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Three surprising hacks to learn Dutch

Everybody wants to get difficult things done fast. Think about assembling that 175-piece IKEA closet with the extra corner. However, when it comes to language learning, there’s no such thing as treating it as a task that you can complete within a certain period of time. Is there no way to speed it up?

Is there? Can learning a language like Dutch become easy? I’m not going to claim I have the key to make it like a Billy. But with an open mind and using a few hacks, you might be a little quicker towards the next level in your language learning.

I’ll give you three: generalization, simplification and personalization.

You just might enjoy these.

Generalization: You do know some Dutch already

Still thinking Dutch is a foreign language to you? Depending on your native language, you will recognize more than you thought you did. Try reading the following: “de man was in de slaapkamer”. How hard did you have to think about that one? One word you saw instantly: “man”. “Slaapkamer” was maybe harder, but you figured it out: sleep chamber.

You would say bedroom. The verb “was” is identical, and so is “in”. Doable right? That’s because Dutch is actually quite close to English; something you can use to your advantage.

So-called “cognates” are words that share a similar origin, even though they now exist in two languages. The Dutch word “beer”, for instance, is related to the English “bear”.

Similarly, “loan words” are taken directly from another language.

The word “restaurant”, for instance, is actually a French word, but both English and Dutch use it.

Using these words is like a hot knife through butter; it makes your language learning much easier.

So tap into your existing knowledge and enlarge your vocab within a short period of time.

Here is a website you can use to see which words exist in Dutch that originate from your own language.

Simplification: Learn what you need

Do you know how many native Dutch speakers speak on C2 level? A mere 5 percent.

And that’s for a reason. When you’re going through the thick and thin of a language there is no end to grammar rules and new words to be learned. But more often than not, you don’t actually need all those details as much as you think. In the end, you’re trying to say what you want, you’re not wanting to be a linguist. That’s why most Dutch speakers have B1 or B2.

Do you use all the options on your washing machine?

Does that mean you can’t wash your clothes? Exactly.

Imagine this: your goal is to reach B1 so you can pass the NT2-exam. You’ll need a specific set of grammar rules and vocab to be able to reach that goal. How do you do that?

If you become sidetracked with an overflow of grammar rules that are interesting but not necessary for your goal, you might get stuck, see no progress, and lose motivation.

And we all know what that means.

In short: understand which rules and words take you to your goal and simplify that information.

If you’re starting to study Dutch grammar rules by yourself, it’s not that easy to distinguish which ones are the important ones and which ones are the hardest for you to apply.

Would it make sense to ask a professional tutor to guide you towards your goal?

A tutor can help you with simple tricks (Dutch: trucje) that will accelerate your pace of learning. How do you like this one: you want to ask a question. You’re not sure of the grammatical rule. You remember your Dutch tutor explained that by using the word “toch?” at the end of a sentence, you can turn any statement into a question. It works as the equivalent of the word “right?”.

“Hij is jouw collega, toch?

Learn what you need. It’s that simple.

Personalization: Working towards your goals

You won’t hear me call out cliches like ‘everybody’s unique!’, although I really want to.

The brain works in mysterious ways.

Even with a specific goal, motivation sky-high, and a few trucjes under your belt, your brain will respond to the interaction of another human being.

This is the exact same reason why you can do a few extra reps in the gym when a friend is yelling at you.

Do you think it makes sense to invest in a private tutor that helps you stay focused, motivated, and has travelled the road to your success many times?

‘Nobody is unique!’, but what about spending dedicated time focusing on the things you need to get from A to B. Wouldn’t be that bad, huh?

Learning a language like Dutch is in itself a test on your patience, will power, and stamina. When you are looking for hacks to learn Dutch, you are on the right track.

Generalize by using what you already know, simplify by using only what you need, and strive for personalisation. Keep in mind that learning Dutch is more than studying.

It’s personal development.

Master Dutch offers private online Dutch lessons, designed to let you understand Dutch fast. Discover how Dutch works.


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