This year has brought about a lot of change. However, some things stay the same: like the Netherlands, which is still a Dutch-speaking country, and therefore many expats are still looking for ways to learn the language.
But not only are we interacting with our family members and colleagues through our computer screens, but also with our teachers. Many Dutch language courses have migrated from the classroom to a Zoom call.
Lucky for you, we teamed up with the Dutch language expert, Casper, from Dutch Ready to find out some sweet tips on how to nail learning Dutch in an online environment!
|Casper moved to the US from the Netherlands as a child and knows the struggle of trying to learn a new language. He combined this with his background in neuroscience to found a Dutch language school that utilises a unique method and language tricks to kickstart your Dutch learning.|
11 tips to make the most of your online Dutch learning
We asked Casper to offer us some of Dutch Ready’s key tips for learning Dutch online. Here’s what he had to say.
11Don’t be shy, participate (in Dutch!)
Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to learning a language is confidence. The process of learning Dutch inevitably involves speaking it very poorly — and many of us are not up for that constant hit to our egos.
“Practicing your skills in the real world is often forgotten,” says Casper “using a language doesn’t usually take place online. This means that putting your skills to the test in the real world is still a very important element.”
Put all that theory into practice and try and complete your interactions with your barista or cashier in Dutch. What’s great about these kinds of conversations is that they are “dead ended,” meaning that they’re not only predictable but also limited given the circumstances.
This way, you don’t need to fear running out of things to say and you can also get over your fear of messing up in front of natives.
10Take advantage of the flexibility of online lessons
What’s great about online lessons is that you can suit them to your schedule. Are you a night owl who feels most productive after dinner? Schedule an evening lesson. Are you an early bird? Get yourself that morning time slot!
This is an element of online learning that students could really stand to benefit from, Casper says. “Make the most of the flexibility that online lessons offer. Don’t stick to the model of lessons at a fixed time that isn’t convenient. Instead, plan lessons when you’ll be most focused and ready to give it your all.”
9Find yourself a nice quiet corner
This one may be obvious, but just remember that while it’s great to find yourself at home, you don’t need to be in the middle of your house’s latest drama segment.
Did someone find a mouse in the kitchen? That’s unfortunate, best to study in your room. Did one housemate slap the other? Golly, you’d better remove yourself before the furniture goes flying — and you lose your concentration on de vs het.
After all, as Casper points out to us, you have limited cognitive resources and who wants to waste them on household drama? It’s 2020, you’re above that, you now use them to better yourself.
However, just because you may find yourself precariously close to your bed, this doesn’t mean you should burrow yourself into the sheets and watch your lesson.
There are two types of screen time: passive and active. Passive screen time is when you can embrace your inner couch potato, whereas active screen time is — you guessed it — when you’re more alert and take in more information.
It’s important to make sure your screen time when learning Dutch online is active, and the best way to ensure this is through both your mind and body.
“Try to treat online lessons like offline lessons and make sure you’re body posture and attitude reflect a learning intention. Both posture and attitude greatly influence the brain’s ability to take up new information” Casper tells us.
7Add offline learning to your online learning
It is also important to remember that learning actively often includes taking things off the screen during a lesson. “Many studies have shown the benefit of handwriting over typing in terms of memory consolidation,” Casper tells us. Our brains are far more likely to remember something if we write it down as opposed to typing it out.
It’s also great to remind yourself that your learning doesn’t stop once you close your laptop. Make sure to post handy post-it notes on your household items, Casper’s expert opinion is that this benefits learners greatly as “it directly wires the object to the Dutch word in your brain.”
You can also throw some stickers up next to your bathroom mirror. Dutch is Dutch — even if it’s spoken with a mouthful of toothpaste.
6Turn off Google Translate
“Online learning doesn’t just happen during a lesson, it’s also every time you open a webpage or look something up,” Casper points out. Challenge yourself to understand Dutch by disabling your trusty friend Google Translate.
This one is going to be hard, but grab yourself a strong coffee, click that button and try to spend some time immersed in the Dutch web. You’ll be surprised at how much you can understand with a bit of blinking and squinting.
