Help - I don't think I'm capable of learning. :-(

Ideas for learning Dutch. What have you tried? What worked for you? What did not work for you?
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Visje
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Help - I don't think I'm capable of learning. :-(

Post by Visje » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:39 am

So I'm here and trying so hard to learn Dutch. My soulmate is here, and so is my future, so learning is critical for me. I started formal classes last November. Before that, I was using the internet to teach myself while my boyfriend was at work, and making great progress. The only drawback of doing it myself was that I worried about teaching myself bad habits. So I enrolled in a 2 week intensive class.

Big mistake. The teacher had a personality that I clashed with completely. I was expecting good things out of this class, as I did extremely well in my Spanish classes when I was in university, and graduated Magna Cum Laude. So I certainly didn't think I was stupid. This teacher put huge emphasis on error correction via humiliation. For example, for one exercise we did, she gave a bell to everyone in the class and told people to ring it if someone makes a mistake. I was so scared of getting the bell that I lost focus. During a presentation, I made a mistake with inversion, she called me stupid in front of the class, and I ran out in tears. Basically, I was regularly verbally abused my both of my parents growing up, so I tend not to take criticism well. I learn much better from teachers who don't have such a serious personality. I spent more time each day doing homework than I spent in class, and the teacher hated me.

Once that class was finished, I did start a program where I go in a few hours a week, listen to tapes in a lab-type setting, do homework, and the teacher grades it. It's better for me, as I became too traumatized to speak in front of a group. However, that first class experience was so horrible that I don't feel like I can learn Dutch. Not just that, but doing the homework is a miserable experience for me, and I feel completely demotivated. I have an oral exam for this program tomorrow, I'm dreading it, and I'm sure I'm going to bomb it and then feel stupid again. Furthermore, I would think that after 3 months of working hard to learn Dutch that I would be able to follow basic conversations, however I'm still so lost with everything. Last night while trying to do homework, I broke down in tears. And it's normal for me to get such bad tension headaches while studying that I can't continue.

I won't be at this program for that long, as I have just gotten my residence permit, I submitted my details to the Gemeente at the end of last week, so I'm waiting on my summons to start inburgering, no idea how long that will take, does anyone know? I'm dreading that though. I don't want to be stuck in another group class that feels like hell on Earth for me. I plan on going all the way to NT2-II level, but I don't want to go through 2 years of so much more stress than I ever had in university.

So I'm scared. My boyfriend is very supportive and says he loves me no matter what, but I doubt that he'll say that in 2 years if I'm still only an English speaker and therefore unemployable. Basically, right now my level of Dutch is that I can do basic shopping and hold conversations as long as they aren't too complicated or last more than a few minutes. I want to learn, but I'm burned out about how to do it. And I think the fact that learning Dutch is so much more critical for me than most other things in my life puts a major amount of stress on me, and my brain can't function anymore.

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Re: Help - I don't think I'm capable of learning. :-(

Post by Quetzal » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:39 pm

Welcome to the site!

My first reaction after reading your post is that it sounds like you are putting far too much pressure on yourself. And so the obvious suggestion is to take a few steps back and dial down your efforts. Everybody learns at their own pace, though it sounds like you could learn at a fast enough pace if it was in a way that you felt comfortable with. Taking a break and then taking your time to find a learning method that you like and function well in will ultimately be far more rewarding than desperately trying to make progress now. :)

I can't help you with the inburgering (incidentally, it's funny how "gemeente" and "inburgering" are two words no Dutch learner ever translates...), as I'm not even Dutch, but we have a forum dedicated purely to that, and a forum member who teaches NT2 and knows all about all that stuff (though he has so many bad experiences with muncipality folks leading learners down the wrong path that he can be a tad brusque when discussing the subject).

I think it's silly to think you'd be "unemployable" if you don't speak fluent Dutch, though (and it's even sillier to think your boyfriend would stop loving you because of that). It depends a bit on where you live, admittedly, but in Amsterdam for instance, I heard almost more English than Dutch in some streets, or was addressed in English automatically in shops and the like. There's plenty of foreigners in the Netherlands whose Dutch is limited, and they still manage to find jobs - especially if their native language is English and they have a university degree. Of course speaking Dutch increases the possibilities exponentially, but most of those don't require perfect impeccable Dutch, either.

