As a Dutch language trainer at BLCC, I work every day with non-Dutch speakers who would like to master Dutch (better). They do so for different reasons: for work or because they have recently moved to Belgium.
All these trainees have one thing in common. Namely that they find learning Dutch quite difficult. Especially for those who do not have a Germanic mother tongue.
However, why is this the case?
Why is Dutch so difficult to learn?
The spelling of our Dutch mother tongue is an initial challenge: after all, vriendelijke groenten is so similar to vriendelijke groeten. Think also of verassen and verrassen, koning and konijn, ik ben mooi instead of moe, and so on.
Confusing, don't you think? Not only spelling proves challenging.
The conjugation of verbs with -dt, de- and het-words, the plural on -en or -s are no slouch either. There are so many rules for using 'er' that trainees get dizzy. Then there is the correct and fast application of inversion and word order in the subordinate clause while talking.
For native speakers, these are natural. You don't even have to think twice about it. And just when you have explained all the 'basic' rules, the exceptions lurk around the corner.
The pronunciation of our diphthongs is another matter. Many languages do not contain an 'ui' 'ij' or 'au' sound. The dreaded 'sch' and 'g' consonants have been notorious for centuries and until today are pure horror for most trainees. We also have such long words in Dutch as identificatienummer.
To make things worse, most Flemish people don't even speak standard Dutch. They use an colloquial Flemish that is even more difficult to understand. Not to mention the various dialects such as West Flemish 😉
Go to Dutch class or help yourself with Google Translate?
Dutch is not easy, it's true. But that is all the more reason to learn the language!
Because when it comes to Dutch, Google Translate or other translation technology will not help you much.
If you want to write a professional e-mail using an automatic translation system, you will soon realise that there are a lot of nuances in the Dutch language. And a robot, it cannot always figure them out.
Just think about semantics and context, for example: Kroonprinses Elizabeth kreeg voor haar verjaardag geen stempel (vertaling van ‘stamp’) maar haar eigen postzegel.
You also have to consider ambiguity, humour, interpretation and cultural specificity in each language.
So a customer email that you write only with translation technology often misses its target and its audience.
Take a Dutch language course
Do you want to do business in Dutch? Or do you live or work in Belgium? Then start practising! Because there is no escaping it.
On the street or in the shops. But also on your job! Do you have Flemish customers or customers just over the northern border? Then they all speak Dutch! Dutch always comes into play.
Is Dutch a challenge? Definitely! But that applies to any new language you learn!
The fact that Dutch has so many special sounds and crazy spelling rules makes our language unique. Hopefully, you will even learn to appreciate the language during your studies. And to see the beautiful side of it.
Because actually, Dutch is a beautiful language, and all beautiful things take time to grow.
So the best way to learn and also use Dutch correctly is with a native speaker. A language is dynamic, and so is learning a language.
If you learn Dutch with a motivated teacher who simultaneously masters the culture, customs and a deep-rooted knowledge of the language, your learning process will have lasting success!
At BLCC, numerous motivated Dutch-speaking trainers are eager to discover and learn to appreciate the Dutch language with you!
Would you also like to follow a Dutch training course?
Or organise one for your colleagues?
Discover our offer here or contact us!