How I learned (some more) Dutch

21 Aug

While I was still busy with the first Dutch language course described last time, I started working. The same position in the same firm as in Romania. The most important difference (besides earning as much as in Romania but for half the time) and cause of sweating every time the phone rang in the first months, was the language. I work in the sales department of a German company and our customers are situated in the Benelux, so mainly Dutch speaking. In the beginning, I only spoke English with my colleagues, as  I still thought I couldn’t speak decent Dutch, but I was learning, so I had hopes. When customers called and started speaking Dutch, I was close to fainting every time from the effort it took me to understand them, even their names were quite a challenge.

So it was high time for another language course, a better one, a more expensive one, as now the firm would pay! 🙂 I was very happy that the firm offered me a course and I can say that it changed my life in the Netherlands since I attended it. It was at ILC in Waalwijk where I had a teacher all to myself, which was exactly what I needed. I could ask away, all my doubts and uncertainties found answers, while also practicing the Dutch language I needed at the office. The lessons were once a week, in the evening and took about 4 months (30 hours in total). After a few lessons I was confident enough to speak Dutch and use it also more in writing.

This was my second and last Dutch course so far, I am now at an acceptable level, I have had my share of compliments on the Dutch I speak and I particularly enjoy noticing the mistakes Dutch people make in their own language 🙂

I would like to know and use more Dutch expressions, this is still a pretty unfamiliar territory for me. And I would like a richer active vocabulary, I understand most of the words I hear or read, but I do not use many of them myself because they just don’t come to mind when needed. So there is still work to be done, for sure.

And to round up my Dutch language adventures, here are some reactions I have had from Dutch people while still not speaking Dutch or now, that I do speak Dutch:

– when I was at the beginning of my Dutch life, I was approached by a Dutch person who spoke Dutch in a loud voice and in a sort of slow motion, something like: “THE WEA-THER IS RE-ALLY NI-CE TO-DAY.” Somehow, this method seemed the best way to deal with someone who doesn’t speak your language but is trying to learn it.

– others, who were not comfortable to speak English (which I was communicating in at that time), which is understandable, told me they are only speaking Dutch to me so that I can learn the language, since I have to learn it anyway. Of course, it can be a method to be forced to speak a foreign language, but at times I felt isolated and left out of conversations I couldn’t follow.

– now, after about 6 years of speaking Dutch every day, I was recently amazed by a Dutch person who hadn’t spoken to me before, but knew that I was not Dutch. He spoke Dutch with me as if HE was a foreigner who doesn’t speak the language well. I spoke to him normally, I certainly don’t sound Dutch, it’s clear that I am a foreigner, but still, I speak correctly, making maybe small mistakes, but nothing major. Well, his Dutch towards me sounded like: “You looking and you seeing the tree.”

– probably the same accent I mentioned also makes many customers calling me at work (it is an office based in the Netherlands, the phone number is Dutch) start talking to me in English. Which I swear they didn’t do when I was just starting here! 🙂 Even some customers who I have on the phone regularly and whom I have even written e-mails in Dutch before. Some of them make it very complicated for themselves, because for some reason they don’t start in Dutch or at least ask me first if they can speak Dutch to me, they just start in English and have sometimes a hard time finding their words.

Well, that was it, good luck to everyone learning Dutch!


Posted by on 21 August 2013 in ENGLISH POST


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2 responses to “How I learned (some more) Dutch

  1. TheForagingPhotographer

    22 August 2013 at 23:48

    I’ve tried to learn Italian and Spanish… after a while I can make myself understood in the language, but I find it much more difficult to understand what people are saying to me!

    • Miki

      23 August 2013 at 7:29

      I know what you mean, that’s the trick with learning a language, you learn the proper, neat version, only to discover no native speaks it :))


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