Talencoach: Teach yourself Dutch

Can you learn Dutch on your own?

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Have you ever thought that if you lived in a certain country, you would learn the language automatically? This is what many people love to believe, but in most cases, learning a new language does not happen so easily. [Contributed by Talencoach]

As an expat, you’ll soon discover that living in a country and speaking its language are two different things—and actually, living in a country for a long time and still not speaking the language is quite easy!

Strangely enough, this comes as a surprise to most people. Expats often assume that they will automatically learn the language, since they are surrounded by Dutch-speaking all the time. And yes, to some extent, it seems to work. You may start to pick up common Dutch words and phrases such as lekker, gezellig and doei—so at the beginning, Dutch language acquisition seems promising. But then, all of a sudden, the learning stops.

Teach yourself Dutch: the DIY method

The reason is quite simple: learning takes conscious effort. You must actively decide to learn and speak Dutch; otherwise, it will not happen.

You could decide that you are eager to learn Dutch, but in most cases, eagerness is not be enough—though some people do claim that they learned Dutch on their own, just by practicing frequently. 

There are many do-it-yourself teaching methods that promise that you can teach yourself Dutch, and the idea seems great: you are your own teacher, you can study any time you want, and perhaps most importantly, it is fairly cheap since you don’t have to pay for a Dutch course or private teacher

To teach yourself Dutch, it requires that you study alone with just the books or software (there are plenty of resources available to learn Dutch online) that you have selected. If you like to memorise words and figure things out on your own—and you have loads of free time—teaching yourself Dutch could be a fantastic option. 

Teaching yourself Dutch

Learn Dutch with a teacher

However, you could learn a lot faster (and better) with a teacher. It can be very difficult to teach yourself certain aspects of a language without a guide: how can you correct your own pronunciation, for example? And if you teach yourself something incorrectly—a grammar rule, for example—it can be much more difficult to correct the habit later. 

Without a teacher, it also might be more difficult for you to see the overall picture when learning Dutch: what is really important and what should you learn first? Knowing what to learn is also important information. You may think that a teach-yourself book will outline all of this for you, but this is not always the case. These types of books often show dialogue about certain topics that you must memorise; these books are not flexible in that they can’t alter the dialogue or correct you when you make mistakes.

What you often see in self-teach methods is that they merely show you simple situations with accompanying dialogue. Although they do give some explanation, it is often not enough to really understand what you are saying.

It also may not be easy to stay focused when teaching yourself Dutch. Many people who have worked with teach-yourself books admit to falling asleep while studying or feeling “stuck” because they did not understand the material. When this happens, learning, of course, does not occur.

Learning a language

If you have an inspiring teacher—and certainly when you learning alongside others—you’ll immediately notice one thing that makes all the difference: energy. If you feel energised during a class, it is so much easier to make progress. 

In Dutch, the word leren means both “to learn” and “to teach”—but no one can learn for you. You have to learn for yourself. Teachers, however, can give you the information and the tools that will decide whether you, as the student, absorb it or not. It does help if you have a great teacher to learn from, but you must take care of your own learning to achieve truly great results.

A great teacher should show his or her students to learn much more all by themselves. A great teacher will also teach you how to be your own teacher. After all, if you know how to teach yourself and learn new things, you can be unstoppable! 

Contributed by Talencoach


Discover more about learning Dutch with Talencoach's free e-book 'Why you hate learning Dutch and 7 secrets to change it' and/or the workshops Albert Both offers to expats in the Netherlands.


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