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Thread: Learning Dutch

  1. #1
    Master Filterlab's Avatar
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    Learning Dutch

    I plan to be spending a lot of time in Holland due to the new businesses I’m involved in (and that there are fantastic coffee shops in Amsterdam of course) so I thought I’d learn to speak Dutch. I have a smattering of French from my school days, but I’d hardly call myself bilingual.

    Searching on the web brings a bewildering array of options that all seem to be ‘proved to be the best’, so I was wondering if any of you fine fellows have learned a second language successfully, and what method worked.

    I’m mid-40s so my capacity to learn ain’t that of a school kid!

    Cheers good sirs!

  2. #2
    Craftsman
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    Good luck. It’s a great language and a great country to be in.

    I picked up the basics from the locals, wish I had done it properly !

  3. #3
    Craftsman
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    Try the Duolingo app if compatible with your phone. My daughter started using it for her French lessons when she was 5 and she could probably pass her GCSE now. She’s nearly nine!


    Sent from my iPhone using TZ-UK mobile app

  4. #4
    Master
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    Whenever we sent people there at my firm we sent them to ‘The Nuns’

  5. #5
    Master blackal's Avatar
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    Wooden shoes

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    Wooden Listen...........

    (or so they say.......)

  6. #6
    Grand Master GraniteQuarry's Avatar
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    Best formal online/app I've used is ***pod101 in your case dutchpod101.com. The phone app is handy for a quick 15 mins whilst sitting on the throne

    The audio from Michel Thomas is pretty good too, kinda laid back style but work well.

  7. #7
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chalet View Post
    Whenever we sent people there at my firm we sent them to ‘The Nuns’
    This ^
    If you’re serious about learning a language, you’ll struggle to find better than the nuns of Vught.
    'Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain' - Schiller.

  8. #8
    Master Caruso's Avatar
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    In my experience most dutch people speak better english than the average english person!

    Still worth doing if you want to immerse yourself in the culture, but maybe not necessary for business reasons?

  9. #9
    Craftsman
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    There is an app called Mem rise which is quite good.

    Just bear in mind that there are also a lot of Flemish speakers there depending on what area your visiting. I have travelled abit for work across The Netherlands and can’t remember coming across anyone who can’t speak English.

  10. #10
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Paging dkpw

  11. #11
    Master thieuster's Avatar
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    'Vught', 'nuns' refers to this institute: https://www.reginacoeli.com

    It costs a lot of money but -as a teacher of the Dutch language for almost 40 yrs- there's nothing better than that!

    Point is that most Dutch people are more than willing to change to English when they notice that it's easier for you to communicate in English! (Be sure that we're not that easy-going with Germans and people from France... not good perhaps, but it's reality). Try to make sure that you're in a Dutch environment as much as possible - that will be difficult; even big Dutch companies have a lot of employees who only speak English, so the language in the offices and restaurant is... English. That makes it harder to learn Dutch.

    Best you can do is join a club like a soccer club or similar where you need to talk Dutch.

    PM me if you want additional info or tips.

    Menno

  12. #12
    Master Filterlab's Avatar
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    Thanks good sirs. The Duolingo seems very good, I’ll give that a go.

    I’m not learning for business reasons, I’m learning because I want to move there! I just happen to be spending more time there due to business, which is nice.

    Now, these Nuns sound interesting. 🤣

  13. #13
    Master robcuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caruso View Post
    In my experience most dutch people speak better english than the average english person!

    Still worth doing if you want to immerse yourself in the culture, but maybe not necessary for business reasons?
    Yes, necessary, otherwise you’ll soon discover that there are two levels to any Dutch Business Conversation/Negotiation!

  14. #14
    Master robcuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filterlab View Post
    Thanks good sirs. The Duolingo seems very good, I’ll give that a go.

    I’m not learning for business reasons, I’m learning because I want to move there! I just happen to be spending more time there due to business, which is nice.

    Now, these Nuns sound interesting. 藍
    we moved last December, I’m doing the Duolingo everyday and apparently can understand(!) 457 words :-)

    My problem is the reversal of sentences, but I’m learning if you speak English like Yoda you will, once translated to Dutch , usually get the context right (making a question instead of making a statement (ie ‘Do you speak English?’, if said properly, gets a better result than ‘Speak English? , the first usually leads to “I’ll try, how can I help you?’ the second to ‘Of course, don’t you speak Dutch?’).

