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learning dutch

Ik Tengo Zesentwintig Años, Or the Pitfalls of Learning Two Languages at Once

Learning a new language is hard work. Being required to learn two languages at once is somewhat of a nightmare. Why two languages you may be asking? The first is Dutch, which makes sense, after all I do live in the Netherlands. I'm marrying a Dutchman and as of now plan on making this my permanent home. Learning Dutch will only help me feel like I fit in here, make new friends and advance my career. Plus I am required as part of my visa to pass a test by June 2015. The second language I have to learn at the moment is Spanish. For my degree, I am required to take two years of Spanish. I'm not really sure why this is, but if you don't pass Spanish you don't graduate. So, I'm stick learning both at the same time. 

Here are some of the pitfalls of learning two languages at once:

1. You mix up the languages in your head. I am 100% sure I put some Dutch on my last Spanish Exam. It didn't exactly help that the instructions were in Dutch first. 

2. You know that you should devote a ton of time to studying both languages, so you get stressed out about it and instead spend no time on any languages. I'll be the first to admit it, I don't spend anytime working on either language. I think I just get overwhelmed. Which is why starting next week I'll have a study schedule. I'm thinking Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday should be dedicated to Dutch, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Spanish. I'm thinking an hour each day to start off with. Think this will work?

3. You never feel comfortable speaking either. There are plenty of Dutch people here in the Netherlands, there are also plenty of Spanish people. But I am not confident enough in my skills in either language to hold proper conversations. 

Have you ever tried to learn to languages at once? How did you accomplish this? Have you ever learned another language, I'd welcome those tips as well! 

 

 

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Dutch for Dummies: Or How I am Going to Bump My Dutch Up a Level or Two This Summer

My Inburgering classes break for the Summer starting on July 7th, and I have recently learned that despite of being as honest as possible about my intentions to surrender my free time starting in September to be able to take both my degree program classes and inburgering classes, and was told that switching to evening classes would be as easy as saying that I want to switch, I was once again misinformed. Turns out, there is only one evening class offered, and whilst it does move at a much slower pace than my morning class, it is at a completely different level than I am at with my Nederlands. I was told however, that since I would have so many classes between now and then I might maybe be able to switch into it. Ummm, with the summer break I have exactly 7 classes left, two of which are computer labs, they don't count. So basically, because bureaucracies don't talk to each other, I am on my own.

Now, instead of doing my typical American thing of screaming about how UNFAIR it all is, (okay, I did do that for a few hours the day I found this out, let's be honest) I am devising a plan to learn on my own. I am posting it here because I figure the more people who know about it and are there to hold me accountable, the more likely I am to do it. Also, sorry for all the language posts, but it has kind of taken over my life. I promise this is the last one for a week!

So the plan! 

  • I'm going to keep up the class schedule I have right now, plus add Mondays. So from 9 to 12 every weekday will be hitting the books hard. Then another two hours later in the day for additional homework.
  • Complete immersion, besides my Sunday night tv schedule, if I do watch tv, it is going to be in Dutch. This is going to be hard to do, as Dutchies don't dub, and at night it is mostly English programs. So, maybe if The Verlo-and I do watch something I will make a major effort to read the Nederlands subtitles.
  • Find a partner to speak Nederlands to, other than my partner, because we go for about 5 minutes before switching back to our old habits and talking English. 

Jamie Oliver telling all about the dangers of non-free ranged eggs, subtitled in Nederlands.

In all seriousness though, I have probably looked through 50 different books to try and learn Dutch, and Dutch for Dummies is the best for beginners. 

Do you have any tips for going up a level? Also, please, please, please ask me how it is going this summer. I won't lie to my readers and it will help keep me on track. 

 

 

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7 Habits Adult Language Learners Can Learn from Bilingual Children

Here in The Netherlands, I pick up the occasional tutoring gig for young children who are bilingual, and who are too young to learn English in school. These are normally the children of Nederlanders who moved to English speaking countries and have since moved back here. Since I have started becoming serious about learning Nederlands, I can´t help but compare the relative ease of being bilingual in my charges, to the struggles I face everyday as an adult. I have pinpointed 7 habits that I see in my young bilingual students that I think will help me, and other adult language learners in their strife to become bilingual.

