I should absolutely be sleeping, but no matter what time of night it is or how tired I am; late night is when I’m most productive.
Last week I wrote a post about why not learning Dutch was the one regret I had during my summer away. It only seems right that I talk a bit more about the steps I’m taking to right that wrong.
We all speak theoretically about the benefits of having more than one language under our belts, but most of us never take the steps to do it ourselves. We preach bilingualism in Canada, yet the actual rate of bilingualism is 17.5 per cent. We all know that being bilingual leads to better job prospects, a higher pay and more opportunities to travel, yet less than a quarter of the country actually knows both languages.
I also don’t know French. I often blame it on my teachers, the curriculum or some other circumstance, but the truth is that I just wasn’t interested. I didn’t think I’d ever live outside of my country and I was never moving to Quebec anyway. Well it turns out I was wrong. French would have come in handy this summer in the south of Belgium or you know, France.
I still have no immediate need to learn French, but I have a much more pressing need to learn the Flemish dialect of Dutch. My Flemish boyfriend comes with a horde of Flemish friends and family. It will be worth it but it’s going to be far from easy. Dutch happens to possess sounds not made in the English language and is sometimes comprised of words a mile long. Some of the most uncommonly used English letters are used all the time in Dutch and vice versa.
These will by my resources:
Rosetta Stone Dutch – This thing is extremely expensive but extremely effective. With lessons in spelling, speech and grammer, this thing is the full package. If you can find someone to borrow it from or can afford the high price tag, I highly suggest it.
Dutch in Three Months – A book and audio recording combo that I picked up specifically for it’s lessons in grammer. This baby will show you how to put sentences together, use different tenses and is full of exercises to test what you’ve learned. Be careful though. The explanations can be wordy and frustrating. My boyfriend had to clear some of the pages up for me before I understood it.
Flemish For Dummies – This set of Youtube videos is a good place to get to know the sound of the language if you’re looking specifically for Flemish. She hasn’t had a new video in five months, but it will still teach you to pronounce that guttural G noise.
Bilu Bliu – This is a website that gives you an article and lets you identify the words that you know. The website logs that information and keeps track of the amount of words you know, suggesting new words based on previous information. While there are ways to learn new words on the site, I found that it was better used as a confidence booster. After an hour on the site, I found out that I knew nearly 300 words in Dutch. I honestly thought I knew 20.
Dutch childrens books – This webpage has a selection of Dutch children’s books. As soon as I feel like I’ve reached a kindergarten reading level, I’m taking advantage of these books.
The links below are a couple more websites I’ve found that look like good resources, but aren’t ones that I’ve tried.
I also suggest picking up a pocket phrasebook so that you can study on the go, as well as have it for your travels. If you’re learning any dialect of Dutch, remember that some Dutch words aren’t commonly used in other dialects, but you’ll just have to learn that as you go.
Above all else SPEAK THE LANGUAGE. Forcing yourself to be confident and just speak the language is the only way to learn. Take it from someone who didn’t speak and got nowhere.