7 Flowently tips for friends & colleagues
Congratulations, your colleague or friend, or perhaps your new member of the family has started a Dutch course!
If you don’t have the experience yourself, living and working in a new language, then it is hard to imagine how difficult and frustrating this can be. Learning and living in a new language is a challenge. Where, in your own language you have an entire spectrum of words at your disposal to express yourself intelligently and into detail, in a new language it is a constant search for words – within a certain range – that come closest to what you want to say.
I am not entirely myself
The result? Simple use of language, speaking like a child, insecurity, not feeling like yourself, not really being able to participate, communicating – and perhaps working – below your level, not being understood or understood correctly, fatigue, in short: frustration. For all people who have not had this experience – vacations excluded – it is hard to imagine how this feels. Here are 7 tips on how you can make your colleague feel at home in the new language.
How can I help my friend or colleague learn Dutch?
1 A new day, a new word
Learning a new language is a matter of time. Don’t expect your colleague to learn the new language within a couple of months. High expectations only cause more stress. You can help by choosing a ‘word of the day’ together; socially or work-related. ‘What word do we have for John today?’
2 Be friendly, be patient
Do not talk about your ‘foreign colleague’ or directly confront him with his mistakes. Consider him an equal colleague, even though he may not speak as fluently as you and expresses himself differently. Imagine that you had to learn Chinese and communicate in Chinese the entire workday?! Be patient like a teacher and prevent your colleague from feeling isolated.
3 Dutch lunch or?
Today at lunchtime we will only speak Dutch, or today we will only speak English. Plan a special language-lunch, one that will put your ‘student’ at an advantage. Consider that your colleague is putting in extra effort during work while learning a new language. Do not be surprised when your colleague is exhausted at the end of the workday. Try explaining a Dutch joke once in a while.
4 Simplify your Dutch
Become aware of your own use of language and always be prepared to explain something in English. Speak slowly and patiently and repeat the sentence. See it as an opportunity to look at your own language and culture with a fresh pair of eyes.
5 Provide time to study
Give the student time at work to study Dutch. This will speed up the learning process, increase the student’s motivation and will translate into direct results on the work floor. Only an hour per week works miracles. In fact, a regular 15 minutes every day is more effective than studying for one or two hours once a week.
6 Dutch is a tough language
Only the German and the Danish language has the same grammatical tricks as Dutch does; putting the verb at the end of a sentence, putting prefixes at the end of a sentence with separable verbs, and more hocus pocus for most people. You can be super intelligent but absolutely have no talent for the Dutch language, ouch!
Encourage your colleague to use the words he is already familiar with. With learning a new language, you have to be courageous. People who are not afraid of making mistakes learn faster. If you speak 100 words, you learn some new ones every day, if you do not speak, you will also not learn anything. Making mistakes is not a problem, it is normal and you learn a great deal from it. Our motto: make mistakes, and remember that an accent is charming!
7 The Golden Mean
Has your colleague been taking classes for a couple of months? Usually, understanding a language is easier than speaking it. You can do your colleague a huge favour by speaking to him in Dutch but allowing him to respond back in English. When you stick to speaking Dutch, he can learn a lot and can avoid frustration of having to answer in Dutch, a great middle road! Dutch people use many expressions and proverbs. Ask your colleague how that is in his language. Humor is international!