|A giant shoe.|
Een grote schoen.
Those words that you use daily are the words that you ought to learn first when learning a new language. And it's simple to do because there are so many free things that you can use to help you learn. It all can be found online, in children's books at the library, English-speaking television programming [use those Dutch subtitles to your advantage!]... Or, yes, even you can learn Dutch from what you see in your junk mail.
My friend has bought for herself a 2-CD Spanish language program as well. Anything that helps is great, but when you buy one of those self-taught language courses they typically share with you what a tourist needs to know, like how to ask your hotel concierge for more towels, what your passport is called in the language, or how to ask for the bill at a restaurant. They don't typically teach you how to ask the butcher for a specific cut of meat or how to ask the store clerk if they have more stock of a sale item in the stockroom, and those are the types of things which you need to know on a daily basis when living in a foreign country. Try to find self-taught language learning kits that cover the essentials of everyday living.
Confidence is also important when learning a new language because most likely you will be out on your own doing some shopping or needing to meet with a friend at a cafe for coffee, sitting alone at the table until they show up. This confidence comes with time for most and it will improve after some practice.
Here is how I went about it all when I first began to learn Dutch:
- With any new language you're learning, first think about learning those things which are around you daily [e.g. objects in a room where you're sitting often like furniture and structural things like the walls, clothing you wear, your body, items around you at your job or in your car]. Focusing on these words first helped me to learn the words quicker, and I now think of those words as just more words in my existing vocabulary. For instance, a bath towel is also automatically a “baddoek” when I think of what it is. Similarly, if I were to describe a delicious piece of candy, I'd call it yummy, delectable, tasty, heerlijk or lekker. For me somehow this thought pattern has helped me remember even the most unused words in my vocab, such as kale = boerenkool.
This is a chalkboard or a sidewalk sign.
Dutch: Krijtbord or a stoepbord.
The bakery listed here apple bread, raisin bread and sugar bread.
- Try as often as you can daily to use these new words in a sentence in the new language that you're learning. This will help you to learn how to form sentences as well, and you will begin to do so automatically after some practice. For example, if you want to tell someone that you have no money: “Ik heb geen geld.” If you want to tell someone that you need money: “Ik heb geld nodig.” I remember the first time I had to put a sentence together, to ask where the clean linens/bedding were for the beds because I needed clean sheets and pillowcases. Before I went downstairs to ask, I sat down in the bedroom with my English/Dutch dictionary and wrote out “I need fitted sheets and pillowcases” = “Ik heb hoeslaken en kussenslopen nodig.” Then I went downstairs and asked this in my best pronunciation of Dutch. That was very basic... The more complex sentences will come after time to you, so stick to the basics at the beginning. Heck, I didn't even know yet how to ask for “clean” bedding, but my point was understood and that was what mattered most.*
- Use it all as often as possible. Totally immerse yourself into it for about an hour each day with a native speaker. I know it will feel weird if it's your partner and you typically speak to each other in English, but explain to your partner that their automatic knowledge of the language will dramatically help you to be able to express yourself to others with more confidence if you can speak with them in their language with confidence as well. This was something that I didn't emphasize enough while I was living in the Netherlands, which was a mistake that I think a lot of us make. We're relaxed and comfortable speaking English with our partner at home because it's easier to express what we want to say, but who better to practice the language skills with than with someone who you can rely on and trust the most. You only need to do it for a small portion of the day anyway, so at least give it a try for a few weeks before giving up on the idea.
- Another daily tip to help you learn a language: While you're out shopping, your partner or friend can point out all of the things that he/she doesn't like about the items that they see in a store. This can help you to understand how to express your dislike for something with not only the same language but also the same mannerisms of a Dutch person. It will also help you to better understand how the Dutch think and therefore why they use the language that they're using, versus how an American would express their dislike for something and how they'd speak about it [it definitely can be different!]. While the Dutch shop, they tend to express their thoughts very often. You'll hear them saying things like:
“Ik vind dat niet mooi.” [I don't think that's pretty/I don't like it]
“Dat is veel te duur!” [That's too expensive!]
“Wat een leuke trui, zeg!” [What a nice sweater!]
- Learn what to ask the butcher or the fish monger when you go shopping, or learn how to ask the waitress for more coffee, and then use this as often as you can without reverting back to English. If you're shopping with a friend or your partner, step up and be the one to order. Keep it simple for yourself too. If you want to ask the butcher for 2 kilos of minced beef/ground beef, learn that the easiest way in Dutch to say this is “Mag ik twee kilo gehakt [beefstuk]?” [May I have 2 kilos minced/ground beef?]. After they've bagged the 2 kilos of meat for you, they'll likely ask if you'd like anything more: “Wilt u nog wat/iets?” [Would you like something else?] If no, then say “Nee, dat was het.” [No, that's it.] If they can't understand you, tell them you're learning and practicing Dutch “Ik probeer Nederlands te leren.” Hopefully they'll help you out with it a bit. If not, don't feel offended. They obviously don't get what it feels like to learn a new language while living among it. If you continue doing this as often as possible, your confidence in speaking the language [and your confidence in going out in public in general] will grow immensely. After a few months of visiting the same fish monger, I had an employee there praise me personally on how well I was coming along with my Dutch. And they threw in some extra fish for me, no charge. And I never feared going into that shop ever again.
- Last, but not least, try to have a positive attitude about it.
|Shopping in the city center.|
Winkelen in het centrum van de stad.