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Thread: Dutch: Easy to learn?

  1. #61
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Compared to English mostly, my minor knowledge of Swedish only extends to the spoken language.

    It just seems to me a lot of Dutch words are pronounced very differently than they are written.
    Last edited by Taalmsje; 20th February 2009 at 1:50 PM.

  2. #62
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taalmsje View Post
    Compared to English mostly, my minor knowledge if Swedish only extends to the spoken language.

    It just seems to me a lot of Dutch words are pronounced very differently than they are written.
    Only if you look at them without knowing the Dutch rules. There are some strange sounds such as sch and the ij etc. but that can be can learnt if you are taught properly. The pronounciation rules are relatively simple, compared to English. I can understand very easily anyone speaking what is supposed to be standard Dutch, but dump me in parts of Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Maastrich on a Saturday night after 23:00 some/most of it will pass me bye. Same in Brixstone with English....

    English is much more difficult to pronounce correctly than Dutch. Is there a correct way? No, there are accepted ways that are taught. But these days, expressing yourself is considered to be important. (Even if you leave the rest of the world in ignorance.) Do British people speak English the same way from one town/district to the next? No they don't. Do the Americans speak it the same or do the West Indians? No...

    Watch East Enders and learn to speak that version of BBC English only if you want to go and live in the East End of London. I don't pronounce my English anything like that, but luckily some of the words used are the same. How the English string the spoken (and written) words together (volgorder) varies as well.

    Back to Dutch. The biggest problem you will have in learning Dutch is to find a teacher who can guide you through it and has the time to help you.

    Your next problem will always be the Dutch themselves. Too many of them insist on using their English on you. Dan wordt je lui. Je geeft de strijd op. Je moet luisteren. Je moet mensen na-apen; je moet de taal gebruiken. Je moet het eigenen.

    Je moet fouten maken. Ik herhaal, je moet fouten maken. Jullie vrienden moeten je (kunnen) helpen deze fouten te corrigeren. Je moet nederlands blijven spreken. Je moet in het nederlands kunnen denken , ook als het slecht nederlands is. (Net als de mijne.)

    De groetjes,

    GeorgeF..

    PS.. I didn't run my Dutch or English for that matter through a grammer or spelling checker, I normally do that... I'll do that later. I'm still learning, from my mistakes, in both English & Dutch.

  3. #63
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Hi,

    1. What are we talking about when we're talking about 'an easy to learn language'?
    I think we're all aware of the fact that we can move the goal posts and that we all are moving them constantly in this dicussion, when talking about
    (1) Dutch (it seems to mean quite a lot of different things to different people when I read this thread),
    (2) easy/difficult to learn (tja, I find ironing difficult...),
    (3) the ability to get yourself understood / to understand other people in specific situations. (Everybody can and does fill in the italicised words in their own way, according to their own perception).
    I'll be moving some goal posts too...

    2. Is mathematics easy?
    Knowing the series 0123456789 might be a good basis or starting point, but if you want to arrive at the calculations in connection with the Cern project, just to pick out an off the wall example, you'll probably need more, and probably a lot more than the standard series 0 to 9. If you want to get aquainted with financial calculus, you'll need something different than people involved in IT (being able to understand the worn out joke "There are 10 kinds of people in the world - those who understand binary and those who don't", and being able to count till 8 might be good starting points in the latter case.)
    So, if this would be the NumberReference forum, my counterquestion would be "If somebody is strong in let's say mathematical physics, trygonometry, discrete mathematics, does that automatically mean that she is also good in (all) the other fields of maths?"

    I think we should ask a similar question for Dutch (and any other language).

    3. Is language X easy?
    The math thing might be a bad comparison, but I guess that more or less the same goes for learning a language. So, back to language we go with a personal example:
    I am able to read a Portuguese book about linguistics without too many problems (not a big surprise: I know the very basics of Portuguese, I had some, not much, formal training in linguistics, mostly in English. The specific Portuguese vocabulary, the linguistic jargon, is almost similar to the English one). So, piece of cake.
    Talking of which... Don't put me in a Portuguese pastelaria to ask for the right bolo, because then I am completely lost.
    I conciously don't talk about ordering a bolo in other countries or regions where Portuguese is spoken, because I don't want to stress the factor regiolect (regional dialect).
    Do I know Portuguese? Is Portuguese easy?

