5 steps to speak Dutch fluently
When learning Dutch it is important, especially at the beginning, to focus on input, on listening and reading. However, just as is the case with most learners, you also want to be able to speak, and to speak well. You first need to determine for yourself : ' What are my speaking goals, and how do I get there?'
Listen a lot
I mean as much as an hour a day or more, just about every day. . Listen in your car and while doing chores around the house. Listen while exercising or running. Do not just sit down and focus on listening. Just listen "on the fly", taking advantage of "dead time" during the day.
Listening creates a body of experience for the brain. If the content is interesting, and the voice pleasing, listening creates an emotional connection with a language. Listening creates neural connections. It gives phrases, improves comprehension, lets hear the pronunciation ever more clearly, and gives momentum for eventually speaking.
Searching out content that is high resonance, interesting, sufficiently challenging for you without being too difficult, and above all enjoyable. Is important. It is best to start with short, easier content and graduate to longer more interesting content. There are many Dutch podcasts about even more subjects out there, the radio and some Dutch series also help a lot. Feel free to ask you trainer about those sources. We will gladly share the ones that are suitable for your level.
If you notice the content is a tad more difficult, make sure you have access to a transcript, it will make it easier to understand. This leads to the second important activity needed to develop the ability to speak well.
Read a lot
Reading is the best way to increase your vocabulary. Stephen Krashen and others have done considerable research on the power of reading.
So reading gives you words, individual words, and phrases, words in combination with other words. To express yourself you need words. To communicate you need to understand what the other person is saying, and this requires a large vocabulary, a large passive vocabulary. To have meaningful conversations with people, you need to understand what they are saying. This means that your passive vocabulary needs to be larger than your active vocabulary.
Of course you want to activate as much of your passive vocabulary as possible. But you will likely always have trouble using all the words that you know passively. You may be annoyed that you can't find words that you feel you know. But it doesn't matter. If you have the vocabulary and comprehension level to engage in lots of conversation, your speaking skills will gradually catch up and more and more of your passive vocabulary will be activated.
Most of the reading is at first limited to reading the transcripts or texts in the Dutch course. However, as you progress in the language, you develop the ability to read anything you want. Add yourself to Dutch Facebook groups and pages , follow Dutch people on Twitter or on Instagram, connect with Dutch people on Linked-In At that point the listening and reading diverge. Engage in both activities independently. This just builds up familiarity with the language, preparing for effective communication.
Listening when combined with reading will fill your brain with phrases you recognize and will eventually be able to use.
You may want to imitate out loud the odd word or phrase, while you are listening and reading. This is a form of this activity that is sometimes referred to as shadowing.Of course, they don't necessarily stick, but by deliberately noticing them, repeating them, wanting to be able to use them, at some point some of them stick.
When imitating what we hear, it is often more useful to focus on the rhythm, the intonation of the language, rather than on the pronunciation of individual words. You will acquire this through imitation. Doing so helps your pronunciation, and even makes our use of words more natural.
Writing is a great way to start producing the language.
A lot of the students at Learn Dutch Online try to avoid writing at all cost as it is the most time consuming practice during the course. However, those students that do write a lot , have proven to be more efficient while communicating later.
When you write, you have the time to look up words, to look up grammar rules, or revise your word order. You have more time to think things through. This no doubt prepares you for speaking. The difficulty is finding something meaningful to write about, but that is where the in-house developed courses of Learn Dutch Online come in handy. During the course you will get a sorts of writing exercises that you will use in your daily life or in your professional life as well. So if you want to start speaking, start by writing.
To speak well, you eventually have to speak a lot. If you can find someone near you to speak to in Dutch you are learning. The courses at Learn Dutch Online are laid out in such a way that you practice and learn the vocabulary about a certain theme first with you language trainer, so afterward you can use that vocabulary with your Dutch ' guinea pig'.
When you speak you shouldn't worry to much about your mistakes. Your Dutch language trainer will of course correct you and help you right, but when you speak to other natives at first focus mainly on communicating on his own and connecting with the person.
Effective communication, of course, doesn't mean perfect communication, nor error free communication. It just means communicating in a way that leaves both speaking partners feeling comfortable about the experience.
Would you like to practice conversational Dutch with a native trainer and get fluent? Contact us now for more information on our Dutch courses.