Speak Dutch with me
Two years ago, singer Kenny B scored a hit with his single ‘Parijs’ (Paris), where he sings: “Praat Nederlands met me” (Speak Dutch with me). In the number, he is singing to a Dutch woman he meets in Paris—switching from French to Dutch is easier, of course!
Expats in the Netherlands who want to speak better Dutch are better off asking Dutch people to speak Dutch with them. Not to make it easier—most Dutch people can easily switch to English and enjoy speaking the language—but to get better in the language. Even the best Dutch course is no substitute for what you can learn in practice. You have to log the hours!
So, how do you keep communicating in Dutch?
1. Set a goal for yourself: what are you going to do in Dutch?
Make a list of situations you will commit to always speaking Dutch in: at the supermarket, the sports club and your children’s school, for example. Do they reply in English? Oh well, just keep speaking to them in Dutch.
2. Make a deal with someone that you will always speak Dutch together
Do you have a patient friend or colleague who can help you? Agree with them that the two of you will always speak Dutch when you chat. A patient person will let you take your time to say what you want to say and not endlessly correct you.
3. Read a Dutch newspaper or websites
If you live and work in the Netherlands, the language practice is yours for the taking. Watch Dutch television shows and read Dutch newspapers, magazines and websites. That way, you will always have enough to chat about when standing round the water cooler.
4. Speak Dutch at work
Do you work in a predominantly Dutch environment? Then speak Dutch at work. Your colleagues will greatly appreciate it and can even help you. If you work in a more international environment, it will feel a bit unnatural to speak in Dutch at work. In that case chat with your Dutch colleagues in more informal talks.
5. Keep practising online
It is easier to keep communicating in Dutch when you feel sure of yourself. To help with that, go online to keep working on your grammar, vocabulary and more. Tip: www.beterspellen.nl has quick, targeted exercises to add a touch of Dutch to your daily routine, and do not forget to keep doing your exercises on e-Regina if you have followed a Dutch course at Regina Coeli.