Practice your Dutch and talk to a stranger with a dog

If you live in the Netherlands, you can get some free Dutch practice whenever you want. There can be some problems though. There will be cultural differences between your current location and your homeland. Can you just address a random Dutch person and have a conversation with them? The answer is no. There are certainly conventions for small talk. But one group is notably susceptible to hear the right words: Dutch dog owners. It’s quite easy to please them and practice your Dutch at the same time. Read here how to approach them and what to say.
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What is most important for learning Dutch?

Some people learn Dutch faster than others. This is a fact. But why? Of course this has to do with motherland, background and education. But even more important is your overall skill set.

There is one skill that is most important for learning Dutch, and that skill is listening.

Forget about the meaning of the words, but start to listen to intonation and rhythm. Start with getting the feel of the Dutch language.

THE BENEFITS OF LISTENING WELL

By listening well, you’ll also learn to speak Dutch well. Improve therefore your listening skills, because:
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Translation sites

HOW GOOD ARE TRANSLATION TOOLS FOR LEARNING DUTCH?

It is great that we have all those translation tools that help us to translate Dutch to English. You will get the greater picture of the text. Automated translations to other than English languages will not be that good, while translations from any language to Dutch can be completely absurd.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t use Google Translate, Deepl or your own favourite tool? Definitely not. Translation tools are very helpful, but you have to learn how to use them. Let’s have a look at a few things:
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What can go wrong when you have a Dutch partner?

Once I have a Dutch partner, I’ll learn Dutch within 3 months. If only learning Dutch with a Dutch partner was that easy!

A lot of people without a Dutch partner seem to think that this will be the case. Expats with a Dutch partner will tell you that it doesn’t work that way. Your Dutch partner doesn’t magically instill you with Dutch language skills. On the contrary: having a Dutch partner can be quite frustrating when learning Dutch.
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Full Moon Poem

Many decades ago I stumbled upon this poem about the full moon. I don’t know the writer, and I even don’t know if it’s originally Dutch or a translation. Memorise this poem and recite it to impress your Dutch friends and give them just a little bit the creeps.

Zelfs een man die godvruchtig bidt,
‘s avonds voor hij slapen gaat,
kan een weerwolf zijn als het wolfskruid bloeit
en de maan vol aan de hemel staat.

TRANSLATION:
Even a man that says his prayers at night,
can be a werewolf if the wolfsbane blooms
and the moon is full and bright.

Sleep well!

Scripted Dutch conversations

All students Dutch know that they have to practise speaking Dutch. Even when you have a Dutch partner, some nice colleagues or friends, this can be hard to do. Common problems are:

    • You don’t know what to talk about
    • Your partner expects you to speak on the same level in Dutch as you guys speak in English
    • You don’t have the appropriate vocabulary
    • Your conversation partner doesn’t know how they can help you
    • You feel inhibited to ask a Dutch speaker to help you

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5 tips on Dutch small talk

When you are a high educated expat, chances are that you don’t like small talk at all. When you’re an introvert like me, you might not even know how to do it. Why would anyone like to engage in meaningless chitchat or even gossip?

I’ll explain why and how in this article: small talk is a very useful tool in learning Dutch (or any other foreign language)

What is small talk?

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food critic irritated by English language

Teun van de Keuken is a food critic, but the owner of the coffee bar he frequents is most likely not aware of this. The boss reacts disturbed when the customers address him in Dutch. He wants to be addressed in his mother tongue (English) by his customers. When Teun asks for ‘de rekening’ he looks disturbed.
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