So you have decided to learn Dutch, taken some lessons and can even confidently communicate. Now what? Well, aside from learning the language one of the other common issues is making sure that you retain the language once you have learnt it. Now if you live in the Netherlands, Suriname, Aruba or Dutch Antilles where Dutch is natively spoken.
Then you won’t have to worry too much, it is likely that throughout your day you are having to use the language which will work to keep it fresh in your mind. But if you are learning Dutch and living in a country that speaks another native language, then you will need to keep working on your fluency to ensure that you don’t lose your language level or confidence.
When you have worked hard to learn a language, it can seem like a good idea to just move on to the next goal. But remember that speaking a language especially fluently is an ongoing goal that you have to continue to maintain regularly.
For example, do you remember how long it took you to learn English or your mother tongue to a fluent level? It was perhaps 6-7 years on average, and you had permanent teachers (your parents or guardians). On top of that, you were completely immersed in the culture, and the language surrounded you. Every person, school, shows on TV or music were in your mother tongue. I assure you that if you stopped living in your native country and stopped speaking your mother tongue for a year. It would no longer be so easy to express yourself eloquently and fluently.
Watch movies in Dutch to learn quickly.
Importance of Retaining the Language
Anything that you want to be good at or want to improve needs to be regularly exercised. Whether it is how to memorize a math problem, how to excel at work or how to speak different languages. The more that you practice is, the easier that it will be for you to learn new language skills maintain your proficiency and master your challenges which will also bring you closer to fluency.
The time that you have invested in learning your new language is a valuable investment. But it is not a one-off investment, so if you plan to retain all of the words, phrases, Conjugations and grammatical knowledge that you have acquired. You must practice what you have been taught with self-study and realise that language acquisition is about continuous improvement.
While speaking with a native Dutch person is a great way to maintain your Dutch, you can also integrate other sources to support your continued development. Things like reading Dutch literature can be a compelling way to immerse yourself into the Dutch language and culture. It is also easily integrated into your lifestyle which can support the ongoing learning that language retention requires.
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Reading Dutch Books in the Original and Official Language
Reading Dutch books that are available in both Dutch and have been translated into English is an excellent way to read both books side by side. You can also just ready the Dutch book on it own, or you can use the Dutch book with its corresponding Audiobook. Using literature to learn or refresh your Dutch is excellent because there are so many resources available to you even if you are not in a Dutch-speaking country.
Using books as your learning materials will inform and strengthen your word usage, your dutch pronunciation, teach you better word order, common words, verb usage, and much more. Also, books are much more interesting than the typical textbooks which are tailor-made learning materials for learning a new language.
Let's Take a Look at a Few Examples of Some Fantastic Books That Can Get You Started.
The Dinner, a book by Herman Koch, is an international bestseller and available in Dutch and English. As well as being adapted to be a major motion picture starring Richard Gere. This book is about a family who is making some tough decisions throughout this one dinner in a fancy restaurant. The novel is full of suspense, tension and emotion. The book is a thriller that will be so hard to put down that you might forget that you are practising your Dutch while reading. Koch is a hugely successful writer from the Netherlands that excels in creating thought-provoking characters and emotional atmospheres. You can find this book in all places where books are sold, and you can get the Dutch kindle edition on Amazon Netherlands here.
The Tea Lords are the popular book by Hella S. Haasse available in Dutch and English. This is a book about the Dutch plantations and follows a wealthy landowner whose life is slowly unravelling. Haasse was born in Indonesia but moved to the Netherlands and has become a widely famous author there. Her first book was published in 1945 so she is considered a classical author and her work are well known. You can find this book in all places where books are sold.
Harry Mulisch is an international bestselling Dutch author of many books with one of his most famous being The Discovery of Heaven. This book is available in both English and Dutch and focuses on the twentieth-century trauma through the eyes of a full spectrum of philosophical and suspenseful emotions. The Dutch version of the book can be purchased from Amazon Netherlands for your Kindle here. It is also available where the book is sold online.
Find Dutch lessons in London here.
A Good Newspaper To Help You Retain Your Language Skills
If you find books to be too intimidating at this stage in your language training, then you could try to read Dutch newspapers. Of course, this can be a challenge if you do not currently reside in a Dutch-speaking country. But thanks to the internet you can easily find free online Dutch newspapers that will provide a bite-sized reading for you on all of the days of the week.
Also, the advantage of reading the news over reading books is that you will learn a lot about Dutch culture, Dutch history and indeed the general goings on. You may also get news on your home country which will give you a fresh spin on your own local news. So lets read the newspaper and fast-track our Dutch.
This newspaper offers national and international news and has a light-hearted voice.
This paper has a more serious business focus and also includes culture such as the arts and book reviews https://www.nrc.nl/
The Financieele Dagblad
This newspaper is the Dutch financial times, so this is the one to read for all things finance.
Is a long-running paper founded in the second world war, it is clear and very reader-friendly when learning Dutch. https://www.trouw.nl/
Free Language Learning Techniques For Literature
Adding some new methods to your foreign language routine is essential. Here are some tips to help you when learning Dutch as a second language.
- Read your Dutch book or Dutch newspaper and highlight new words, words that you find difficult or words that you can not read.
- With the new Dutch words you can make a vocabulary tree.
- Draw the trees trunk and some branches.
- Write your new Dutch word on a leaf and stick it to your tree.
- Read out loud.
- Reading out loud allows you to hear yourself and increase your reading fluency.
- Practice reading to Dutch person and ask them for an evaluation.
- Download the corresponding audiobook to go with your book.
- Listening to the audiobook if it is available and read along with the speaker's This helps your pronunciation and conversational skills stay sharp.
- Practice reading then rewriting what you remember
- Practising your comprehension while learning Dutch will help you to retain more of the language
- Extract a sentence and write the following paragraph in your own words
- Take your favourite phrase from the text and then build on it in the Dutch language
- Extract an expression and practice saying it in the different verb tenses
- For example, if your sentence is 'he is walking' you can change the tense to the past 'he walked' and check for any mistake which are really just opportunities to improve.
- Get interactive; Join or create a Dutch book club/reading group for Dutch language learners and Dutch natives.
- Join a Dutch social group on Facebook and create your own language family. Have a conversation with the people there and even share what you are reading about in your Dutch books.
- This is an example of a free online group that focuses on Dutch learning experience - https://www.facebook.com/learndutch.org/
If you enjoy reading the newspaper or a good book, why not pick up a Dutch edition next time and even if you find it challenging you can always use a Dutch dictionary to support your reading. No matter what you do to diversify your learning and development when learning the language. Dutch books and newspapers can be a great resource to integrate into your language learning program and routine.
While learning Dutch is challenging the Dutch culture is rich with opportunities to support your learning and delve into new art forms. The Dutch language is a fantastic language, spoken by more than 23 million Dutch people, so you will always have a considerable number of people to talk to. Even if you cannot get to the countries themselves, you can still meet native speakers of Dutch online which is also the best way to access new content that you may not know about.
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