I hope you'll find the resources on this site useful, and as you may have noticed we try to answer questions and correct texts as fast as possible, we don't always succeed but generally you'll get feedback within a day or so, often much quicker. If you're nervous about speaking in front of people but still want to practice pronunciation, you can just record yourself and ask for feedback on that, might be easier that way. Or find someone to Skype-chat with.

Visje
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Re: Help - I don't think I'm capable of learning. :-(

Post by Visje » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:11 pm

I just have a lot of anxiety around learning. It does feel important, and I'm not sure what's normal.

What is certain right now is that I feel completely demotivated. I didn't do as well on my oral exam today as I had hoped. And when I was at the grocery store just now, something that I can do perfectly fine in Dutch, she still switches to English with me, and the cashier did this to me yesterday too! After nothing but busting my ass since November I would like to have a chance to use what I learned, and besides, people can't accuse foreigners of not trying to learn Dutch if they don't give them an opportunity to practice!! I do know that most people are trying to be helpful, but in reality, it has the opposite effect if someone speaks English with someone when they're not asked to. And in a way it feels like some people are saying that I suck, so don't even bother. I'll never be a member of "the club" anyway. I tend to feel very insecure about this too as feeling included is kind of an important part of setting down roots somewhere new. I'm trying for all of this to not feel like an insult to my efforts, but it does. :-(

And I'm about to be stuck with inburgering where I don't think I get to choose my learning method, all I can do is bring along my boyfriend to the intake meeting so that he can explain to them that I get learning anxiety and hope they match me with a good teacher.

As for jobs, I'm in Rotterdam, but the BF did say that if I really can't learn we'll just move to Amsterdam.

As for language issues, even though I did move here for love, I still don't want to be stuck in the expat bubble. Right now, I just can't stop thinking about how I wish that the standard was for people to not speak English with foreigners unless asked. I really love it here, and I am determined to make it work. Besides, my boyfriend and I plan on having kids in 3 years or so, and they'll have much better opportunities here than they would in my home country, as well as a much more sound attitude and better values. But if I did have to search hard for one bad thing about being here, my experience learning the language is it. From mean teachers to so few opportunities to practice that I might as well be in my home country, well, trying to get my motivation back here. Right now, continuously fighting back tears and trying not to give up.

Visje
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Re: Help - I don't think I'm capable of learning. :-(

Post by Visje » Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:53 pm

I think I feel a bit better now, I've decided that from now on my line with strangers if I'm going about my business and my Dutch is sufficient enough for it is "Nederlands is makkelijker dan Engels voor mij."

That said, for those of you who have learned Dutch, how long did it take? And what did you do to keep your sanity while learning? Just trying to figure out what's normal.

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Re: Help - I don't think I'm capable of learning. :-(

Post by Quetzal » Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:57 pm

If it's any comfort, what you mention is a huge source of frustration for just about every Anglophone or Francophone learner of Dutch on this forum and outside it (and for some who don't even speak those languages), it absolutely doesn't mean anything about the quality of your Dutch. Most Dutch (and Flemish) people have this irresistible urge to switch languages to accommodate their conversation partner - even when their conversation partner never asked for that and doesn't even want it. It's part showing-off, part longstanding habit of communicating with people who don't speak Dutch and have no interest in learning it. Don't be afraid to insist and continue speaking Dutch - most people should get the point after a while, though I'm sure some are too stubborn.

Or you could pretend that your native language is Finnish or Hungarian or some such and that you don't speak a word of English, that might help too. ;)

I'm sure you can find plenty of jobs in Rotterdam - it's still one of the world's largest ports, there are bound to be loads of jobs for people with native English and less-than-perfect Dutch. Your Spanish might be of use, as well. When I said it depended on where you were, I thought maybe you were in some small village in Limburg or Groningen or so - Rotterdam should do nearly as well as Amsterdam.

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Re: Help - I don't think I'm capable of learning. :-(

Post by ngonyama » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:20 am

A bell? ... Seriously.. :?

Verder: gewoon doorgaan Visje. Ieder woord is er één! Ieder zinnetje is weer een zinnetje..

