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!
Here are 5 obstacles that I have faced whilst trying to learn how to speak Dutch…
The Dutch Alphabet Pronunciation
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 spoken first! Thanks to learning a little Slovenian a couple of years ago I am use to this way of numbering!
Random Filler Words
Filler words such as hoor, maar and er are great they can make you seem more fluent as you bulk out sentences that were originally Tarzen like. However, these filler words can also drastically change the meaning of a sentence based on the context it is used! Similar really to if you get your tones wrong in Mandarin Chinese ‘Ma‘ could mean ‘mother‘ or ‘horse‘. Therefore using filler words in the wrong places could be the difference between a compliment or an insult! You have been warned…
Goals for the next 30 Days…
Daily – Recording myself speaking on Instagram and Parleremo.
Weekly – 1-2 hour weekly Dutch lessons or language exchanges.
Daily – Listening to the radio or YouTube for about 10 minutes per day.
Weekly – Checking out Netflix to watch some shows.
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 Flash card app to brush up on vocabulary.
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.
I plan to continue with the Vocabooster Scots course.
Checking out Irish Gaelic just on Duolingo at the moment.
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, 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). 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.