With the Dutch Flow method, learning the Dutch language only requires an open mind and a positive attitude
So you’ve decided it’s high time you learned Dutch. Maybe you’re a newly arrived expat in the Netherlands, keen to make immediate sense of the unintelligible vocabulary which greeted you as you emerged from Schiphol.
Or maybe you’ve been in the country long enough to be tired of nodding awkwardly when the supermarket cashier asks if you need a receipt, and now you want to make that emotional connection to your adopted country and its people that can only be found by speaking Dutch.
Albert Both, inventor of the Dutch Flow method and founder of Amsterdam-based Talencoach, which holds innovative, intensive Dutch language courses for expats, argues that the only barriers to learning Dutch are those we place on ourselves.
“For some expats in the Netherlands, English is like the loyal friend that is always there for you, and Dutch is the monster in the room,” Albert says. “But learning Dutch opens up new worlds. It enables you to express your feelings and achieve deeper interpersonal bonds.”
Albert Both is also known as Mr. Dutch Brainwash, from his (in)famous Dutch-language teaching method. Talencoach offers different language course packages, from the seven-day immersive Brainwash class to the higher level Dutch Mastery – as well as individual sessions.
But everyone in the Netherlands speaks English!
Yes, that’s true! And perhaps unsurprising given that the average Dutch person has spent hundreds of hours studying English at school, and possibly using it at work and in their personal lives.
But, says Albert, there are many, many reasons why you should learn Dutch. “Humans are social creatures, and communication is vital in helping us build our social networks, develop a sense of belonging and emotional bonds which are good for the heart and soul. Learning Dutch is, for expatriates, a form of acceptance that you’re staying in the country and you want to satisfy your curiosity about what is going on around you and connect with people!”
There are practical benefits too: if you are looking for a job in the Netherlands, speaking Dutch might show that you are able to pick up new skills quickly and open up a wider spectrum of jobs. If your children attend a Dutch school, you’ll be better equipped to help them with homework (and understand what they’re saying to their friends during play dates!).
Learning Dutch is easier than you think
That may be a counter intuitive statement given that we’re talking about a language for whom the term ‘double Dutch’ was coined. But Dutch is in fact closely related to English, and so there are few major grammatical hurdles.
“Dutch and English are like brother and sister,” says Albert. “You’ll be surprised how many Dutch words you’ll pick up quickly. It is very predictable. Our Dutch coaching sessions concentrate on topics that have emotional resonance. About 80% of conversation relates to social relationships, but traditional language textbooks are all about survival techniques.”
The genius of the Dutch Flow method is that it focuses on teaching you Dutch by talking about things that you like and matter to you. If you are enthusiastic about the topic, you learn more easily.
Speaking Dutch for expats is arguably not that difficult, but that doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly be fluent – there is no golden ticket to learning Dutch fast.
You’ve seen the ads. The ‘regular’ guy that learned 11 languages in no time or the app that guarantees you’ll be speaking a foreign language in a week.
Albert argues that it is easier to learn a language quickly because urgency leaves less room for procrastination.
“At Talencoach, we run intensive courses like Dutch Flow Method, which is a fun, easy way to unleash your hidden Dutch talent,” he explains. “Students in our accelerated course often report that they can read many sentences from Dutch newspapers after only 20 hours, and we employ a very effective intense learning technique called Dutch Brainwash to achieve this.”
What is Dutch Brainwash?
No, it isn’t some draconian punishment for naughty language students!
“Think of it as a language shower for your brain that refreshes your mind. It can be very relaxing,” says Albert. “Your mind is naturally open to everything in your home country, including the language. When we get older our mental openness and ability to absorb experiences, including language, begins to shrink.
“A Dutch brainwash course is a seven-day immersion which is not just about training your mind to think in different ways, but also feeling confident and at ease, and breaking down the mental and emotional walls that were holding you back,” he says.
Learning Dutch the fun way
“A good Dutch language coach will create the optimum conditions for the student to learn the language,” Albert explains. “It is my job to activate the mechanism for you to pick up things that you wouldn’t normally pick up quickly.”
Humour is definitely one of those mechanisms: everyone responds positively to fun, and learning Dutch is no different. Albert says humour is an important ingredient in that.
“If you understand Dutch humour you can better understand the culture and country, and therefore Dutch language,” he says. “Exploring Dutch through humour is fun and engaging, and students tend to learn faster.”
Baby steps to learning Dutch
As a baby you learned your native language from scratch. You underwent an intensive language course without all the distractions, life clutter and daily background noise we adults must contend with. Life was once a blank piece of paper – if only we could erase ours and start with the blank sheet again!
“A baby has a deep desire to communicate,” Albert explains. “They constantly listen to sounds and are able to successfully decode essential codes of grammar and vocabulary. Babies do not care about making mistakes. Babies accept all the help they can get. Babies start with the basics first – they do not try to be polite or intellectual. Babies don’t know the meaning of perfectionism. Babies are extremely curious and are excited about all the new things they can discover. Babies never give up!”
With the Dutch Flow method, you’ll find your inner child’s earnest enthusiasm again – but you’ll make big steps in your grown-up shoes!
15 years ago, Albert Both (also known as meneer Dutch Brainwash), quit his boring job and started a new adventure: Talencoach. The idea was simple: make sure that people can learn Dutch faster and say much more than they ever imagined. He mixes his experience and love for languages with NLP, Accelerated Learning, provocative coaching and stand-up comedy in a technique called the Dutch Flow Now Method.Learn Dutch with Albert