Category Archives: Tutoring languages and law

You should learn Dutch – Blog post

I love Dutch. It is an amazing language I really love. This post talks about why you should learn Dutch even if it is just the basics for a holiday.

What I have found so far….

I have been advertising Dutch language tuition for quite a while. I am surprised that I have had extremely few enquiries about it. This is very different from the other languages I offer. People seem to think that it is either not important or not needed. I however think Dutch is a very useful language. Anyone visiting the Netherlands or the Dutch speaking part of Belgium can benefit from learning Dutch.

How many people speak Dutch?

People often think Dutch is not a commonly spoken language. In fact around 24 million speakers speak Dutch.

Although it is a Germanic language, it is very different from German. It is an interesting language and sometimes strange looking. I absolutely love it.

Learning Dutch is also useful for a large part of Belgium. It is also spoken in some places outside of Netherlands and Belgium.

But I could get by without Dutch….

You can get by in English in big Dutch cities like Amsterdam. This is especially so if on holiday. In smaller towns and villages I have found people who are not very confident speaking English.

In any event the Dutch love it when you speak Dutch. It feels like they become instant best friends.

As find as working in the Netherlands, you could possibly get by in English. It depends on which company you work for. You could possibly get by in English if working for, say, an international company. However, if you would like to work for another company, Dutch is often required.

But Dutch people speak English….

Possibly you could get by without learning the language. However, to integrate into the country and truly understand the culture, knowing the Dutch language should not be underestimated.

Dutch people naturally talk Dutch amongst themselves. Most will accomodate foreigners for a while by speaking English. However it is understandable that after a while if the foreigner does not put a real effort into speaking Dutch.

Not wanting or trying to learn Dutch is a little strange. Afterall, the Netherlands has got its own language, culture and way of thinking. Trying to learn the language is an important way in which to understand their way of expressing themselves.

Learning Dutch feels good

Some people may say I am overgeneralising and probably I am. Regardless of the above, the joy you can get from speaking Dutch is amazing. Even if they recognise a foreign accent, they instantly smile when someone is making the effort.

Speaking Dutch allows you to make friends

If you wish for evidence of why to learn Dutch, just search online. Many people write that they find it difficult to make friends in the Netherlands. One of the main reasons is not trying to speak Dutch. Afterall, the Dutch are sadly used to many foreigners not making any effort at all. Creating friendships and bonds with new people is always easier when you can speak their language.

You could see the world from another country’s perspective

Other than meeting new people, you can also read news articles, online clips, etc. which give you another’s country’s perspective of the world.

Conclusion: You should learn Dutch!

To conclude, I hope the post has helped you to see why you should learn Dutch. Give Dutch a try even if you just go there on holidays. The locals will really appreciate you making the effort. There is literally nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Feel free to contact me with any comments or questions. I will reply to everyone.

For information about my foreign language tuition services click here.

Alternatively you may wish to look at my Facebook page or Twitter page.

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Why you need a tutor to learn a language

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I am admittedly a little biased, but I feel that you need a tutor to learn a language. Here I will explain why.

Over the years I have been teaching people, I have regularly come across:

  1. People who (before doing sessions with me) have struggled to learn a language, despite using books, apps, etc. Put simply, these people have spent countless hours trying to learn a language, but without real success.
  2. People who have never really tried to learn a language, because they perceive language learning as something too difficult for them. These people are often apprehensive and nervous when trying to learn a foreign language.
  3. People who have learnt lots of phrases, vocabulary, etc. but cannot hold a natural sounding conversation in a foreign language.

In either case there is a logical way to learn and an illogical way to learn.

Learning a language in the right way

I, as a tutor, regularly meet people who try to learn a language in inefficient ways. Most people approach language learning in the wrong way. Most people try to learn lists of vocabulary, but never learn how to put sentences together for themselves.

A lot of my role is showing people how to learn a language in a logical way, even if it is not initially perceived as the most fun way. This is one reason why you need a tutor to learn a language.

Why language apps do not work in the long term

Many people now use apps to learn a language. Apps can work alongside other learning, but are never a substitute for traditional study. Apps have the following problems:

  • Apps are designed to make you feel like you are progressing even if you are not. They make money from you continuing to use them or pay for upgrades. (They make money from you being shown adverts even if you don’t look at them). Their financial success depends on your perceived language progression and making you feel good. If you feel good you will keep using it and be shown more adverts. More adverts is more money for them. Most people’s actual progression using apps is probably a lot less than they think.
  • As apps work on your perceived language procession, it is not surprising that they usually test the most easy skills of all, the recognition skills. This usually involves you matching the words to the foreign language or asking you what is written. Testing your recognition skills is useful for reading and listening, but not for speaking or writing.
  • I, for example, can read a lot of Portuguese, but cannot speak a word, because I have never studied it. Most Portuguese language learning apps would probably tell me that I am very good at Portuguese. In reality I am terrible at it. I just recognise a lot.
  • Learning to speak the foreign language is usually what most people value most of all. This requires most of all good recollection skills. Remembering what to say and how to say it is naturally more difficult than simply recognising words. Apps do not usually test you much on recollection skills. When they do test recollection skills they usually give you reminders immediately before doing the ‘test’. When speaking in real life we do not get reminders just before we have a conversation.
  • Apps usually do not explain anything and when they do explain something the detail is almost always lacking. They almost never teach you how to make your own sentences using your own original thoughts. You have the choice of using their fixed phrases or not using the app at all.
  • Drilling of vocabulary is what some apps focus on. Learning vocabulary lists is great. Without knowing structure and how to put sentences together however the vocabulary is of limited use.
  • If you still feel that apps are great at teaching you a language, think about how much you can really say from memory. How prepared are you for variations on the sentences you have learned, etc.

Books may seem more boring, but can be more reliable

Books can have advantages over apps depending on their quality. Language books, especially in the UK, tend to oversimplify. They however usually have the advantage of explaining things in a way apps usually do not. The extent of explanation varies enormously amongst books.

Unlike a tutor explaining something to you in person a book cannot really check whether you have fully understood.

One drawback with books is reading is a far more easy skill for most people than speaking the language. If you can read a text you are testing your recognition skills, but not necessarily your recollection skills. Recollection skills, as mentioned above, are those that are vital for speaking.

Put simply, books can be useful and help you to understand the language. However, they do not fully test you on how much you can recall from memory. They also do not give you personalised feedback on your accuracy, accent, etc.

I, as a tutor, could help you in many ways books and apps cannot

As a tutor, unlike apps and books I can explain things to you in as much or as little detail as you need. Apps and books naturally cannot answer your own individual questions or respond to any personal difficulties you come across.

Some learners are visual learners. Others are more analytical. As a tutor I can adapt to and support your preferred learning style. Books and apps are designed for the mass market and can take little account of your existing  knowledge or what kind of learner you are. I however get to know your learning style and how you learn best.

I can teach people how to create sentences and how to change them. I want to people to understand how to create their own sentences, rather than need to use fixed, inflexible sentences.

I give people regular practical feedback on their progress. They also improve communication skills by regularly practising speaking skills. Confidence also grows by using the language through building up knowledge and experience using the language.

Conclusion

I am not saying that apps and books have no use when learning a language. However, they should not be seen as a substitute for a tutor. A tutor can give you pass on their knowledge and give you hands-on experience using the language.

For more information on how I could help you as a language tutor see my language tuition page.

Alternatively see my Facebook page or Twitter page.

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