Fake it until you make it!
Magic and the Flowently method
I wish Flowently was around when I was learning Dutch. Their method focuses precisely on the aspects of the language that caused me trauma when I came to this country.
Take the nightmare called Dutch sentence structure. Normally, you go subject-verb-object, as in English. But once your sentence is longer than four words, you may have to do this weird inversion thingy – flip the words around in a part of the sentence. How do you know which sentences need this flipping flip? Which part of the sentence needs flipping? And where, in God’s name, do extra phrases go?
I always thought learning Dutch sentence structure was like climbing to Machu Picchu. You go through hell but end up in heaven. But now I realize you can avoid the struggle. Flowently advises to take the easy way out. Avoid the struggle by calling on what they call ‘your five friends’. These are 5 tiny words you can use to avoid all this flipping madness. It’s genius!
How to be polite and sound fluent
The entire system of instruction is like this. Anja Vreeburg has broken down the key elements of the language into simple patterns and tricks you can use to fake it till you make it. You practice a series of ‘magic phrases’ that recur habitually in everyday conversation so you can sound fluent even when your vocabulary is still at the level of pathetic. From the ubiquitous ‘tsjonge jonge’ to the handy ‘mag ik erlangs?’, these clichés can form a skeleton on which you hang your own meanings and purposes.
Their booklet ‘Learn Dutch on the Go’ is a wonderful condensation of basic rules of grammar and a goldmine of linguistic tips and tricks. It includes pronunciation exercises and offers formats for conversation in varying settings, from business meetings to conflict situations to going to the doctor. It even teaches secret phrases to express politeness.
Speed up your ‘reaction time’
With this basis, you proceed to an excellent book called Taaltempo: training in conversational skills, written by Pauline Kuiper-Jong. This takes you, step by step, through the various formats of everyday speech in the form of questions and answers. Once again, my own experience of learning Dutch is what makes me enthusiastic about this book.
In learning a language, the writer says in the blurb, it seems that, even after years of study, learners have difficulty with ‘reaction-time’. The gap between question and answer. I know this problem well. You tend to formulate your sentences based on the conventions in your own language. With these drills, you practice saying things using the correct Dutch phrasing and idiom.
I cannot recommend this approach enough.
Written by Niala Maharaj