At the age of 34 (1980) I had to learn Dutch and to work in the language. I was monolingual prior to that date. It was the most difficult but most rewarding thing that I ever did. Here are the key factors:
▪️From a certain date my Dutch colleagues (all fluent in English) only spoke to me in Dutch.
▪️I lived not in an expatriate enclave but in a 100% Dutch community. Neighbours helped enormously.
▪️I took an interest in Dutch life – politics, culture, cuisine, festivals.
▪️I watched Dutch television and read a Dutch newspaper.
▪️I had a charming teacher who took me through the language not with text books but with chats and anecdotes.
Ten years ago as a Gamesmaker at London2012 I was assigned to the Dutch Olympic team. Despite the long gap I still (just) managed with the language. 😀
One thought on “On learning Dutch…”
Well done Paddy. Dutch is a very difficult language to learn.
I lived in France for some years and learned the language and immersed myself in the culture. However, I was always known as Les Anglias by my French friends never quite accepted. Moving in later life to Spain I have struggled with the Spanish. Even though I was taught it in school. (My headmaster admired Franco) It seems my brain always wants to commute to French when trying to speak Spanish. Fortunately, most Spanish people speak English but sadly not French.
The Spanish are also much more tolerant of foreigners that struggle with the language. Unlike the French who absolutely regard their language as a sacrosanct requirement.