Learning Dutch I: First Impressions

I have been learning Dutch for almost a month and here are my first impressions of the language, and Dutch culture.

My Learning Plan:

When you learn a new language, especially for moving to a new country, you HAVE to have a learning plan! Of course, plans are a work in progress, but here is my plan so far.

  1. Daily lessons on Duolingo. At the time of this writing, I am currently working through all the lessons on Level 1! I have reached mastery level on the very first lesson. I have to pass a challenge to reach Level 2, but I feel like I am almost there! IMHO Duolingo is the best for learning a new language. I introduced it to my Mum, and she loves it too! She and I are used to learning languages the old-fashioned way. Yes, when I learned Russian, I did it the old-fashioned way. Now, we both say, “Bring on new ways like Duolingo!”
  2. Listening to Dutch radio. My favourite news station is BNR Nieuwsradio. It mainly focuses on national news, but it’s also helpful to hear international news. Funny thing is, I understand international news better in another language because there are certain terms reporters use that are universal.
  3. Watching Dutch comedy. I watch De Avondshow met Arjen Lubach clips on YouTube. I watch clips with both English and Dutch subtitles for the sake of both listening and reading Dutch.
  4. Have a Dutch Immersion Day once a month. If I’m going learn Dutch to a level where I am prepared to move there, it’s important to know that I’m going to hear Dutch all the time. Plus, I will have to adapt accordingly. My first Dutch Immersion Day is going to be in late March, when I am, hopefully at Level 2 in Duolingo.

More About Learning Dutch:

I’m going a bit beyond my first impressions here. I have an ultimate goal in mind, and that is to be able to read The Girl with the Pearl Earring in Dutch. Here’s to hoping I can make good progress on that goal this year!

One thing I do when I listen to the radio is close my eyes. That way, I can let my ear adjust to the pace of the language. I know when I move, I am going to need to ask people to speak a bit slower. Hopefully, getting used to conversational Dutch from the radio and Arjen Lubach’s comedy show will help me adjust quicker. I’m grateful that these days, you can get lots of media in another language. It’s something I never had learning a language in a classroom. There is a large gap between the classroom and the real world in a new language, and I am hoping greater access to media is helping learners to bridge that gap quicker. The good news: I have been doing this for less than a month and I am already picking things up!

After I move, I will have times when I am overwhelmed with Dutch. It’s normal, and I have to learn what to do during those times. I can feel overwhelmed when I am tired, sick, or anything. That’s why I am going to do a Dutch Immersion Day once a month (at least to start). I am still at a basic level, but we’ll see what happens.

Dutch vs German vs English:

Here are two things people ask me. 1. Does it help to know some German before learning Dutch? and 2. How socially acceptable is it to speak English? Here’s what I have found from my research and experience.

I took a German class for a term in school and picked up a bit by osmosis because I lived in an EU country for over a decade. It does help a bit to know some German, but there are significant differences in pronunciation. Fortunately, pronunciation is a strength for me. Every language teacher I have ever had has told me I have perfect pronunciation and the penny drops when I tell them I was a bilingual child. However, I am careful to NOT slip into German pronunciation. The standard advice I have got is this. If I forget a Dutch word or Dutch pronunciation, say it in English! It’s more socially acceptable to say it in English than in German.

There is still significant tension between the Dutch and the Germans after the two world wars. I want to respect that as I am learning Dutch. If my Mum or I catch each other with German pronunciation, we correct it! I’m pretty sure I will pick up German by osmosis again, but I might also pick up Flemish. In any case, I am considering learning German once I have moved to the Netherlands and I have a good grasp of the language. We might be living near the German or Belgian border because it’s cheaper. So, I will get what I will get!

Have you learned Dutch, or moved to another country where you had to learn a new language? Let’s discuss this in the comments!

If you want to see how I am progressing on Dutch and moving to the Netherlands, feel free to go to my page Netherlands for my posts on that (it’s new at the moment lol).

And the Answer is…

πŸ‡³πŸ‡±πŸ‡³πŸ‡±πŸ‡³πŸ‡± The Netherlands! πŸ‡³πŸ‡±πŸ‡³πŸ‡±πŸ‡³πŸ‡±

Here are my answer to Clue #3 and Clue #4.

The Netherlands Should Get First and Second Place!
I mean, even the Dutch army don't wear orange.
Sergeant Hurd is the BEST!

I have to admit any time I see Dutch athletes, I always say, “Even the Dutch army don’t wear orange!” The Olympics is so fun!

Congratulations to all who guessed correctly on my round of Where to Invade Next! You guys are good!

Some Other Updates:

The Netherlands isn’t going to be a permanent solution. It’s the best option in the EU for now. The Netherlands has the Dutch American Friendship Treaty which is a good pathway into migrating to the EU. I guess you never know when one of your passports will come in handy. I want to get my EU citizenship back, and the Netherlands doesn’t allow dual nationality. While I am living there, I will be able to assess different countries in the EU that do allow dual nationality and move to one of them someday. It shouldn’t be too hard to get permanent residence in the EU either. They might take into account that we have lived in the EU (including pre-Brexit Britain) for about 15 years. So, we might get fast-tracked to permanent residence. We are building a strategy, but we know laws can change at the drop of a hat.

I can’t say for sure when we will be moving, but it will definitely be sometime this year. Additionally, my Mum needs a hip and knee replacement this year. We are going to go to another country to get it because there is no way my Mum can get that surgery in Canada. There is a two-year waitlist, which she can’t get on yet because we don’t qualify for healthcare and she can’t wait that long to get it.

We also found out even Canadian citizens have to pay about $28,000 CAD for orthopedic surgery. Note: Other surgeries in Canada are paid for through the healthcare system, but orthopedic surgery has recently changed. It’s the most expensive type of surgery and now requirements for paying for it out-of-pocket are being implemented. We met someone recently who had gone to Lithuania for a hip and knee replacement at a fraction of the price and two months after the surgery, he was walking in the snow and ice!

Another note: this information keeps changing and it’s what we have found out right now. So, don’t take it as the Alpha and the Omega.

Future Posts:

Before I leave, I will do my best to finish my Parks Challenge. Additionally, I have a few other posts about Canada and expat/TCK life that I still want to do. I will also be doing posts on learning Dutch. I know that they learn English to a high level there, but so what? Moving to another country and not bothering to learn the language, or travelling without trying to learn some basic words and phrases of their language is rude. That’s a universal rule. Frankly, people like that get on my nerves and I question their upbringing.

Note: I am going to be honest about why we have had to leave. When I hear the Canadian government talking about how they want to welcome more immigrants, I laugh! There are problems on provincial and federal levels! We just got a survey from Statistics Canada about healthcare, and my Mum and I let them know if they want highly skilled migrants, they need to do a better job! Highly skilled migrants know how to compare countries and they will go elsewhere!

That being said, some of my readers seem to be under the impression that I don’t like Canada anymore. That’s absolutely not true! My emotions have been rather intense since concluding we had to move. It’s not the people or the culture that’s the problem. It’s immigration, healthcare and economic systems that are not in our favour. Although that seems to be true for anyone in Canada, regardless of whether they are citizens. I am going to come back to Canada for the eclipse in 2024, and for other things. Canada is one of my homes now, and I have no regrets at all about moving here!

Hope you are all doing well!