    Another example:
    You have read my post so far. It's written in something that faintly resembles one of the many 'Englishes', a bunch of languages with which I have been struggling for at least 28 years.
    Do I know English? Is my English good? Is English easy to learn?
    My personal answer will probably differ a lot from possible and possibly well meant, but slightly patronising, answers like "Yes. Yes. Yes."
    Is my English good enough to get myself understood? Probably, yes (at least I hope so). But wat if i rited somtin' laik diz. Mai Ingelish stil enuf good iz? If you'd choose to reply in a Scottish-English, Welsh-English, Cockney or whatever non-standard accent, it means you did understand my personal English in the first place. But spare yourself the effort to answer it: I probably wouldn't be able to understand you. My problem, not yours.

    Anyway, I could come up with countless other situations, which require different counting systems, vocabularies and 'rules', even for me and my own native tongue: Don't put me on a Dutch ship (I'll sail straight to that iceberg, if I get that ship moving in the first place). Don't put me on a farm, be it a local one or a West Flemish one, the animals wouldn't survive, and probably me neither. I don't understand Dutch 'legalese'. I could go on... I mean, I don't always understand the Dutch involved, the language of the instructions, the situations or rather the "Dutches" involved. And I am considered a native speaker.

    Again, I don't even want to stress the regional variants here, I am more talking about social variants, situational ones, which require different kinds of Dutch, with different registers, styles, mixtures of all these (and more). And all these patches make that enormously huge quilt we like to call "Dutch" (or language X. Simple: one word, one label, but probably one of the most abstract and sometimes even the emptiest of words used when talking about learning a language).

    4. What are we talking about? (who's 'we'?)
    I think that we're all aware that we're talking among, how can I say, peers here on this forum: most of us are educated, up to extremely highly educated (I mean, trained in a school) with some sort of background in language learning, probably well motivated, and probably accustomed to a learning environment and learning tools (from class room to manual to self study course and motivated enough to go further than this).
    I think we're educated, schooled enough to, for example, use a computer, understand the WRF register and login instructions in a foreign language (foreign to many of us).
    Schooled enough to recognise (the format of) an exercise in a handbook, an abstract grammatical rule in a handbook, schooled enough to be able to understand that 'ik' in an exercise isn't necessarily 'ik' (I, eu, yo, man, me, moi, Frank).
    Oh, by the way, I hope I don't have to explain in a future post that 'schooled' and 'highly educated' does not equal 'smart, intelligent' and that 'not educated', 'not schooled' does not equal 'dumb' (hoping I used the correct amount of negations here).


    We seem to take this situation for granted, hence we're talking about (correct) spelling, written texts and we ask questions as "Can anybody tell me what the best way is to learn Dutch for an English speaker?".
    Which is normal, that's what WRF is for.

    I do have some doubts about quite a few things that have been said here before in this discussion, even when applied to our little peer group -- this very forum for middle classed, trained language learners.

    However, I am quite sure that hardly anything written here in this thread holds one single drop of H2O the moment we leave this padded room stuffed with the schooled language nerds we all are :-).

    Who do you think cares about good Dutch spelling, writing correctly? Who do you think really cares about good diction, clear sentences, SOV, xVSx? Who do you think really cares about "Dutch"?
    (With my apologies for the following clichés and stereotypes, but I hope you see my point. )
    Not that Polish worker: for him correct language is not one his most useful tools. He's got other things to do than distinguishging v from w and u from oe.
    Not that Turkish shop keeper who knows a bit of that other Germanic language from a previous life in Germany, you know, that language which makes it easy to learn Dutch.
    Not that Nigerian guy, straight from the streets of Lagos, who knows that other Germanic language, you know, that language which makes it easy to learn Dutch.
    Not that Irish bar keeper who works his ass of in a Continental Irish pub: for him understanding the difference between één pintje en 10 pintjes is of vital importance. Knowing more, a waste of time.
    Not that Berber woman who never saw the inside of a class and gets dropped in a Flemish one, who's forced to learn Dutch but hardly hears it, sees it, reads it, speaks it, understands it, after being 30 years over here. I invite you to aks these people at your local NT2-school the same question: is Dutch easy to learn?
    You'll probably get slightly different answers than the ones above :-).

