You’ve moved to the Netherlands, started learning Dutch because you live here and really want to take part in society? You use every opportunity to practice your Dutch language skills but every time you start speaking Dutch, the response is in English. If this happens on a daily basis, you might lose your motivation to learn Dutch. On the other hand , you can find yourself in a situation where you are obliged to speak Dutch, which can be very difficult. What is happening here?
LOST IN CONTRADICTION
In the Netherlands there are 17 million people and a slightly lower number of different opinions, as the Dutch love to voice their opinion and some perhaps even before thinking. But there is one, for you important, topic that splits society into 2 groups. The die-hards, who think you really should be able to speak Dutch, and they will make you feel there is something really wrong if you don’t. And those who are happy to show their knowledge of the English language, good or bad, and will switch to English at any chance, especially when they ‘ detect a foreign accent’. What makes it even more difficult for you; it’s hard to recognize which type you’re dealing with when you order your drinks at the bar, your groceries at the shop, or want to pay at the checkout.
TIPS FOR DEALING WITH DIE-HARDS
Who are those die-hards who think you should Speak Dutch at any time? It can be your family doctor (you’ll need B2/C1 level to explain in Dutch what’s wrong with you), or the person on the phone when you’re trying to fix things like getting a provider, a plumber, or when you get in contact with the school your children attend . We can split these die-hards up in 2 groups; those who simply refuse to speak English because ‘we are in the Netherlands’, and those who cannot speak English very well and feel ashamed. What will help for both groups, is just one sentence to clear the air ‘Ik leer Nederlands, maar ik ben een beginner. I am learning Dutch, but I am a beginner’. Learn this one by heart!
TIPS FOR DEALING WITH FRIENDLY ENGLISH SPEAKING DUTCH
There are several phrases you can try; Spreekt u ook Nederlands? Ik spreek geen Engels! Wat zegt u, ik begrijp het niet……..! Or simply show your Flowently sticker ‘Maak me blij, spreek Nederlands met mij!’ In most cases the person will give you a smile, and help you patiently practice your conversational Dutch. Find a ‘Dutch language mate’ in one of the shops in your neighbourhood , and every time you go there, this person will recognize you as ‘this funny international, who wants to speak Dutch’. A perfect situation to improve your skills and confidence.
DO I NEED TO BE A PSYCHOLOGIST TO SPEAK DUTCH?
Never give up, approach every situation with a fresh pair of eyes, and most importantly , use your sense of humor. Started a conversation in Dutch, but suddenly got lost after a few sentences and replies? Then throw in some Dutch magic phrases like ‘ Inderdaad! (indeed), Wat grappig! (how funny), Geweldig! (great), Tuurlijk! (of course), to keep the conversation going 🙂
Want to know more handy tips and tricks? Ask your private Flowently tutor, you can go for a drink or shopping together, and find great solutions for small everyday issues that crop up. Zet’m op! Break a leg!