  1. Brush off mistakes/embarrassment: I am not quite sure when in our lives it becomes embarrassing to make a mistake, but it is really a terrible habit we develop. With my kids, if they make a mistake with their grammar or pronunciation, it doesn't phase them at all, they just keep going. In reverse, when my inburgering teacher calls upon people to read the text out loud, I don't think I could make myself smaller in my seat. The don't call on me because there is this word I am unsure of how to pronounce mentality is a real antagonist to my ability to learn. What I and other adults need to realize is that no one is perfect 100% of the time, if we were there would be no reason to be in a class because we would already be fluent. Be proud of your mistakes, they mean you are actually learning. 
  2. Set apart time to learn: While I think that you should be open to learning your new language whenever it presents itself, having a set time that you know is dedicated to learning is really helpful. For example, my students know that when they see me, we will be speaking in English. We try to make it at the same time each week, that way the kids are already in the mindset that on Thursdays at noon, they can not play with their friends, they have their lessons. Conversely, I know when I have my inburgering lessons each week, but when I get to my homework is anyone's guess. I think that next week, I will have set study times for my homework, that way all of it will actually get done.
  3. Have a  designated place to learn: Each time I see my kids, we go to the same spot in their house to have our lessons, this is the same place they do their homework. Most of the time it is a dining room table. When I was in high school, my space was on the floor of my best friend Christy's bedroom. In college it was a local coffee shop. I do not do well at home, too many distractions. Here in Utrecht, I think I will try the beautiful Utrecht Centraal Library, since I have a love affair with the building anyway. My point is, find a place free of distractions to make it easier to learn. 
  4. Just do it: Children have teachers and parents to hold them accountable for their learning. As adults, we are accountable to ourselves, but sometimes having a partner in our learning can help.If that is not possible, then you are going to have to just grin and do it. No excuses, you have already set apart this time to learn. But at the same time...
  5. Know when you have hit a wall: With my students it is easy to tell when they have hit a wall. It is when they suddenly lose all interest in what we are doing. If you have read the same page four times and still are not comprehending it, it is time to try a new tactic.
  6. Try something else: When we are learning our first language, we watch movies, we sing songs, we read stories. Why do we not utilize the tools when trying to learn our second? When you have hit a wall with your grammar books, try doing something fun with the language. Watch a movie in the language, listen to local artists, it is good to remind yourself why you wanted to learn it.
  7. Don't get discouraged: This goes along with the mistakes thing, think about how long it took you to become really proficient in your language. Now compare that to how long you have been trying to learn your second. See, you are doing better than you thought. Keep it up!

Do you have any language learning tips?

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Yoda's Advice for Learning a Language.

A very wise, little green alien once said to a pupal learning an important lesson, “Do or do not, there is no try”. A valuable lesson for all, but especially for those trying to learn a new language. You have to work at it, otherwise you will never really become fluent.

So often, I find myself telling people that I am trying to learn to speak Nederlands. What I really mean by this is that, I study when I want to. I study when it is convenient for me, but I don’t devote near enough time to it as I should. Needless to say, I haven’t learned an impressive amount in the almost 5 months I have been here. According to an interview by Suitcase Entrepreneur of Benny from Fluent in 3 Months, most people have trouble learning a language because they are lazy about it. I can definitely see his point. I have been lazy, and my progress has suffered.

So how do I, and other language learners remedy this situation? Here are some of my ideas to get on track with language learning.

  • Have a clear, realistic goal in mind. My current goal is to finish the Rosetta Stone by June 1st, which means I need to do a lesson a day. About 2 ½ hours.
  • Have an hour reserved each day to devote to hearing/ speaking nothing but Dutch to my fiancee.
  • Spend an hour each day on grammar workbooks.
  • Have a defined daily schedule, keeping in mind the times that I know I am most productive. For me that is from 10am to 12:30 and again at 4:30.
  • Watch more Dutch films, people quote movies all the time, I might as well be quoting Dutch ones.
  • Have an accountability partner, someone who you won’t lie to that can hold you accountable for learning.
  • Treat my language learning like a job. I was always much better about showing up to work than I was to class. Since I don’t work, I will now treat learning Nederlands as my current career.

In case anyone was wondering, I did Level One, Unit Two, Lesson Two this morning.

Any language learners out there want to share their suggestion or tips for learning a new language?

 

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