Learning a language is never easy, and it can certainly take a lot of time, effort, and energy to master a second or third language. However, a second language is a skill that can seriously help when searching for a job, moving up through the ranks at work, and especially in day to day activities. We talked with Albert Both, who created Talencoach. Dedicated to teaching motivated and inspired students Dutch, Albert showed us a real desire and passion for language that I, personally, have never seen before.
What kind of struggle is experienced by your students when learning Dutch?
If you'd like to learn Dutch, then there are many struggles. Learning a new language is always a challenge. Most people are too optimistic and tend to underestimate the effort that it really takes. They think that you can learn it after work, when you already feel tired, spending only one hour per week.
There are a couple of other things that are massively important. First of all, you need absolute clarity. You can never really learn things that you do not understand. Simply repeating dialogues from a CD never works. You have to understand a system and it works even better if you can see Dutch as a logical, consistent and even funny language. Most people that struggle with Dutch erroneously think that Dutch is illogical and that it has no rules, but the exact opposite is true, certainly if you compare Dutch to other languages.
Another key thing is that you feel good while learning it. If you feel positive about yourself while learning, then you'll learn Dutch a lot faster. If you have fun and if you make progress quickly, then learning Dutch turns into an exciting adventure. Sure, it may give you some challenges from time to time, but you’ll feel fulfilled because of all the new discoveries that you make.
Another factor is momentum. If you launch a rocket, it will use half of its fuel during the launch. But once it's flying in space, it needs a lot less energy to keep going. It's exactly the same when speaking Dutch. You need to launch your Dutch language rocket during a short period, and once it flies it can fly a whole lifetime!
Last but not least, make sure that you set high goals. Don’t learn Dutch for just buying cheese or stroopwafels. Decide that you want to master loads and loads of Dutch and always include humour! The second that you start to play with Dutch humour, everything will be different!
How important is it to become enveloped in a countries culture in order to learn the language?
If you speak Dutch, then finally you do not walk around in your bubble any more. You do not have to feel left out and you can participate to the fullest. If you live in the Netherlands, then you probably like the country. Just see Dutch as a way to really get to know what is happening around you each and every day.
In the end, speaking Dutch simply means more freedom. It means that you can do your things without having to depend on somebody else. On top of that, imagine that you would like to have a new job after let’s say 2 or 3 jobs… For many interesting jobs, somehow you do need Dutch, certainly if you like to participate in kantoorpolitiek (office politics). The most important thing is that when you speak Dutch, you will feel at home, and somehow it makes life nicer.
What sort of people take up your programs? Do you find you have customers from a consistent age bracket?
I work with many people that have done other language courses before. Many of my students one day realise that Dutch is something important to master, certainly if they start having kids or when they buy a new house. Normally, people are quite young, between 30 and 40, but older people might realise that they really like to stay in the Netherlands. Some people find the time once they are retired!
However, I don't think the age difference matters. Most of my students are very curious and come with an open mind, eager to learn many great things. It is imperative that my students love fun and humour. If you like to play with Dutch humour, it is important that one essential element is sex and that many people love sarcasm… once they see the fun of it, they love it and somehow while laughing out loud they really learn like crazy!
How helpful is your eBook in helping ease the learning process? Have you received a lot of good feedback on it?
Many people that struggle with the Dutch languages have many misconceptions. They tend to stick to one book or one method, even if it does not work for them. The eBook is an amazing thing, because it is written in English, you won’t find so much about Dutch grammar or loads of Dutch vocabulary. But, once you start reading it, you’ll realise that it is possible for you and that it can be easier than you ever imagined. Some important factors that it covers are psychology and clarity. It's about helping you reach the right mindset and what you need to avoid.
What impact have you seen your services have on the employability of students?
Speaking Dutch is a great confidence booster. You’ll get more sympathy from colleagues and employers if you speak Dutch. On top of that, my students find it easier to work with Dutch people or clients. There is no faster way to learn a culture than by learning the language. Once you feel more at ease, many things can be different.
