I have been learning Dutch as part of the Parleremo Language Marathon (#PLM) Challenge. The challenge is to learn a language for a minimum of 15 minutes per day, everyday, over a 100 day period. The challenge is hosted on it’s very own platform and not on social media. #PLM has access to lots of language related tools, resources and a super supportive community.
The hope for me is to ‘level up‘ my language skills within the 100 days going from an absolute beginner to an A2 CEFL Level in Dutch. Back in August, I was a complete beginner in Dutch. I have
Here are a few hurdles that I have faced whilst trying to learn how to speak Dutch…
The Pronunciation of the Dutch Alphabet!
Many letters of the alphabet are pronounced differently in Dutch than they are in English. For example, ‘A’ in English is pronounced ‘ay’ but in Dutch it is pronounced ‘ah’ and ‘E‘ is ‘ay‘. Being an English speaker my brain sees the letters and words and instantly tries to correct my pronunciation to English. I need to make new neuro connections that branch off from English and the only way to do this is through consistent practice.
|L||el||el||Y / IJ||why||aye|
The biggest challenge for me so far has been the pronunciation of the letter ‘G’! It is not a sound we tend to make in English! The Dutch ‘G’ sound originates in the throat prior to reaching the mouth – it’s almost as if I want to spit. To overcome this hurdle is going to undertake a heck load of practice.
I didn’t think this was so bad until I discovered that the Dutch have A LOT of words for you! Depending if it is formal, informal and plural. Then I discovered Zij could mean she or they depending on context! The formal ‘u‘ is pretty much like my teenagers informal ‘u‘ text speak.
|jij/je (Informal Singular)||you|
|u (Shirt and tie type formal)||you|
|hij, zij/ze, het||he, she, it|
|jullie (informally plural)||you|
Dutch Grammar Joys
Dutch grammar does not follow the same pattern as English. In English the sentence structure begins with the subject and is followed by a verb. An example of this is ‘I do not break the glasses’. With Dutch, the action typically precedes the subject with something a little like, ‘The glasses break not‘ To overcome this I just think “How would Yoda say it?”
Then there is the drama of ‘het‘, ‘de‘ or ‘een‘! Het and De mean ‘the‘, whilst ‘een‘ is the equivalent of the English a/an and not be confused with the number een that is pronounced differently! Don’t get me started on where to place the ‘niet‘, negative particle in a sentence.
Back to Front Numbers!
Did you spot the difference between the Dutch and English numbers? Ja, the second number in a double-digit number is always spoken first! Thanks to learning a little Slovenian a couple of years ago I am used to this way of numbering!
How am I over coming these hurdles?
PRACTICE + PRACTICE + PRACTICE
The Past 50 Days
I have been studying consistently every day using a range of resources. There wasn’t a Dutch Meetup group in my area so I have created a one!
This month I also became a Volunteer Global Ambassador for Duolingo. I am passionate about supporting Duolingo’s mission to bring free education to the world.
I’ll be hosting a range of free language learning events over the next 12 months in my local community. The first official Duolingo event will be in November, ‘The Dutch Language Club‘.
#Clearthelist: Goals for the Next 30 Days…
Daily – Recording myself speaking on Instagram and Parleremo.
Weekly – 1-2 hour weekly Dutch lessons or language exchanges.
Monthly – The Dutch Language Club (Monthly community meetups)
Daily – Listening to the radio or YouTube for about 10 minutes per day. Parleremo has a great collection of resources that are freely available to use.
Weekly – Checking out Netflix and YouTube to watch some shows.
Daily – Start making regular social media posts in Dutch. Some of my posts are in part English/Part Dutch at the moment.
Weekly – Throughout November I would like to make regular journal articles in Dutch on Parleremo.
Although Dutch is my priority language I will also be exploring some languages indigenous to the UK.
For the next mini-marathon I’ll be doing a short Scots Project. You can follow my progress with Scots here…
I will continue to check out some Irish Gaelic on Duolingo.
Obstacles aside I love the Dutch language, thankfully as my focus is more
I look forward to using the language when I visit Holland and Belgium (Flemish) in the new year. I still have a long way to go. I’m not sure at this point if I’ll hit my target of Absolute beginner (A0) to a talkative A2 and confident reader in 100 days, but what I have achieved so far is a comfortable A1 level.
At the end of the Parleremo Language Marathon Challenge I hope to do a 10 minute Facebook LIVE completely in Dutch!
If you have any tips about how you overcame any obstacles when learning Dutch OR recommended resources/Dutch blogs/articles please post a link to them in the comments section below.