12/11/2013 17:50

Advice for (Dutch) language learners

Try to make the facts of language learning work for you, not against you. Exposure to the language, for instance, works in your favor. So create exposure.

  • Read books in the target language.
  • Better yet, read comics and magazines. (They're easier, more colloquial, and easier to incorporate into your weekly routine.)
  • Buy music that's sung in it; play it while you're doing other things.
  • Read websites and participate in newsgroups that use it.
  • Play language tapes in your car. If you have none, make some for yourself.
  • Hang out in the neighborhood where they speak it.
  • Try it out with anyone you know who speaks it. If necessary, go make new friends.
  • Seek out opportunities to work using the language.
  • Babysit a child, or hire a sitter, who speaks the language.
  • Take notes in your classes or at meetings in the language.
  • Marry a speaker of the language. (Warning: marry someone patient: some people want you to know their language-- they don't want to teach it. Also, this strategy is tricky for multiple languages.)

And since motivation works in your favor, create motivation.

  • For your reading, read things you're interested in. I think many people are turned off by languages because teachers foist works on them that they'd never read in their own language. Pop culture is often the best choice... there's a reason pop culture is popular: it's easy to digest. But if it's 17th century madrigals or tax law that turns you on, read those.
  • Don't hang out with Americans here; go talk to the locals. Panic is very motivating.