free Dutch practise

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.

SPOTTING DOG OWNERS

You meet dog owners in the streets or in the parks. If people take their dogs out on the streets, they don’t necessary have a lot of time. Keep this in mind. They will always have time for some flattering words about their pet, though. People that are walking their dogs in the park, are mostly there to relax and socialise. Memorise the following sentences:

  • Wat een leuke/mooie hond! What a nice (or beautiful) dog. The dog owner will smile. Proceed immediately when they stop. This means they are ready for some small talk.
  • Hoe heet je hond? What’s the name of your dog? This question is very important, because you can use this if you see them again.
  • Is het een mannetje of een vrouwtje? Male or female?
  • Heb je hem/haar al lang? How long do you have him (or her)?
  • Is het een gevaarlijke hond? Is it a dangerous dog?
  • Wat eet je hond? What does he (or she) eat?
Read this article in Dutch

MORE DOG TALK

A couple of sentences might be enough for the first time. When you know the name of the dog, you can greet them the next time and have more conversation. Things to talk about:

  • your own current and former pets
  • if you would like to have another pet
  • why you love animals
  • where you’re from and how they treat animals there
  • how dogs and cats go together
  • your favourite pet-YouTubers (mine are 1bike1world and Jackson Galaxy)

PREPARE YOUR CONVERSATIONS

Look up words and make some sentences if you want to talk about your childhood pets or about other topics. Use context.reverso if you’re a beginner and woorden.org if you’re an advanced speaker. Your conversation will go so much smoother with a bit of preparation!

NO ENGLISH, PLEASE

Remember that this is not just socialising, but an exercise to learn Dutch. This means that you cannot speak English, even if you feel embarrassed or want to impress the Dutch dog owner. The latter is actually easy, because all Dutch are impressed by everyone that has the courage to learn Dutch. To keep them on track, simply download my free cheat sheet for some sentences that make them eager to keep on speaking Dutch with you.

Read this article in Dutch

BE A DOG OWNER – OR NOT

Dog owners always talk to other dog owners. Having a dog guarantees a Dutch social circle. It does come with many obligations, though. Be responsible and never go to a breeder. Get your dog from an animal shelter. Or maybe you can be a volunteer there and walk the dogs in the park. This way you’ll have some interesting stories to tell to your new Dutch dog friends.

FREE DUTCH PRACTICE WITH SMALL TALK

There’s always an opportunity to practice your Dutch, even if you have no Dutch friends or colleagues. The Dutch love it when someone wants to learn Dutch, and NO, the Dutch do NOT like to practice their English with someone who is not a native English speaker. I have no idea where this misconception comes from: if someone tells you this, then they are just being polite.

So keep on learning Dutch and check out my blog about small talk, to find more opportunities for free Dutch practice.

Roelien Reinders
Taaltraining Trancemissie

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