    5. As for your question...
    Whether Dutch is easy to learn or not, has hardly anything to do with the language itself.
    If it has something to do with Dutch itself, its relatedness to other languages etc., then only for a very limited amount of people.

    6. As for my personal answer to your question, being a middle classed language nerd myself:
    I don't know about you, but I do feel like a hitch hiker on the SS Heart of Gold when starting or continuing to learn a language, any language. The Infinite Improbability Drive might steer me into something which doesn't seem to be an endless universe, but in something that actually IS a universe without frontiers. I can boldly get carried away to whatever corner I want and don't want to get carried away, while learning bits and pieces of and about that corner. Or simply while ignoring that corner and be moved on. And I also know that the aquired pieces can help me to learn more of other pieces of other corners, keeping in mind that Dutch is easier to forget than to learn, remember and use.
    But luckily, there isn't something as boring or trivial as a Restaurant-Frituur at the End of Dutch.
    That's already in itself a reason to be motivated: it doesn't stop. Alas, I have experienced that it's also a reason to get enormously frustrated and angry.

    Anyway, if you're inclined to call something which requires more than a life time to master 'easy', then I am inclined to raise at least one eyebrow.
    I wouldn't call making that journey, learning that language 'easy'. Rewarding (emotionally, socially, economically, personally, intellectually...), fun, interesting? Ja. Bloody hard, frustrating and mighty difficult? Zonder twijfel. But easy... Neeje, da zekerst ni.

    Groetjes,

    Frank
    Last edited by Frank06; 20th February 2009 at 7:33 PM.
    If you open your mind too much, your brain might fall out.

  4. #64
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taalmsje View Post
    Compared to English mostly, my minor knowledge of Swedish only extends to the spoken language.

    It just seems to me a lot of Dutch words are pronounced very differently than they are written.
    What do you mean there? Can you speak fluently Swedish being a Dutch speaker?
    Last edited by Frank06; 23rd February 2009 at 1:14 PM. Reason: Spelling, please.

  5. #65
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Hello. I'm so glad that I found these forums.

    I am a native English speaker in the United States who has recently started contacting the "long lost" members of my father's side of the family, who live in the Netherlands. One of my relatives who lives in Holland would really like me to visit him for a long-term period (live with him for a short while) but suggests I learn a small amount of Dutch before going to Europe.

    Obviously I don't have anyone to practice with and because Dutch is not a widely-used language in America, it is hard to find classes and teachers or tutors.

    I started using Rosetta Stone, and was encouraged when I picked up what felt like the basics rather quickly. But the problem with RS is that it does not explain some things, and so word order (as mentioned in this thread) and some vocabulary issues have thrown me off. It's very discouraging.

    So I was wondering what benefits there would be to finding an online community and learning it that way. If anyone has any other suggestions for supplementary reading I could be doing alongside RS, that would be great, as well.

    Much love.

  6. #66
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by treedkind View Post
    Hello. I'm so glad that I found these forums.
    You're more than welcome and I am quite sure that all members of this forum will do their utmost best to help you!

    I learn a small amount of Dutch before going to Europe.
    It's more or less already been said (or implied) in this thread, but I think the first sentence you should learn is "Sorry, ik spreek geen Engels." :-).

    Obviously I don't have anyone to practice with and because Dutch is not a widely-used language in America, it is hard to find classes and teachers or tutors.
    I started using Rosetta Stone, and was encouraged when I picked up what felt like the basics rather quickly. But the problem with RS is that it does not explain some things, and so word order (as mentioned in this thread) and some vocabulary issues have thrown me off. It's very discouraging.
    Feeling discouraged is a very normal aspect of almost any learning process, especially when your only source is a self-study course. So every time you feel like that, signal your problem and we'll try to encourage you and tell you to consider it as a challenge :-).
    A forum like this can provide a minimal form of interactivity. I think any form of interactivity (on whatever level, no mater how minimal) might make the learning of Dutch (or any language for that matter) less difficult.

    So I was wondering what benefits there would be to finding an online community and learning it that way. If anyone has any other suggestions for supplementary reading I could be doing alongside RS, that would be great, as well.
    These pages might be a good starting point. They contain quite a few websites where you can find grammars, courses, exercises, sound files etc., a lot of which in English. Up to you to find out which one suits your needs best :-).

    Veel succes!