  15. #15
    Master thieuster's Avatar
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    Two levels of communication... interesting. I think I can learn something here. Tell me more!

    That Yoda-stuff is an interesting observation. An example: In English, the rule is 'Place before Time'. In Dutch you can safely put it the other way around, it doesn't matter. It must sound Yoda-like for English speaking people. For us, it's normal.

    Then there's the translation of the word 'you'. We translate this in 'u' or 'je'. There's a very thin, hardly explainable difference between those words. But used wrongly, with great consequences! 'U' is used when you address people you've never met before, elderly people, official people like your GP, a police officer etc. Children say 'u' to everybody - even sometimes their parents. But that's oldfashioned. 'Je' is used for friends, colleagues of the same level, people in the gym etc. But then again, I always start with 'u' if I talk to people I've never met. Even the cashier-person in the supermarket. It's simply polite to use 'u'. Using 'je' addressing the wrong person it can end with (translate): "I can't remember that we ever played in the sandbox when we were kids; I'm not your friend!"

    Tip: use 'u' when you're thinking of ending the sentence with 'sir', 'madam'.

    Menno
    Last edited by thieuster; 31st August 2019 at 22:35.

  16. #16
    Grand Master VDG's Avatar
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    Dutch GF, those rolling off the tongue deep reverberating Rs, oh mama
    Fas est ab hoste doceri

  17. #17
    I've been learning Swedish using Duolingo.

    I've used it for 10 minutes every day for just over 3 years. I can now make sense of most newspapers (I try & take a look at Expressen.se on the web most days) and follow spoken Swedish on TV. The secret (such as there is) is doing small amounts very regularly. If I were in a Swedish speaking environment I reckon I'd be much further ahead tho'.

    My attempts at speaking it will make most Swedes switch to English after 5 minutes or so, but I've had huge fun learning it. I've really gained an appreciation of many things Swede and Im planning to attend a work-related conference in Uppsala in November where a lot of the sessions will be in Swedish

    I really can recommend Duolingo. I find it very accessible, and it's free.

    Im very slowly picking up some German and Italian too. I might get round to some Dutch just to annoy my Dutch colleagues.

  18. #18
    Master Filterlab's Avatar
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    Thanks again sirs! It seems that English is reversed when compared to a lot of languages, Yoda certainly was wise. 😅

  19. #19
    Grand Master Seamaster73's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caruso View Post
    In my experience most dutch people speak better english than the average english person!
    I worked for a Dutch company in the late nineties, and that was certainly my experience. The Dutch speak English with a style that very few second language speakers acquire. For example, they effortlessly get jokes that hinge on very specific words. I recall a Dutch colleague of mine roaring with laughter at the old joke about the virtuoso piano-playing cat who slams the lid down and flees the room at the suggestion of being orchestrated.

    English is very much the language of business in Holland. I was often told not to bother even trying to learn Dutch as it was supposedly so difficult for English speakers to master. That said, a mate of mine who lives over there has become fluent in it, so where there’s a will...

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Seamaster73 View Post
    I was often told not to bother even trying to learn Dutch as it was supposedly so difficult for English speakers to master. That said, a mate of mine who lives over there has become fluent in it, so where there’s a will...
    That's interesting. One thing I've noticed with Swedish is that the word order is very often the same as in English - and when it isn't, the word order matches a very old fashioned English phrasing instead. Also a lot of the words are also similar to an English equivalent. The tough part is the pronunciation: doing it and listening to it.

    I'm guessing that the non-romance European languages (Dutch, Scandinavian - but not Finnish - Welsh, Irish etc) often use the subject-verb-object form rather than the Romance S-O-V, and Dutch especially seems to share a lot of the Germanic origin vocabulary. Im guessing the actual speaking in / listening to Dutch is what's trickiest?

  21. #21
    Master thieuster's Avatar
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    Yes, it is S-V-O and V and S change place when there's a question mark at the end. One of the more difficult things is writing and conjugating verbs. Especially that one! We have more irregular verbs than English language. Most are 'ancient' and replaced for a regular one; a so-called 'feeble (or poor) verb', next to a 'strong regular verb'. That's something I cannot translate or explain in one sentence because there's no such thing in English. Finally, the translation for 'the'... It's eighter 'de' or 'het'. Every born-and-bred Dutchie knows when to use the correct word 'de' or 'het'. Even new invented words are easily recognisable for us. People with a background in English tell me that it's very hard to learn. My wife, from Canada, is 99% fluent in Dutch. In word, writing etc. The missing 1% is the ongoing mix-up of 'de' and 'het'...