5Make the most of your tools
Unlike Google Translate, your computer can also offer some helpful tools when it comes to learning Dutch. Take streaming services such as Netflix for example. Search for films/series in Dutch and challenge yourself. As Casper puts it “watching Dutch Netflix with Dutch subtitles is extra learning time without the extra effort.”
If you’re seriously doubting your abilities you can always opt for English subtitles! You could also go vice versa and watch shows in your native tongue with Dutch subtitles.
4Record and review (with permission)
In keeping with this theme, you can also ask your teachers if it is okay to record their online lesson. This way, you can look back over the lesson when revising your notes. Certain services allow you to screen record — just always make sure to ask for permission!
3Make a schedule — and stick to it!
Time is also a funny thing at the moment. Life has lost its usual structure but that doesn’t mean you can’t implement your own structure when it comes to learning Dutch.
Draw yourself up a daily schedule. Decide what you are going to learn and — in the wise words of Casper — “let it be something that adds to some semblance of structure in your life.”
2Set goals and celebrate milestones
In drawing up a schedule, you can also set goals for yourself. Casper suggests that you get your tutor involved in this too, “you can set the goals together with your teacher so that you can focus on learning anything that you may need specifically.”
He also suggests that you “make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bounded.”
Learning Dutch can be challenging but it’s also rewarding — and it’s important not to forget that, especially now. Did you achieve everything you wanted this week? Celebrate with a doughnut! Be kind to yourself and acknowledge your mad skills.
1Find a tutor that is right for you
Learning Dutch is a service that you pay for, so you should also make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Does their teaching style suit your learning style? Do the two of you see eye to eye when it comes to what it is you want to learn? Do you get along?
Casper points out that all of these elements play a key role when it comes to how much you enjoy the lessons and how quickly you can make progress.
The benefits of learning Dutch online
Aside from the obvious reason of “coronavirus can’t infect me through a computer screen,” there are actually other reasons why you should embrace online Dutch courses — even once the pandemic ends.
Firstly, you don’t have to worry about missing your bus, or getting stuck in the rain — you don’t have to leave the house! We’re not saying you should learn Dutch from the comfort of your blanket burrito exactly, but you can certainly indulge in wearing your cosiest pair of tracksuit pants whilst sitting however-many feet from your kitchen.
Online classes also don’t require you to be in the same country as your tutor. As Casper points out, “online classes offer flexibility in terms of planning, as well as the ability to learn remotely, even if you travel a lot. An online format means you’ll never need to miss a lesson.” Even if you’ve retreated to another country during the pandemic you can stay up to date with your Dutch learning.
So how can you make the most of your online Dutch lessons? “Stick to it, have clear goals you want to achieve, and make sure there is a good fit between you and the teacher,” says Casper.”
Want more of Casper’s tips? Here’s why Dutch Ready is a top choice
Unique learning method to learn Dutch
Casper makes use of his background in neuroscience to enable faster learning with a methodology based on neuroscientific research. You’ll learn tips and tricks to learn Dutch by using knowledge you already have. As Casper puts it: “Don’t learn harder — learn smarter.”
The lessons are also offered in a one on one format. Casper believes that this removes some of the typical obstacles that one may find in an online group lesson. “Individual lessons means more practice, more feedback and personalized content. Group lessons always mean having less of these three elements, with online group lessons even more so.”
Lessons when it suits you
DutchReady offers easy scheduling (lessons anytime, anyplace) and even trial lessons through which you can get to know your tutor to make sure they’re a good fit before you make your purchase!
Courses to suit your goals
On top of this, Dutch Ready offers courses specific to your needs such as NT2 courses for those who need a certificate! By “focusing on good teaching and learning practices, and tailoring content to a student’s needs,” online learning with Dutch Ready is a solid option for those of us looking to learn Nederlands.
Get started with learning Dutch online
Are you considering learning Dutch online? Or in need of an NT2 certificate? Add some structure to life and carve out some time to better yourself. Reach out to DutchReady and find a tutor and lesson plan that suits you!
What are your best tips for learning Dutch online? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Feature Image: Julia M Cameron/Pexels