Learning Dutch at the kitchen table and in museums
Most people know Regina Coeli thanks to our “week with the Nuns” concept. This image came about because many companies have sent their employees to learn a foreign language with us for one or more working weeks. But—as you may have already guessed—this image is no longer entirely accurate. Students come for longer or less than a week, space their programmes out over a longer period of time, or even join us for an intensive weekend. At times, clients have somewhat unique training requests, which we do not at all mind because we then get the opportunity to rise to the challenge.
Fifteen-year-old Dafna Heule’s programme is a good example of a course that was composed entirely according to the client’s needs. Her Dutch lessons did not take place at our institute, but at her parents’ kitchen table in their apartment in Zeist. Dafna lives in the United States, but wants to master Dutch because she frequently comes to the Netherlands and has Dutch family and friends. Her father is a Dutchman who does business in both the United States and the Netherlands, which is why Dafna regularly flies across the Atlantic.
Discovering unique aspects of the Netherlands
Dafna had already taken a Dutch course at Regina Coeli two years ago, at the same time as her sisters. At that time, she came to our institute in Vught and had a regular programme of four private lessons a day. This time, though, her programme was shaped differently—she had lessons from ten in the morning to half past twelve and also went on a number of field trips to discover some of the unique aspects of the Netherlands. During it all, she only spoke Dutch with her private language trainer, Nicolette de Vos.
Making small talk
Dafna was extremely pleased with her programme. ‘I had lessons in the mornings and got to put it all to use right away in the afternoons. The nice thing about Zeist is that there aren’t any tourists and everyone speaks Dutch, so I was able to do things like make small talk with my hairdresser. At one point she mentioned the word “bedrijf” (company). It was great because I’d learned that word just that morning! I learned a lot from having lessons a few weeks in a row.’
During this interview, which was done entirely in Dutch, Dafna chose her words carefully. As a result, she spoke a bit slowly, but almost always correctly and without an accent. And that after just a few weeks of Dutch lessons!
Cycling through the Veluwe
Dafna: ‘I enjoyed the conversations with my trainer. We talked about all kinds of things, often quite in-depth. I also really liked the field trips, which included trips to the Open Air and Kröller Müller Museums. It was so nice to cycle through the Veluwe to a hunting lodge after our trip to the museum. It reminded me of California!’
Space in the programme
Language trainer Nicolette de Vos went to Zeist every day to give Dafna lessons. ‘It was really a pleasure to work with such an inquisitive and hard-working girl. She made tremendous progress because there was a lot of space in her programme, and in the meantime she seriously focused on the language. It’s a pity that she’s finished now, but I’m very proud of what she accomplished! It’s good that Dafna will now able to keep working on her Dutch with her family. It’ll go very well, I’m sure!’