Learning Flemish Dutch in 100 Days

Trisha founder of
Language Learners Journal

Hallo there, starting in September my next language project will be learning Flemish-Dutch in 100 days!

Dutch is spoken by around 23 million people. It is a Germanic language at the heart of Europe. Spoken in the Netherlands (Holland) and Belgium. Flemish is the Belgian variant of Dutch and is spoken by over 5 million people in Belguim and parts of France!

Over the last few years, I’ve undertaken a number of language projects including…

  • Icelandic Basics in 28 Days – (Success).
  • Exploring Scots in 28 Days – (Failed).
  • Spanish in 90 days – with the goal of having a 15-minute conversation with a native speaker. I managed 20 minutes PLUS a Facebook LIVE! (Success – goal smashed).
  • A Year of Mandarin 2019 – I’ve had a 15-minute conversation, but the ultimate goal is for 30 minutes of conversation time!

During each challenge, I’ve documented my personal language learning journey on social media to inspire and (hopefully) help motivate other language learners. Plus to share the resources I have used.

For this challenge I want to demonstrate…

  • What you can achieve in just a minimum of 15-30 minutes consistent study a day over 100 day period.
  • Prove that you don’t need to move to a country to learn the language!
  • Demonstrate that you can learn a language independently and without breaking the piggy bank.

Why Learn Dutch?

Bruges, Belgium. Photography by Simon Dunbar.

More often then not English is spoken better in Europe than by UK natives! So if that is the case why bother!?

During my last trip to Belgium just saying things like please and thank you seemed to earn me the respect of the locals and they appreciated me trying.

As Holland and Belgium are my favourite places to visit I’ve been feeling for some time now that learning Dutch would be of great benefit to me – even if it’s just to read the menu without a double take.

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The Goal: To learn to speak and read in Dutch to A2/B1 cusp level within 100 days, so I can have conversations with the people I meet – in Dutch – and make sense of the menus!

The Starting Line…

Currently, I am an absolute beginner in Dutch, but I’ll aspire to a B1 ‘cusp’ level within 100 days. Given my native language and knowledge of other Germanic languages, I feel this is challenging, but not unrealistic.

Goal setting is really important in language learning and I will have a plan in place because ‘you will never reach you destination if you don’t know where you are going‘!

Further Reading: Dutch in 100 Days Project – In the Beginning… * Dutch in 100 Days Project – The Midway Mark

The Plan?

Bruges, Belgium. Photography by Simon Dunbar.

To set aside a minimum of 15-30 minutes of consistent study time per week for the next 100 days. I’ll spend the first 10 days listening to materials and building vocabulary. Then I will move on to reading and writing before speaking.

I’ll be documenting the whole thing via my blog and on social media and post updates every 25 days. I’ll be working in blocks of 25 days.

Prep Week

To take a placement test to determine my current level of Dutch (done). To learn 1000 most common words in Dutch and complete the mini-review tests and exams. Then retake the placement test to see what progress I have made.

Block 1 : Greetings and Survival Phrases

  • The input method through audiobooks, podcasts, and vocabulary builders.
  • Work through the ‘Learn Dutch’ modules.
  • 15-30 minutes study per day.

Block 2: Dutch Grammar and Reading

  • Start to speak and read in Dutch.
  • Continue to work through the ‘Learn Dutch’ modules.
  • Increase study time to 30-45 minutes per day.

Block 3 : Getting Conversational

  • Book some lessons with professional tutors.
  • Find a Dutch-speaking study buddy to speak with!
  • Continue with the input method.

Block 4: Wild Card and Final Review

  • At the end of my ‘Dutch in 100 Days Project’, I’ll be doing a Facebook LIVE in Dutch!

Resources For This Project

Bruges, Belgium. Photography by Simon Dunbar.

I’ll be using all of the resources on Parleremo. This free language learning platform is packed with useful tools and materials. This will mean that I do not need to waste time searching the web.

I’ll also be taking part in the Parleremo Language Marathon to help keep me motivated whilst learning Dutch. Many challenges tend to use Facebook Groups, but what I like about this challenge is that it is hosted on the Parleremo platform. It has a wide range of tools and resources in 35+ different languages to help build a consistent study routine within a very supportive language learning community!

I have invested in the Dutch in Three Months Course from DK and the Lonely Plant Dutch Phrasebook, which is available on Amazon.

UTalk is one of another one of my favorite resources for learning languages. It uses verbal, visual and fun exercises to teach languages. A fabulous free alternative to this is LingoHut.

Not to forget that I’ll be using Duolingo and Memrise to build my vocabulary.

Finally I’ll be checking out the Learn Dutch course and Dutch Pod 101

If you want to follow my progress…

Like my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter / Instagram

Please leave me your comments below, as I’m very keen to hear from you about this project and any resource recommendations!

A Year of Chinese Mandarin…

This year Language learners Journal Founder Trisha Dunbar will be focusing on Chinese Mandarin. Although there are a number of different Chinese dialects including Cantonese and Shanghaiese. Mandarin is the most spoken language in the would with 1,000,000,000+ speakers and rising. It forms part of the Sino-Tibetan language family.

