In my years of experience of teaching Dutch in Slovakia I have noticed many things about learning styles, motivation, reasons for studying Dutch, what’s easy and what’s hard, the best exercises depending on the goal of individual students, etc. Here are 5 of the most obvious things I have noticed. Is learning Dutch difficult? I honestly have to say: once you get the hang of pronouncing the odd sounding words it’s fairly easy.
1. Dutch is much easier to learn than German
My students are able to learn how to speak Dutch fluently about most every day topics in about half a year with just an hour of Dutch per week. Perhaps Slovaks are just very talented at learning languages, but the same is not true for German.
2. When Slovaks already know some German then learning Dutch is simply a breeze
I have come to think of Dutch as some simplified variant of German. The grammar is a whole lot easier to get the knack of in almost every aspect. The vocabulary is very similar as well.
3. Belgium and the Netherlands have a lot in common with Slovakia
On the surface one may think that these cultures must be worlds apart, but that’s simply not true. There are many similiarities. Of course there are differences, but they are subtle.
4. With the right method new students start speaking Dutch immediately
Over the years I have developped a system that allows students to speak from the get go. I am always amazed at how much progress new students make. Again, this could be because Slovaks have a natural talent for learning languages or they have more motivation, but I think the traditional ‘highschool’ way of teaching languages is ineffective. What we cover in ten lessons would take at least an entire school year in highschool. This isn’t because I want to brag about what brilliant students I have. It’s just a fact.
5. Knowing Dutch is a big plus on the job market
Whether you stay in Slovakia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland or Hungary or decide to move to Belgium or the Netherlands it’s always an asset to know Dutch. There are companies looking for people who have at least the basics of Dutch. Apparently there are quite some business dealings between this region and Belgium and The Netherlands.
In my experience Slovaks who move to the Benelux countries always find a job.
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