It will always take a longer time before you can start to use your Dutch on a high professional level. I will never ever promise that within 7 days your Dutch will be fluent and impeccable. It takes practice and it takes time. If you look on a longer term, certainly if you think in some years, then somehow there can be many new possibilities. The fact alone that you meet new people, that you can understand everything that they say… you will not miss essential information any more…
What other benefits are their to learning a second language?
I love to say that speaking Dutch is only a minor benefit of learning Dutch. Most people don’t understand it when I say this, but if you give it a second thought, it really makes sense.
First of all, you’ll end up speaking Dutch after some time. It's easier to connect, and you'll learn more context about certain things. However, there is another important thing that most people overlook. I like to call it immediate benefits. I love immediate benefits, because they are really great. You can enjoy results sometimes within hours when you start to learn a new language.
Learning Dutch will put you into a mode where you’ll discover that it is okay to play, experiment, and make mistakes. If you know how to do it, it takes away a lot of stress and many people discover that they have been too serious about many things, and certainly learning. People get in touch with a gentle flow of creativity and start to discover that learning something new is actually a game, where you solve little puzzles and riddles. As long as you are involved, you will learn new things like crazy!
The second immediate benefit is that you become much more aware of the English language (or your own language). You’ll start to see great and funny things that make your language special and you’ll find new ways to express yourself and communicate. One of the first things that happen is that you start to become more aware of certain words and sentence constructions that you are using. When you want to learn Dutch, you always need to expand your mind. This means that your perspective starts to change. All of a sudden, when it comes to language, you’ll hear more and much more is possible.
Talencoach holds several workshops through the year. What process do you go through in these workshops, and how successful are they?
The workshop 'Finding Dutch Flow' is a workshop that puts you in great energy. All of sudden, people realise that what can stand in the way is you and if you step out of the way, new things are possible. Learning a new language has nothing to do with studying hard, but it works fantastic if you use a powerful playful attitude.
The workshop is free and helps people discover what can slow you down, what the obstacles are and why it is important that you never blame yourself, even if you feel highly dissatisfied about your own results. Then, the most important thing is how you can learn at least 7 times faster and how you can speak far more Dutch than you ever imagined. There is a special process at the end of the workshop that show how profound the effect can really be.
There is also an invitation for a 7 days 'Dutch Brainwash,' but this is only for those who are really motivated. It is important for me that the people I work with really go for it. Many people find it hard to take days off from work or to make a bigger commitment for the next step. In that sense, the free workshop is also a selection instrument. Nothing works better than working in a group with people that are highly motivated, love fun, and really want to achieve a next level. You’ll notice the energy, but it can only be there when people are committed. That would also be my last tip for my readers. Group lessons work better than individual sessions, and if you have the right people in a small group, it really feels like being with a group of nice friends and you’ll feel so relaxed. And when you feel relaxed and inspired, then the real magic can happen!
What advice can you offer to help out beginners?
In the beginning you should listen to Dutch as much as you can. It is one of the closest languages to English, so if you play a little, you should be able to pick up a lot. Don’t worry too much about having the correct pronunciation. It will get better when you start understanding certain principles of the Dutch language. Don’t feel discouraged if the contents of your language course is too overwhelming. Most language courses are not constructed in a logical way that allow you to swallow the essential information step by step. If a language method does not feel good, then find another one. You can only achieve great results if you love the course that you are doing. Don’t buy into boring classes, because they are cheap or paid by the municipality.
If you're learning a language for the very first time, you’ll get many surprises. Just be open to the possibility that learning a new language can be totally different from what you expected in the first place!
I really enjoyed speaking with Albert about Talencoach and about learning Dutch in the Netherlands. I hope you can see his passion for learning, as well as how much he can offer in helping you become a Dutch speaker. If you are interested in taking part in the free workshops offered by Talencoach or their free eBook, you can find more information on these services at: http://talencoach.nl/