10:10 – Things people ask you when you tell them you’re learning Dutch

I could quite comfortably write reams and reams on this topic therefore I thought limiting myself wasn’t a bad idea. In this post I am going to talk about 5 English responses and 5 Dutch responses. These are genuine responses I have had from people when you tell them that you are learning Dutch.

  • English Responses

  1. “Why?” – Standard English response to anything that is out of the ordinary. “Why do you want to do that? / What’s the point?” Well the point is that personal development is a choice and my choice is to do it via languages.
  2. “That’s interesting.” – This is the response from any multilingual person. I’ve noticed myself start to do it when someone says they are learning Spanish or Hindi or some other exotic sounding language. I think there is a mutual understanding of the struggles of learning a language that make for a ‘That’s really interesting’ response. Maybe you can share tips or experiences of your language learning journey.
  3. “What for?” – Similar to the standard response of ‘Why?’ the ‘What for?’ people always assume there is some grand end goal. They are never happy with a response along the lines of ‘just because’. The standard expected answers are work or love. Most people think you are either learning to for work or to impress a loved one. I have still not developed a good enough come back to this kind of question.

    I dont understand the photo reference but who cares! One simply does not learn Dutch grammar!!
  4. “Is that the same as German?” <Insert here a dodgy Audi advert impression> – This frustrates me. Dutch is a Germanic language BUT it isn’t German. I was a little naive at first about Dutch as there is some cross over but almost instantly when you hear the two together Dutch is much more soft and bouncy whereas I always feel that German is a harsh sounding language.
  5. “Say something in Dutch then.” – The response of people that don’t believe you. Its almost as if these people want to catch you out. What do you say when you get asked that? I end up going a long the super predictable lines of “Hallo Goedenmorgen, ik ben Maria, Hoe gaat het met jou?” (yes that is my standard, on the spot, Dutch sentence.)
LANGUAGE! This really made me laugh!
  • Dutch Responses

  1. “Why? Everyone here speaks English”. – This is a cop-out. Most time I get this response is because some Dutchies like the fact that not many people speak their language so they can talk about you almost to your face and you’d be completely oblivious to what was going on. This is sneaky but I must admit I like it. I cant wait to go on a package holiday and overhear a Dutch family. It will feel like they are talking in a code only we know and I can give them the node! (Or not, am I getting to carried away here?).
  2. “Really? It is a super hard language to learn.” – That’s no reason not to bother though surely. Similar to response no.1 just because I don’t need it doesn’t mean its acceptable not to know the basic polite gestures.
  3. “That is really good.” – This is from the supportive Dutchies. They acknowledge the difficulty of the language like response no.2 but they appreciate the commitment to learning something that sometimes feels most unnatural.
  4. Say something in Dutch then. – Similarly to the reasons I gave for the English response the Dutch do the same only this time they really do what to catch you out and correct your poor pronunciation. I had the Dutch test of ‘say Scheveningen’ which apparently is a most scientific test to check whether or not your Dutch is actually German, or something like that. This has happened to me, around the dinner table, on more that one occasion. Or the best is when they say “Say this then…” and then judge you on your delivery of an insult to someone, the best thing in those occasions for me is that 80% of the time I know I’m saying something rude so the joke is just as much on them as it is on me!
  5. They carry on in Dutch, at lightening pace just expecting you to therefore fully understand everything that is being said by everyone like a native. There is either that response or indeed a pop quiz on all of the hard words. Similar to – response no.4. The quiz is partly malicious in the fact that they expect you to get it wrong and embarrass you (that’s normally my response. I feel the colour rising in my cheeks and all of a sudden EVERYBODY is looking at me).
Can we have a reference to Austin Powers in every post?!
Can we have a reference to Austin Powers in every post?!

Dutch Primary Schools to Conduct 15% of Their Lessons in English

Dutch primary schools will soon be able to conduct 15% of lessons in English, French or German in an effort to boost language skills. Junior Education Minister Sander Dekker wants to extend the use of other languages following successful trials that shows young children pick up foreign languages more quickly. It’s no secret to anybody that I’m learning Dutch, I have been doing so now for nearly 10 months. I’m in my 20’s now and fitting in as many Dutch hours as possible but it’s hard!

I am British and went to English schools. I was never even introduced to another language until I went to secondary school when I started learning French aged 10. At age 14 I did one academic year of German, most of which I have completely forgotten (Geburtstag means Birthday right?)! Is my French any good? Meh. Well I lie; I can watch Engrenages rather well only refereeing to the subtitles occasionally and still get the gist of what’s going on. The truth of the matter is that learning a language is hard. I have talked on this topic many times on my blog, about my motivations and my methods but in actual fact, and science has proven this, learning a language from a young age improves recallmemory and future prospects. I have many friends speaking many different languages and it has set them all up really well now we in adult life.

Language dictionaries

Continue reading Dutch Primary Schools to Conduct 15% of Their Lessons in English

My Holiday Highlights…

Holiday Highlights

In no particular order:

  • Getting complimented on my manners by the sweetest Swedish woman in an Italian restaurant. I’ve had many comments on my accent over the years, especially at university, nobody has ever pointed out how sweet I sounded!
  • Eating Frikandellen op de terrace
  • Drinking Chocomel on the sofa. Dutch hot chocolate is my most favourite hot chocolate in the world. I actually refuse to drink hot chocolate anywhere else in the world. Its just not the same!
  • Watching Dr Phil in Dutch! I’m saying no more than that, I cant watch this kind of trash tv on my television at home.
  • Dutch TV in general. I had this incredible mix of English in my head, Dutch on the TV and in the car and then Spanish in the shops.
  • Singing songs by my ultimate Dutch celebrity: Paul De Leeuw and singing “Kids Club” songs in Dutch. I have a thing for Dutch music, they sing with so much passion its incredible. Every track to me is like a Eurovision Party.
  • A week with a Dutch sense of humor. I’ve laughed that much my face hurt!
  • Finding a fully Dutch-speaking restaurant, and learning that most of the area I was staying in was owned/run by Dutch people. The menu cards where in Dutch, the staff etc. Moraira seems to be the second home for Dutch people. Its amazing how much Dutch I have been exposed to in Spain. I am starting to notice more and more connections to Dutch or the Netherlands in my everyday life, it’s the little things I have not noticed before. I suppose it’s similar to when you are buying a new car and all of a sudden it looks like everyone has the same car. There are lots of Dutch in Moraira though, more than any other nationality and at this time of the year there is more Dutch than there is Spanish!

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Another day another country…

I was back in Schiphol at 5am this morning so I thought I would share a few more photos with you. I am away for a few days with Gino, my Dutch buddy (hence the one night lay over in NL). It also means that my Dutch notes have been given the once over by him too, I think he was impressed! His mum tested me on a few bits too last night.

I’m going to point out something really obvious that everyone learning Dutch already knows…DUTCH PEOPLE TALK FAST. Now I mean really fast. I tried my best to use the odd words I have picked up to follow conversation and I don’t think I did too badly but with tiredness, excitement and a belly full of Dutch Chinese food I got lost a few times.

SAM_0339 SAM_0344  SAM_0340

Continue reading Another day another country…