Have you noticed that sometimes it seems that there is no real relation between learning Dutch and speaking Dutch? If so, then congratulations! You’ve already made your first step towards Dutch fluency. Albert Both from Talencoach explains.

You got a very important insight now: learning Dutch and speaking Dutch for real can be completely two different things. So, what do you do if you have been learning Dutch and you want to make that switch to speaking Dutch? Here are some tricks that could help.

Three questions to help your DutchLet’s start with a simple test. Below are three questions in Dutch; how easy is it for you to answer these questions? Could you answer them in Dutch?

Kom je uit Nederland? Spreek je Nederlands? Wil je seks met een krokodil? Hopefully, you found the first two questions easy to answer. The first question means “Are you from the Netherlands?” which you can answer ja if yes and nee if no. Question two means “Do you speak Dutch?” which you can also answer with ja or nee.

But how did you find the third question? It should be easy to understand, right? Do you want (or would you like) to have sex with a crocodile? Believe it or not, this question is also very easy to answer. If you like the idea, you say ja, if you don’t want to have sex with a crocodile, then you simply say nee.

However, here is the funny thing, many people would have difficulties answering the third question. Would that also be the case for you? The question then is: why? Why is the third question more difficult?

You might argue that “Kom je uit Nederland?” and “Spreek je Nederlands?” are questions that you’ll hear often in the Netherlands. I must admit that no one has ever asked me “Wil je seks met een krokodil?” However, that is not the point; the question is: can you be flexible with your mind? Can you think outside the box and know what to say when you hear a question that you do not expect?

Learning Dutch doesn’t have to be so seriousThe sad truth is that most people are too serious when they learn a new language. They study “staged” dialogues and commit extensive vocabulary lists to memory. Although these might seem like great ideas, the positive effect is often quite insignificant. Hopefully, you’ve already discovered the simple truth: speaking a new language has nothing to do with parroting some sentences and words that you memorised by heart once upon a time.

Dutch fluency is all about flexibility, fun, freedom and playfulness; the ability to talk about anything you like, even when it is about sex with a crocodile. If you’d like to become fluent fast, then you need to talk a lot of nonsense first. I like to call this DFBS: the Dutch Fluency Bullshit Technique.

So once, again, what could you say if someone asks you, “Wil je seks met een krokodil?” Here are a couple of options:

Nee! Nee! Dat is risicovol! Een krokodil bijt! Ja. Ik vind seks met een krokodil lekker Ja… Seks met een krokodil is een wild en fantastisch avontuur! Whether you want to have sex with a crocodile or not, you can use questions like this to start creating your first sentences, while having outrageous fun! By the way, a lot of people believe that if you say something in Dutch, it must always be true or, at least, accurate. Luckily nothing could be further away from the truth!

If you say something in Dutch, why should it always be true and accurate? Stupid sentences are a great way to learn, as long as you apply grammar rules and new words!

Get rid of your inhibitions and start speaking Dutch for realOne of the things that stand in the way of fluency is your inhibitions. These are feelings and thoughts that slow down your progress. Your mind can have a very negative impact on your results and a lot of people are constantly worried that they are not good enough, and aren’t cut out for learning another language.

This is why feeling positive emotions is highly important when you are learning and speaking Dutch. Outrageous fun and humour can help because you stop taking yourself too seriously and can simply relax. When you make mistakes, you don’t care anymore, you just laugh like crazy and you learn from it.

Also, when you use humour, it makes you emotionally involved. All of a sudden you feel more engaged, and you feel free to experiment and play around. It becomes easy to take “risks” and you greatly enhance your learning.

Humour is the key to learningHumour is often called the highest form of intelligence and sometimes it is even called a high form of spirituality. For understanding and playing with humour, you need two things: you need to understand structure, but you need to be creative and flexible at the same time.

There is one thing that I always find when I look at most language courses: the total absence of humour. Most of the time, they are so official, boring and serious!

So why are most courses so boring and deprived of any thinkable fun? First of all, it is what most people expect. It is also the “safe” way, because if you do not use humour then you will probably not offend anyone. If you ask people if they like sex with a crocodile, then some people might be shocked. Others may feel pity for the crocodile. It could certainly lead to a heavy debate and serious people will always argue that it is not a relevant topic in daily conversations and that questions like that should not be asked.

Don’t limit yourself when learning DutchIf you look at most language courses, they are classified as A1, A2, B1, etc. If you start with A1 you will learn how to say your name, give your address and name some foods that you like. But why limit yourself? When you start from the very beginning, you can talk about anything you like. You could say for example, “Is de bitcoin een goede investering?” or “Heeft religie een positieve rol?”

From the very beginning, you can start to talk about the economy or religion. Actually, the shocking truth is that you can start your conversation about any topic that you like!

This is what can happen if you use the power of unexpected questions. There is only one thing that counts: can you quickly put a sentence together in Dutch and say it quickly? What most people don’t know is that often the topic that you talk about does not even matter. You just need to be able to put a Dutch sentence together and react fast, to any topic that comes up, and stupid questions can really help to achieve this.

Do you want to be able to express yourself freely and learn to communicate in Dutch quickly and effectively? Get in touch with Albert at [email protected] or sign up for Talencoach’s Dutch Brainwash programme – an intensive seven-day Dutch course in the centre of Amsterdam.

You can also: 

Download the e-book “3 Steps to Dutch flow” Download the e-book “Why You Hate Learning Dutch and 7 Secrets to Change It” Visit the website Talencoach.nl Check out the Facebook page Watch videos on YouTube All free of charge!

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