    Frank
    Last edited by Frank06; 6th March 2009 at 3:20 PM.
    If you open your mind too much, your brain might fall out.

  7. #67
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    www.dutchgrammar.com is really good, treedkind

  8. #68
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Bedankt voor uw hulp!

    I am in your debt!

    Veel succes.

  9. #69
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Easy to learn but difficult to practice.

    I am learning Dutch as an Ex Afrikaans speaker.
    I can read books and understand the news so I guess it's more of a migration project.
    I have problem actually using the language as 90% of the people in Brussels are French speakers. I need to speak the language correcly in order to currently find a contract in Belgium in IT.
    Most Dutch speakers reply in English which adds to the problem.
    This I can understand as Dutch speakers must speak English for any
    well paid job in IT.
    For me it's more confusing than being difficult. I have to try and speak
    really slowly otherwise I end end up using German and Afrikaans words.

  10. #70
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    I studied in Belgium for four years at two universities. They were both Dutch universities but that wasn't the main part of my studies. I only had time to study a small amount of Dutch when I was there. I didn't get very far withit at the time. Later I checked Dutch language books and study material in America and they were two times more expensives than French or Spanish study material and not a lot of choices. The Belgium embassy here in Washington promotes the Dutch language and has Dutch courses. In Rome Italy the embassy of the Netherlands has Dutch courses.

    I finally started to get Dutch after spending eight years in Namibia and learning Afrikaans. There is now an international satellite TV channel of Dutch language progrms called BVN. The internet is really good for learning languages. A lot of reference sources and the best things I've found are chat rooms and international internet radio.

    Search for Dutch radio websites and the largest Dutch chat rooms are at
    http://www.chatplaza.nl/

  11. #71
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    I think it's more difficult to learn Dutch in Belgium than in the Netherlands (at least, on the streets. At universities there should be no difference, of course.), but of course I'm not objective. But I think in Belgium the language on the street is much more influenced by dialect than in the Netherlands. I rarely hear Flemish people speak without at least a strong accent. Even for Dutch people it is quite hard to understand Flemish people now and then.

    Do the Dutch / Flemish people here agree or not?

  12. #72
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Sauv View Post
    But I think in Belgium the language on the street is much more influenced by dialect than in the Netherlands. I rarely hear Flemish people speak without at least a strong accent. Even for Dutch people it is quite hard to understand Flemish people now and then.
    Some notes and general remarks:
    - I never hear anybody speak without an accent, for the simple reason that everybody talks with an accent. Hence speaking Dutch as spoken in the Netherlands (versus Flanders) is not accentless Dutch as you seem to imply.
    - People here sometimes have a problem with the strong accent of Dutch Dutch. Students of either variety often have problems understanding the 'others'. But learning Dutch (or any other language) without the richness of the many regional and social varieties and dialects, is something for the bubble called class room. In real life, learners of any language should also deal (at least what the passive skills are concerned) with non-standard speech (whatever is understood by that).

    Groetjes,

    Frank
    If you open your mind too much, your brain might fall out.

  13. #73
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    hi there!

    Just popping in here to say hi and that I am more than happy for having discovered those forums too!
    I have read all the posts in here and got reassured in some ways that Dutch, being close to German and English, can be easier for people having some knowledge of those languages already... My English is fine, my German, well, I'm 30, started learning it at 12 without really improving in it all those years, I am just remaining at an intermediate level, I don't not use it enough at work and it looks like all my attempts to make progress (language courses abroad etc.) have never really made feel me better ;o). Anyway, I'm good at grammar, vocabulary is my nightmare but as far as I saw, scanning the first pages of my Dutch book, Dutch is not that bad (and it takes off the problem of declinations that I'm bad at too in German, so it sounds like it's gonna go like a breeze..hopefully ! I wait and see for the pronunciation too...)
    I dont have any urgent reason to learn Dutch, just for the love of languages and that being in the North of France, 30 kms from Belgium, I see many ads in my field requesting this language... The thing is that, even though I am living so close to the border you would say, I just can't find any school providing lessons next to my town :/ I then had a look online and found this site : http://www.ella.eu/
    I was wondering if anyone had ever tried and if I could get any feedbacks...as it is not free
    Well, it was for the most part, the purpose of my post...and speaking about the difficulty of a language or not, motivation, love, perseverance and work make the difference I guess!

