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.

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!

February 2019 Language Goals: The Romance Month

February is the month of romance, therefore, I have decided to brush up on my Spanish. After my short break from language learning in December and January, as of February I plan to re-focus on Mandarin Chinese.

Don’t forget that 2019 is also the internal year of indigenous languages!

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

To help keep me motivated I’ll be posting my Chinese Mandarin and Spanish progress in the #15x100Challenge. It’s a motivational community aimed at a creating a more mindful approach to achieving goals by focusing on just 1 thing a day, for a minimum 15 minutes over a 100 day period.

My Language Goals for February

My goal for February is to reactivate my basic vocabulary of Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. I’ll be working through a beginners course on Memrise and completing my Duolingo tree in Spanish. I also plan to use simple crosswords and word search puzzle books to actively engage in reviewing vocabulary.

Memrise is a rather addictive resource and luckily I have found both a Spanish and Mandarin course that are well organised with audio throughout. This month I’ll also be boosting my vocabulary for free with LingoHut to get back on track with Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

Spanish

I want to get back to at least  B1 conversational level in Spanish and work towards my HSK level 1 in Mandarin… So that I can feel more confident when talking to native speakers. I am a false-beginner in both Spanish and Mandarin; having learnt the languages on and off over the last few years.  I have a basic understanding of the grammar and somewhere buried in the back of my head is an awesome vocabulary list that needs to be reawakened!

Public accountability of taking part in language challenges really helps my motivational levels and this year I plan to get involved in a few of them!

Scriveremo Publishing have a series of puzzle books that will help actively engage with the language learning materials and I’ll be using these to improve my Spanish.

Anglo-Romani, Gaelic and Irish

As it is the international year of Indigenous languages I don’t want to neglect our very own indigenous languages in the UK. So I plan to go back to my ancestral roots this month with Anglo-Romani (Romany Gypsy). As well as exploring Gaelic and Irish. I have created a Pinterest board for Anglo-Romani.

Chinese Mandarin 

Mandarin is the main language that I will be studying this year. Learning a foreign language isn’t easy. I feel the best way to truly learn is to actively speak and listen to the language as much as possible. Therefore I have booked a package on Italki so I can get as much tutoring in as possible. I plan on 2/45 minute tutorials a week.

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!

The Power of Accountability

Throughout February my Spanish and Mandarin study time will be held accountable by being in a language challenge and my desire to stay at the top of my Memrise and Duolingo leaderboards!  My public pledge to study a language for at least 15 minutes per day, everyday has certainly helped my motivational levels.

What languages are you studying this month and will you be taking part in the indigenous language challenge in 2019?


#CleartheList is a goal setting network of dedicated language learners. I have to say I really enjoy reading the other blogs and I am inspired deeply by the dedication of the #CleartheList community. I would like to say a big thank you to the hosts Lindsay (Lindsay Does Languages) and Shannon Kennedy (Eurolinguiste). The aim of Clear the List is to set and share your language learning goals for any given month and then obviously try your best to achieve them by the end of it!

Mandarin Resources that I’ll be using in February.