    Speaking is difficult, according to people learning Dutch; we have letter-combinations that make your hair curl: like 'herftsstorm' (autumn storm), Scheveningen (town) and 's Hertogenbosch (the ' in 's needs to be in front of the long word...).

    On the other hand, just try it. We appreciate your attempt and most people are patient enough to wait and help. Especially when you make clear that you don't want to change into English, simply because you want to learn the language. That's exactly why we get along with English speaking people and -let's say- from Germany and France: simply because they won't try.

    Latest is that in many cafés in Amsterdam and The Hague, the waiters speak English and don't speak Dutch. I refuse to be served in a Dutch restaurant or café where the waiter/waitress is unable to speak Dutch. I leave. Especially The Hague is filled with expats who only speak English and try to avoid any other language-speaking people. Not the place where you can Dutch...

  22. #22
    I'm probably one of a very few who has actually spent the time learning Dutch to a pretty decent standard. So I will try and briefly outline my experience and issues.

    First up - if you're living in a bigger city in the Randstad it will be hard. I started learning up in Groningen, though a University town, it was still quite 'Dutch' back 8-9 years ago! I was also very fortunate to have a 1 to 1 teacher (paid for by my company at the time) and that helped immensely. I suggest doing that for a couple of sessions a week if you can. The alternative if you can afford the time is the 2 week intensive crash courses - I know a lot of people who felt that was brilliant.

    Secondly - as mentioned above, get yourself immersed in a 'Dutch' environment. Easier said than done however. My advice - find a sports club or a social event. Im my case it was dancing! Classes all in Dutch, very few foreigners and my dance partners helped out by refusing to speak to me in English! In the Randstad these are mostly done in English sadly.

    Lastly - don't beat yourself up, it will take time as it isn't a country you can fully immerse yourself. I lived in NL for 10 years, only returning back to the UK last year. It took me 2.5 years into my life there to actually begin learning. And by the end, I could work in Dutch if needed, but I haven't needed to. But I can say go watch a show in Dutch, a talk or other random events and not really worry too much. Worst case scenario I understand 70-75%. And if chat gets too political it gets a bit too much for me to concentrate. The other thing I really struggle with is idioms, I just don't get them!

    But do stick with it, the Dutch really appreciate it and it helps to no end understanding some Dutchisms! Plus you encounter Dutch people everywhere outside of Holland and always fun to have a chat with them. My Dutch has suffered somewhat since leaving, but I reckon I can turn it back on if needed!

  23. #23
    Grand Master
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    Get yourself a Dutch gf. and ask her and her friends to nót speak english.

    Watch tv with Dutch subtitles (for the hearing impaired).



    @Thieuster; Wé, as in mý family, had/have no such qualms. Neither had/has my best friend and family. Also; being Francophile is quite extensive in the Netherlands.


    @Bristolian; Dutch has Indo-´Germanic´roots but is a bit odd in relatively isolated development. The inhospitable marshes have seen very little influx of newcomers after the first settlement. Even the wave of agriculture was a special case very unlike elsewhere, taking several thousands of years to achieve permanent foothold. As such the language has retained many of its roots. It is quite fun to read ´Old Dutch´. It was the same language the Franks spoke when they crossed the rivers westwards and went on to conquer (now) France, establish the Holy Roman Empire et al. losing the Dutch completely. Very early Frankish laws about freeman per example are intelligeble ´Dutch´. If anything that is baffling.
    In a nutshell Dutch has remained relatively original because the country was simply not worth the effort conquering.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  24. #24
    Master Mark020's Avatar
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    It is not easy to learn to speak Dutch because people will start speaking to you in English when they hear you talk. So: if you don't plan to stay long don't bother (although we appreciate it). I live downtown Amsterdam and a lot of places now have waiters who can't speak Dutch anyway. And when I worked at a large Dutch bank we often had meetings in English because one Irish guy (with a Dutch wife (!)) did not speak Dutch....
    Last edited by Mark020; 3rd September 2019 at 09:47.

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