  14. #74
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Having learned Dutch almost exclusively through passive methods (uitzendinggemist.nl + an excellent book "Dubbel Dutch" by Kevin Cook + the lyrics of Blof!) I have found it remarkably easy - alot easier than Russian, which I also study.

    With my passive knowledge, I have found that I am able to sustain a conversation with Dutch native speakers much more easily than I could after having learnt French for the same amount of time.
    Last edited by Frank06; 21st August 2009 at 5:18 PM.

  15. #75
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Sorry to resurrect this thread from the dead, but I recently found this forum and I was compelled to write about my experience (short as it may have been) with learning Dutch.

    I became interested in Dutch primarily through soccer. When I was in high school I saw Ruud van Nistelrooy play for Manchester Utd. and he quickly became my favorite player. For awhile I learned all about him and eventually started expanding my knowledge of all things Dutch. I had read the wikipedia entry about the Dutch language countless times, but only 2 summers ago did I finally decide to buy a "teach-yourself" Dutch book. It worked ok, but without actually speaking and hearing the language it was difficult to really learn.

    In the Fall semester of this past year of college I decided to take a Dutch class at Columbia University. It was really overwhelming at first because my only other experience with a Germanic language (aside from English) was a year of German I took in 8th grade (almost 8 years ago!). However, after only a couple weeks I was surprised at how quick I was picking the language up. I wasn't fluent or anything and my pronunciation wasn't fantastic, but I think I made some really great progress after only 30 classes.

    I was upset I couldn't take another semester of the class due to scheduling conflicts, and hadn't done much more learning since then. However, in an unexpected turn of events, my girlfriend's family recently moved to Eindhoven, and it has renewed my interest in the language. I hope to learn more and I will definitely be reading this forum every day to pick up any tidbits about the language that I can.

    Anyway, to make a long story short, I found it surprisingly easy to learn beginner level Dutch with only having a background in the English language. I am positive that if I were to live in the Netherlands or Belgium I would be able to speak it fairly well after a pretty short time.

    -Mike

  16. #76
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    I taught some Germans Dutch last year and though there are quite some similiarities, I was quite surprised by the problems they encountered. Especially the changing of the amount of vowels seems to be a hard thing. I liked it a lot, because apart from being paid, it give me a better inside in my mother tongue as well..

  17. #77
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    I'm finding it relatively straightforward so far; I've yet to seriously get into tenses or tricky usage areas. I'm going mainly with Rosetta Stone for now.

    If anyone's curious, the reason I'm learning is because my Mom is from Groningen and most of her family lives in the Netherlands. I'm hoping to visit soon and be in on the conversation as much as possible!

  18. #78
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Its my mother tongue but I think its one of the easiest languages to learn. I mean how hard can it be?

    And if you already mastered english, dutch wont be hard at all b/c we use so many of the same words but we only pronounce them different

  19. #79
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    " + The fact that too many Dutch people revert to English rather than put up with your efforts to speak their language in their country. While I appreciate that switching back to English might help get information across quicker (especially in shops where there are queues to consider), I really appreciate it more when people have a bit of patience and recognise that I'm making an effort with a language I don't particularly like. After all, I could always become one of those expats who don't bother to learn a word of the local language, right? "

    Why is politeness and friendliness among Dutch native speakers so often mistaken for lack of patience or rudeness ? When we see someone struggling with their Dutch words we are coming to their rescue and are trying to avoid that someone feels awkward.
    Apart from trying to learn the language also try to understand the friendly mentality.

  20. #80
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    Re: Dutch: Easy to learn?

    Hi,

    I found this article (announcement, advertisement) today:
    Dutch, or ‘Nederlands’ (nay-dur-lunts) as it is known in the local tongue, is a global language with an estimated 45 million speakers worldwide. [...] Belonging to the same family of languages, Dutch, of all modern languages, is considered the closest to English. This makes it one of the easiest foreign languages to learn for speakers of English.
    1. 45 million is quite an optimistic estimation (even if it would include non-native, Dutch 2nd language speakers), as opposed to the 20, 25 million native speakers most other sources give. Dutch is in the top 50 list nevertheless.
    2. "closest" to English, oh well, that's just a bad use of a superlative.

    Groetjes,

    Frank
    If you open your mind too much, your brain might fall out.

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