Full transparency: From time-to-time we do use affiliate links for paid products on this site. This means Language Learners Journal gets a small commission for some (not all) referrals. It doesn’t affect the price of anything but doing so has helped to maintain, improve and keep this site ad-free for over 3 years. We appreciate the support, thank you.

Photo by David Besh on Pexels.com

Learning Chinese Mandarin means that you will be using both the right and left sides of the brain!

The language has four tones, plus a neutral one. Getting the tones right is an important factor…

… it can make all the difference between referring to your mother as a or ( – meaning a horse)!

A language without an alphabet!

Chinese has no alphabet! It is made up of a series of characters.

To help western society better understand there is the Pinyin system. This helps to spell out the sounds of Chinese using Roman letters. It is used as a helpful written aid to guide Chinese pronunciation.

You can follow Trisha’s journey from a false beginner to HSK 2 and beyond on Twitter and Facebook or Check the Mandarin Board on Pinterest.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

10 reasons to learn Mandarin Chinese

  1. Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world. If you can speak it then you can communicate with nearly a billion people worldwide!
  2. China is an economic superpower and a major trade point.
  3. China has a fascinating and rich history and culture.
  4. It is easier than you think! There are no verbs, plurals, tenses, subject-verb agreement, OR conjugations.
  5. Chinese could be regarded as one of the most logical languages in the world!
  6. Speaking and reading in Mandarin Chinese is a great workout for the brain as it uses both the left and right hemispheres!
  7. The Chinese love to hear Westerns ‘attempt’ to speak their language and can be very supportive in helping you learn.
  8. Traveling or doing business abroad? As well as China, Mandarin is spoken in countries such as Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Philippines and Mongolia.
  9. Make new friends! Learning Mandarin gives you access to communicate with many people and connect on a deeper level, not just in Asia but across the world! Almost every major Western city has a growing Chinese community within it. Being able to communicate with those in your neighborhood and exchange students at your local university will help to connect communities, as well as foster lifelong friendships.
  10. Self-development. Being proficient in Mandarin will certainly boost your CV and make you stand out among against the many other applicants. Even if you don’t actively need the language for work it shows that you have commitment, focus and an understanding of another culture.

Recommended Resources

Here are my most highly recommended resources for learning Mandarin Chinese. The resources below have played a crucial role to my own learning of this beautiful language.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step;  Chinese: 千里之行,始於足下; pinyin: Qiānlǐ zhī xíng, shǐyú zú xià.”

Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

Italki – is an excellent resource and one that I regularly use to help me learn languages via Skype lessons. These lessons offer flexibility that fits perfectly into my busy lifestyle. Lessons can vary in price but start from about $5 for a 30 minute session. Register using this link to receive an additional $10 in credits after you have complete your first paid lesson!

uTalkuTalk is one my favourite resources for learning languages. It uses verbal, visual and fun exercises to teach languages increases your chance of success. Their tried and tested products work by stimulating both sides of the brain at the same time – the visual memory (right brain) and verbal (left side). This dual-coding improves recall and learning dramatically. Adding fun to the mix helps release the neurotransmitter chemical dopamine which keeps you motivated and improves memory recall. A fabulous free alternative is LingoHut.

Easy Peasy Chinese –This book and audio CD (Amazon) is a fabulous resource for beginners and will help you get to grips with speaking, writing and understanding the basics of the language in no time.

The Chineasy Range – An excellent resource for visual language learners. From books to flashcards and even board games. I have used this range to teach my own family Chinese. check out the full range on Amazon.

HelloChinese – Learn Chinese via this awesome app which is similar to Duolingo. There is a paid element, but the free content will enable you to grasp the basics via gamification methods. Although I don’t recommend using this app alone as it is not a replacement for real conversations. It is however a welcome and fun boost to vocabulary and learning the sounds of Chinese.

Learning Chinese? Let us know in the comments section below what resources you are currently using.

Photo by jss falconi on Pexels.com

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Thanks for visiting Language Learners Journal! If you have enjoyed this article please share it and inspire your friends and family to learn Chinese.

#AYearofMandarin

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65 Inspiring challenge ideas to improve your life…

You can make a massive difference to your life without having to spend lots of money in only 15 minutes per day for 100 days. This post presents you with 65 challenge ideas to inspire your life.

65 15 minutes x 100 day inspiring challenge ideas…

1. Learn a foreign language by practicing for as little as 15 minutes per day for the next 100 days.

2. Give a compliment everyday for the next 100 days.

3. Draw or paint a picture everyday for the next 100 days and build a portfolio.

4. Write in a journal for the next 100 days.

5. Exercise daily – doesn’t mean joining a gym!

6. *Give up alcohol for 100 days and research ways to detox.

