Learning Dutch in 100 Days Project: The Midway Mark!

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 learnt a number of languages over the years, but I have to say that for me Dutch has not been an easy language to learn! In fact, I found Mandarin Chinese easier to learn!

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.

EnglishDutchEnglishDutch
AehahNenen
BbeebayOohoh
CseeseePpeepay
DdeedeeQcuecoo
EeeayRarerrrl
FefefSeses
GgeehayTteetay
HeychhaUyouooh
IeyeeeVveefey
JjayyeeWdouble-youvay
KkaykaXexicks
LelelY / IJwhyaye
MememZzeezed

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.

Problematic Pronouns

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, hethe, she, it
jullie (informally plural)you
zij/zethey

Further Reading: Learning Flemish Dutch in 100 Days Learning Dutch in 100 Days Project: In the Beginning

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!

0nul
1een
2twee
3drie
4vier
5vijf
6zes
7zeven
8acht
9negen
10tien
11elf
12twaalf
13dertien
14veertien
15vijftien
16zestien
17zeventien
18achttien
19negentien
20twintig
21eenentwintig
22tweeëntwintig
30dertig
40veertig
50vijftig
60zestig
70zeventig
80tachtig
90negentig
100honderd

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…

For anyone new to Clear the List, each month the awesomeness that is Lindsay Williams and Shannon Kennedy host a language blogging goal setting community called ‘Clear the List’.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Speaking

Daily – Recording myself speaking on Instagram and Parleremo.

Weekly – 1-2 hour weekly Dutch lessons or language exchanges.

MonthlyThe Dutch Language Club (Monthly community meetups)

Listening

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.

Reading

Daily – Maintain my Duolingo streak – 15 minutes per day. Now I am feeling slightly more confident with Dutch check out Clozemaster. Read some blogs and online news articles.

Weekly – Re-take some older Duolingo lessons, Use the UTalk app and Learn Dutch.org flashcard app to brush up on vocabulary.

Writing

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.

Other

Although Dutch is my priority language I will also be exploring some languages indigenous to the UK.

Scots

For the next mini-marathon I’ll be doing a short Scots Project. You can follow my progress with Scots here…

Irish Gaelic

I will continue to check out some Irish Gaelic on Duolingo.

In Summary…

Obstacles aside I love the Dutch language, thankfully as my focus is more Flemish Dutch the dreaded ‘G‘ sound is softer. Breakthrough moments have included understanding basic texts and conversations, finally getting a green (after about 20+ red crosses and dings) on Rosetta Stone for my pronunciation of the letter G. Those that have been following my progress have felt my pain!

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.

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The Mindful Language Learner

Trisha, is the founder of Language Learners Journal.com. An award-winning blog dedicated to empowering and promoting a more mindful approach to independent language learning and teaching across the UK and beyond. Trisha has a professional and academic background in psychology and well-being. She has been practicing mindfulness for over 20 years and has professionally taught CBT-based mindfulness for the past 7 years. You can follow Trisha on her official Facebook Page, Instagram or Twitter accounts to discover how to apply simply mindfulness practices and scientifically proven strategies to your language learning...

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