Why would you only talk about the weather?
Have you ever wondered why learning Dutch takes forever? Have you ever felt that there aren't that many subjects you can talk freely about? This is a result of so-called "single context shifting."
Why learning Dutch is soooo slow
The vast majority of language courses are based on the same principle, use the same "techniques," and follow the same procedure: they present to you a few sentences related to specific subjects and ask you to memorise or "study" them.
It makes sense, right? Of course, it does. But, as always, there is a catch: it’s sooo slow... And unfortunately, this applies to a wide variety of topics ranging from introducing yourself to talking about the weather.
So, let’s take the latter as an example. Following the standard procedure, you will have to learn many Dutch words and / or expressions about the weather. Let’s say that you did. Now what? You need to learn more words and more expressions, right?
Well, if you have time, and you think that such a slow procedure will not affect your willingness to learn Dutch, and of course, your overall life quality, go for it! If you want to learn fast and have fun, though, read on!
Let’s really talk about the weather!
How much do you know about multiple context shifting? The principle is quite straightforward: learn a word and check how you can use it in other contexts too!
Again, it’s as time-consuming as the "classic" approach at the beginning but, as you can imagine, this technique will highly accelerate the learning procedure once you master it.
› de donder
For example, de donder means "the thunder." How about making it het dondert meaning that "it is thundering?"
Now, did you know that Donderdag (Thursday) literally means "thunderday?" It’s exactly like Maandag (Monday) which literally means "moonday" or Vrijdag (Friday) that can be translated as "freeday" or "make love day" since vrijen means "to make love." Honestly, isn’t it easy to remember these words when you start "playing" with them?
› donder op
But let’s go back to donder. If you are furious with someone you could shout donder op which literally means "thunder up," or more loosely translated "get out of here."
› Oeps, het overdondert me
Now, let’s take it one step further… What do you think the Dutch sentence Oeps, het overdondert me means?
Seems like a thunder hits you all of sudden, right? How about that all of a sudden you have an unexpected surprise (that hits you like a thunder) and leaves you overwhelmed?
› Hij bedondert haar
Finally, what do you think about this sentence: Hij bedondert haar? You can probably recognise parts of it: "he be- thunders her." Of course, this doesn’t make sense in English.
But even then, you can understand that he did something bad to her. It can mean many things but from what we have just discussed, would you like someone to do it to you? Probably not.
Make your life easier!
Don’t worry, you don’t need to memorise the last two sentences; you might not even have to use them. But don’t you think it’s very important to understand (more or less) what more "complex" expressions like this one (could) mean? Wouldn’t that make your life easier?
Once you realise how much faster you are learning, you will just love it - as opposed to the weather (weer) in the Netherlands, or should I say onweer (literally "un-weather" due to the thunders or donder)...
Now you know how it works so stop memorising and start playing with words. Have fun and discover how many more topics you will be able to talk about!
Albert Both is a specialist on learning Dutch fast and gaining Dutch fluency while having fun.
› Download his e-book "Why You Hate Learning Dutch and 7 Secrets to Change It,"
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