Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Learning a new language - making it fun while I am at it.

My first level of Dutch learning ended last week. It was a great 6 week session learning a new language with a batch of people from all over the world. Some dropped out and most of us went along. Gradually we all got close - sharing stories of our countries, our culture, food - learning more than just a language in those 3 hourly classes thrice a week. Absolutely worth the time and money spent!

It was a small batch, almost like a private tuition

Left to right - Me Ruchi from India, Jade from Wales ( she did excellently well in chapters pertaining to food cause of her love for food ) , Panayis from Greece (known for the Greek salad he makes in his sea-side restaurant-bar in Greece which we sadly never tasted ), Lucille from Wales (the life of the batch. Even boring, dull days seemed happier with chirpy and caring Lucille around ), Teacher Michiele, Lucille, AET from Estonia ( always had an interesting story to share )

On the last day of the session we had a potluck and everyone got their local food. It was yummy afternoon.

Desserts from Wales

Fish and Bread from Estonia

Pork pie from Wales

Our Teacher Michiele H, was everything a student can hope for - motivating, encouraging, patient, one who made classes fun and easy. He had a keen interest in all the stories we shared about our respective countries or our daily lives and shared some of his own. Michiele always said that whatever we studied in the classroom was only 30% of the total effort needed to learn the language and I cannot agree more with him. Just attending a language class does not guarantee that one will learn it. A good teacher will just teach in an interesting way making the class un-boring however it needs a lot of practice outside the class to get a grasp of it.

Gladly having passed my Dutch classes with flying colors I feel I am qualified to share some tips which can be used effectively if one is serious about learning a new language:

  • Find excuses to use the language - More I speak the language the better I will get. Its as simple as that. I have started finding excuses to speak the language - with locals, at a party, in a restaurant, with a friend. I try and read the movie reviews in dutch ( even for bollywood movies )
  • Strengthening the vocabulary - Grammar comes gradually and especially if it is a difficult language like Dutch however by strengthening the vocabulary learning and understanding of the language becomes much easier. I learnt the top 2500 words most commonly used words in the language and that has been my strength in the language learning process. It was a pleasure to be well versed with the words being used in the class and that motivated me to learn more. So one of the best tips is to learn more and more words and build up the vocab.
  • Exposing yourself to the language in more ways than one  - reading ( web, magazines, children books, comics ), TV, movies ( most fun way of learning a language I think ), radio, youtube videos, songs, recipes for cooking are different interesting ways to increase exposure.
  • Make it fun for yourself - Learning happens faster if it is fun thus use or learn the language while having fun. My favorite way is to watch movies or read Tintin books in Dutch. I enjoy them and it feels like an accomplishment when I can understand them in a foreign language. 
  • Shed your ego - I will falter when using it as I am still learning it. I will sound like a retard to many Dutch proficient people. People might laugh. But the more I speak and more mistakes I make the quicker I learn. Thus I ensure I do not let ego pull me down in using it as often as I can.

It will be a long time before I can 'think in Dutch' or be proficient or speak like a local but I know I am closer to it with each passing day, with each new movie watched or with each Tintin story read. 

I begin my Dutch second level learning this week with a new teacher in a new school and I hope it will be as much fun and a rich learning experience as the last one.

No comments:

Post a Comment