7. Give up watching TV for 100 days and use the extra time to find a new hobby.

8. Listen to a different song everyday for 100 days.

9. Spend 3 – 15 minutes just focusing on your breath every day!

10. Take time out each day to observe your thoughts without judgement and note your mood.

11. Take a photograph & add some effects to it… every day for the next 100 days.

12. Work on writing a story or song 15 minutes per day for 100 days.

13. Grow your vocab – learn a new word a day!

14. Teach others something new every day.

15. Think of your worst habit that you’ve been meaning to ditch and work on giving it up over the next 100 days.

16. Do some gentle stretching exercises for 15 minutes everyday for the next 100 days.

17. Do some yoga everyday for the next 100 days.

18. Read an inspirational and motivational blog a day…extra kudos if it is in a language you are learning!

19. Write a blog post everyday for the next 100 days!

20. Spend 15 minutes a day repeating positive affirmations and practicing positive thinking.

21. Keep a laughter journal. Write down one thing a day that really made you laugh.

22. Work on those abs – Do 50 sit-ups a day.

23. Scribble or write some quotes on the back of a postcard everyday for the next 100 days.

24. Prepare or cook something healthy everyday for the next 100 days.

25. Cycle for at least 15 minutes everyday for the next 100 days.

26. Keep a worry journal, rate worries from 1 – 10 and write a solution for the main worries. Notice any patterns occurring? Note these down too, along with an action plan.

27. Write and reflect upon a gratitude list for the next 100 days.

28. What have you always wanted to do but never have? Write a bucket list and spend the next 100 days completing as many items from it as possible. #BucketList

29. Take up knitting or crochet. Random I know, but knit or crochet an item a day! Post your creations on Instagram or Pinterest with the hastag #15x100Challenge for extra credit and as a record of progress being made.

30. Don’t bitch OR moan or saying ANYTHING negative about people for the next 100 days!

31. Live on a really strict budget for the next 100 days and save some money!

32. Wake up at 5am to do 15 minutes meditation every morning for the next 100 days.

33. Spend 15 minutes every morning playing devils advocate with yourself to challenge your own beliefs.

34. Face a fear!  Push yourself out of your comfort zone and work on a phobia for the next 100 days.

35. Spend 15 minutes learning to love yourself.

36. Learn a new magic trick everyday for the next 100 days.

37. Plant a flower a day — in your garden or at random places.

38. Write a motivational quote on a sticky note everyday for you guessed it the next 100 days and pop them in random places, such as in library books or on trees!

39. Business owner? Work on your social media marketing for at least 15 minutes per day everyday for the next 100 days.

40. Get you and your friends to write down cool ideas for things to do and put them in a hat and pull out a different thing each day for the next 100 days.

41. Can’t draw? Then practice every day for the next 100 days record your progress in a sketchbook and post on Instagram, prepare to be amazed with the results!

42. Learn to play an instrument in 100 day, i.e. the ukulele, flute, guitar…

43.*Stop smoking over the next 100 days. If you need some support check out this awesome NHS site. #SmokeFree.

44. Learn something new over the next 100 days…

45. Make a patchwork quilt in 100 days.

46. Research a different culture, religion or philosophy every day for the next 100 days.

47. Read about a different period of history every day.

48. Do one thing each day that makes you feel inspired.

49. Revamp your house in 100 days.

50. Deep clean, sort and tidy your home by focusing on one small area everyday for the next 100 days.

51. Spend at least 15 minutes in nature whether it’s your garden, a park, the countryside or the beach.

52. Go caffeine free for 100 days.

53. Ditch social media sites for 100 days, or limit yourself to just 15 minutes per day.

54. Spend 100 days as a vegetarian or vegan

55. Do at least 1 random act of kindness everyday.

56. Visit a new website everyday.

57. Read a chapter of a book. Finished the whole book then start a new chapter of a new book!

58. Ditch your car and walk.

59. Be positive for 100 days straight even if things go wrong, focus only on the positives.

60. Change sleeping patterns i.e. go to bed earlier or wake up earlier and stick to those times EVERYDAY for 100 days (even weekends).

61. Spend 100 days fundraising for a charity or promoting a good cause.

62. Grow those brain cells… Do a brain training puzzle everyday,  like sudoku, crosswords or  Lumosity puzzles for 15 minutes per day, everyday for the next 100 days.

63. Reflect upon and write down something you love about your partner or a close family member every day and give them the list after your 100 day challenge.

64. Read or write a poem a day.

65. Dance or sing everyday — whether you’re good at it or not.

BONUS. DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for 15 minutes, everyday for the next 100 days!

Thank you for reading this post. I wish you all the best with whatever challenge you decide to do over the next 100 days. If you decide to try out any of the challenges mentioned then please keep in touch or share your progress on social media with the hashtag #15x100Challenge.  I’d love to hear how you get on.

On Twitter? Why not hold yourself publicly accountable and Tweet about the challenge you would like to do!

Don’t forget to like our brand new Facebook Page and join our free supportive Self-Development Hub to help keep you motivated and disciplined during the challenge.

If you have any ideas not on the list please let me know in the comments section below.


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