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Re: Help - I don't think I'm capable of learning. :-(

Post by Shazzy » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:50 pm

Hello Visje

I know how you feel. My mother was Dutch and she never brought us up speaking Dutch. When I was 21 I wanted to learn so went to a class but my mother would not practice with me and just laughed at me when I tried to practice and this put me off learning. for years I wanted to learn and to learn well. Then when I was 28 I got married to a man who spoke better Dutch than me which was good and bad. He enouraged me to go to classes again and I did but could never get passed a beginners level..... so alough I spoke basic Dutch it was not until my nother died in 2009 that I decided I wanted to try again and this time siged up with "The Dutch Language School" in Oxford and their courses are fantastic and I have learnt so much. This summer I am doing my first exam GCSE at the age of 51 =D> My course is brilliant but.... it does not give much on spekaing Dutch so I decided to try and find a teacher who can help me with speaking and I found Yorien in Grongingen who teaces me over Skype. She is fun and a fantastic teacher. She also does small email courses whic are great. Perhaps one of her courses might help you. Check her out at http://www.sayitindutch.com and also she sells DVD's for the NT2 courses in reading, listening, verbs, vocabulary and speaking and they are brilliant.

I hope this has helped. I believe if I can learn Dutch well then so can you with the right encouragment.

Shazzy

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Re: Help - I don't think I'm capable of learning. :-(

Post by Gules » Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:16 am

Hi Visje,

I am a native English speaker. I randomly decided to start learning Dutch just last Autumn. I started using the Rosetta Stone approach at first--to get my feet wet. I only worked through the first few lessons before deciding I needed a more "thorough" understanding. I then found this forum, and I used the lessons alongside Google Docs. I began making spreadsheets to help myself comprehend the individual components of sentence structure. I started with the little I had learned from Rosetta Stone and the lessons from this community. I submersed myself in verbs and conjugation.

I bounced around with learning little "exceptions" in word order. I told myself that vocabulary would be the last I begin learning. I am still learning and have a long way to go but I still have the drive. My suggestion echoes what some people have mentioned above me: Try not to make learning Dutch your main priority in life (even if it technically is). Regarding having the motivation to learn, I think you may be burnt out right now (as some may have mentioned above me). Take some time to relax. Progress lightly and try to develop a learning plan.

Feel free to message me if you would like to take a look at some of the learning documents I have made to aid learning. I would be pleased to share. Best wishes!

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Re: Help - I don't think I'm capable of learning. :-(

Post by Shazzy » Sat Mar 24, 2012 1:12 pm

Waar woont je Gules? Ik woon op Isle of Wight. Het ligt in de zuid van Engeland.
Ik studeer met "The Dutch Language School" in Oxford.
Deze zomer zit ik de GCSE examen in Oxford.
Ik spreekt ook met Yorien elke week van Grongingen over skype. Dit is heel leuk.
Ze is een docent voor praten maar ze heeft ook een kleine email curses. Dit is erg goedkoop en uitstekend
Joke ook heeft lessen geschreven. Deze lessen zijn uitstekend. (in the audio area)
Ik heb interessant in je studie materieel. Misschien kunnen wij delen met elkaar.

(Not sure how good this is but I wrote it from my head to see if I could actually do it without the help of a dictionary. Not sure wat level your Dutch is. I do have a good document on word order if you are interested with loads of exercises on it.)

Shazzy x

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Re: Help - I don't think I'm capable of learning. :-(

Post by josebyofm » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:12 am

I experienced something similar to this, though not exactly the same. I am here now for three months. There were two of us from India who were living with a group of people all of whom who spoke Dutch and English. Since we wanted to learn Dutch, the Dutch friends were speaking to us in Dutch. But, my friend was able to understand and respond faster than me, and the Dutch friends started increasing their pace of speaking to us in Dutch. It became so difficult for me because I felt that I was not underestanding anything while the other person was able to understand. So, finally I told that I have to leave the place and go to another place where I can learn at my own pace. Now, I feel better with the learning and I am doing much better. If I were there with the other person I definitely would not have learned as I am doing now.
So, definitely you dont have to try moving at the pace of others. You have to follow your own pace.

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Re: Help - I don't think I'm capable of learning. :-(

Post by josebyofm » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:18 am

If you are in Amsterdam there is a course offered in PACE instituite at Wibautstraat 129 IV. The course has just begun. We have completed around 3 classes so far, and I think this is the best time to join the course. I am really benefitting from the course. Hope this helps you. God bless.

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