which means that you will recognise a lot. Also, the subject matter is not important when learning with this approach.

Let’s have a look at the following examples:

Ik drink rode wijn.
Meditatie is goed voor de concentratie.
Ik spreek niet zo goed Nederlands.
Mijn probleem is zelf-sabotage.

Can you see that all these sentences are relatively easy? If these sentences were written in Polish, Greek or Turkish then probably you would not be able to read them.

Playing with Dutch sentences

Playing with sentences is different than memorising 20 words by heart, but somehow for your learning process, great things are already happening. Let’s see how you can deal with the following sentence: Mijn werk komt mijn neus uit.

Does this sentence make sense to you? A literal translation would be: my work comes my nose out. Then say: my work comes out of my nose. Just a question: would it feel nice? Just imagine literally that work goes through your nose. It is not pleasant, right? Therefore this sentence basically means: I don’t like my job.

Picking up new things

With this learning method we merely play with words and sentence constructions that are not too difficult. At the same time, we start to look at things from a different perspective.

Another benefit of this method is that by playing with Dutch all the time you will unleash a whole different way of learning: unconscious learning. Whether you realise it or not, your brain starts to pick up new information like crazy.

Conscious and unconscious learning

Dutch will start to feel more and more familiar and then, before you know it, you will actually start to speak it. It is also important to keep in mind that there are two ways of learning: conscious learning and unconscious learning.

With conscious learning you are really aware that you are in the process of learning. It often means that you study and that you see it as a serious undertaking.

Then there is unconscious learning. You pick up a lot of stuff, but very often you are not aware of it. Often it feels that you are only playing and that you laugh a lot, while having fun. Unconscious learning actually works a lot faster than conscious learning.

Accelerated Learning

This is why Accelerated Learning focuses a lot on facilitating unconscious learning. It is playful, it is engaging and it is fun. It also comes with many surprises; it is about experience, adventure and discovery; it is very intense and extremely energising at the same moment.

Therefore, you would think that everybody likes this way of learning, but that's not the case. Many people prefer to stick to the one form of learning that they are familiar with.

But, as we have already seen, if you only study 20 new words each time, you’ll need at least 10 years to learn the language, because Dutch has - just as any other language - thousands of words. If you’d like your Dutch to thrive, you have to play with bigger chunks of information. On top of that, you need other several other skills in addition to memorisation if you want to speak Dutch with ease.

Step outside of your comfort zone

Changing the way you approach learning can make all the difference in how fast you master a new language. It may take some courage to embrace new ideas about learning, and maybe you find it difficult to believe that playfulness can be more effective than being serious. You might believe that you only learn when you study, and that’s perfectly okay if it works for you.

But if you like things to be be fast-paced, then why not go for a new adventure? Actually there isn't much to lose, and a lot to gain. Just experiment and you may find out that you love it!

Albert Both is a specialist in learning Dutch fast while having fun. Sign up for his free workshop "Finding Dutch Flow: Opening The Floodgate to Dutch Fluency" on Sunday, October 9, in Amsterdam.

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 Download his e-book "3 Steps to Dutch flow"
 Download his e-book "Why You Hate Learning Dutch and 7 Secrets to Change It"
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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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