Learning Dutch experiences — guest post
This post is about the nemesis of every expat in the Netherlands: learning the Dutch language. I have a few stories of myself regarding the subject, but this one comes from someone else: Nicolas Deskos, content writer for Interlinguals. I hope you’ll find it interesting.
Despite the fact that I was only planning on staying in the Netherlands for a couple of years and that the language of my studies was English, I still decided to learn Dutch. Before moving to Amsterdam, I attempted to teach myself some basic Dutch using a language-learning software. While this did wonders for my Dutch vocabulary, I found myself unable to put two words together in a sentence upon my arrival. My decision to take a Dutch course in Amsterdam was based on my desire to be more immersed in Dutch culture. I was lucky enough make some Dutch friends but with this came times when I would be the only non-Dutch speaking person at a social gathering. These experiences were only a few of the reasons why I felt motivated to learn Dutch.
From my experience at school, I know that the traditional method of learning a language, with the emphasis on grammar, does not give you confidence to speak in real-life situations. With this in mind, I purposely chose a course designed to increase fluency and pronunciation. This method is the best way to learn and speak a new language.
The Dutch courses at the Interlinguals School are designed to develop your communication and networking skills and make you feel comfortable communicating with your neighbours, colleagues and other (inter)national contacts in Amsterdam. The Class & City course is designed to help you with the practical application of Dutch by combining theory with field trips to museums, local street markets, shops and architectural and historical sights.
Here are some personal tips for learning Dutch:
- Do not be afraid to make mistakes, fluency is more important than accuracy
- Watch Dutch films and/or listen to Dutch music
- Ask locals to speak Dutch with you even when they insist on speaking English
- Focus on the context of the conversation and not the literal translation
Being able to communicate and comprehend Dutch really does make a huge difference to the quality of the expat experience in Amsterdam. Whether it is to socialise with Dutch colleagues, to increase job possibilities or to feel less like a tourist, it is definitely worth it to start learning Dutch.