The jump from social to business Dutch
Amsterdam is not the easiest place to learn Dutch. At the slightest sound of a foreign accent, a kind, sympathetic Dutch person immediately breaks into English! This has happened so many times to Sofia Derossi, an Italian, who has lived in Amsterdam for three years now. Despite this drawback, she did manage to learn a good bit of Dutch and passed the NT2 state exam. However, when she went to work for a small advice bureau outside Amsterdam, she discovered that her Dutch skills were not good enough to cope with business situations. So she turned her back on Amsterdam for a week and came to Vught.
“To come across professionally, I really needed to expand my vocabulary and improve my pronunciation, but most of all I had to build up my confidence. At my work, I’m the only one who isn’t a native Dutch speaker and that’s not always easy”, explains Sofia. “I was anxious about answering the telephone and sometimes, during meetings, I wasn’t able to react quickly enough in the discussion to get my point across. During my training course at Regina Coeli, I was given a lot of practical tips to deal with these problems. I also discovered that once I had got through the first two sentences in Dutch, the rest of the conversation went well. So I concentrated on practising the beginnings of conversations.”
Regina Coeli put together a tailor made language course for Sofia. For five consecutive days, she worked together with her language trainers on expanding her vocabulary, improving her grammar and practising her spoken language in conversation.
Expanding vocabulary relevant to the context
Learning more words can lead to a tremendous improvement in anyone’s language skills. “Most people stay in their comfort zone as far as vocabulary is concerned”, explains Désirée Hoefnagel, Dutch language trainer at Regina Coeli. “The programme at Regina Coeli is designed to teach the course member new words that are relevant to the context of the communication.” To learn long lists of words is therefore not an effective method. Désirée: “No, it is much better to learn a word in context and to practise it within that context. Sofia has a feeling for languages and was therefore able to pick up new vocabulary quickly.”
A structured way of learning new words
After the training course, Sofia was planning to continue to learn new vocabulary. “I learned how to make word webs during my course. This is a structured way of learning vocabulary that works extremely well for me, for example, words useful in my line of work or words expressing emotions. At work, I always have a word web open on one of my screens with all the words that I often use beginning with ‘het’. So I’m making far fewer mistakes now with ‘de’ and ‘het’.
All the ‘het’ words together
For many people who are learning Dutch as a foreign language, the biggest headache is knowing whether to use ‘de’ or ‘het’. “They learn how they are used by speaking Dutch and by being corrected by native Dutch speakers”, explains language trainer Mariëtte Dop. “There are rules for the use of ‘de’ and ‘het’ but during a conversation you don’t have your list of rules at hand. So it’s a good idea to focus on, for instance, work-related vocabulary with the correct article in front. Sofia was very good at this. Her word web with ‘het’ words was brilliant!”
A good ice-breaker during a presentation
What about after the training course? Would you not be able to hear that Dutch is not Sofia’s mother tongue? Mariëtte: “The most important thing to concentrate on first is getting your message across. After that we look at the structure of the language and the pronunciation. If you’re giving a presentation and you tell the audience that you’ve been learning Dutch, it can actually be an ice-breaker. The Dutch respect someone who has only lived in the Netherlands for three years and is already able to speak the language well.” Sofia really enjoyed her Dutch language course. “I am able to communicate much more easily in Dutch now. And do you know what is really great? In Amsterdam, people now actually answer me in Dutch!
Interested in following language training at Regina Coeli?
The Regina Coeli method ensures that you learn to speak a foreign language quickly and effectively. Our highly qualified trainers teach you the skills, vocabulary and grammar that you need for your specific situation so you can immediately start communicating in the language.
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