Word learning: make it part of your daily life, and it comes naturally. 10 tips to get there and keep going, with little effort
Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Margreet Kwakernaak, author of Dutch for Dummies and 7 other Dutch textbooks
Word learning in daily life: use what’s around you
To start with word learning, read texts on billboards, in shops and stations, and on product packaging – Dutch is everywhere! As a consequence, look up words that you don’t understand or talk them over with friends and colleagues.
Next, download the free NOS news app and choose which notifications you want to receive on your phone: international news and sports are the easiest to understand- one sentence when you open your phone. When you make it part of your daily life, you’ll understand more and more.
When the news is not completely new, it’s easier to understand. DutchNews, in English, keeps you well informed.
Additionally, subtitled movies on TV and Netflix movies with translation to Dutch are great helps to learn new words. Don’t be discouraged when you understand just a bit- understanding everything can take years. Read the plot of the movie before and reread it after- to be sure that you understood the most important things.
Besides, social media are great to learn the everyday language. Start chatting! Make your sentence first and then use Google translate to check,
Also, parents may learn new words by watching Dutch children’s shows together with their kids.
Feed your motivation
Set small, concrete, and achievable goals for your word learning in daily life. Be proud of your first sentence in the shop, the first spelling of your name and address, and even more proud when you are understood. You learn the language for communication! Share your successes with relatives and friends.
Tell people around you that you are learning Dutch, and ask them to explain the words that you meet in your daily life, sentences, and incidents related to Dutch culture. Don’t discuss what is explained, but thank the person for the help.
Asking to be corrected may be tricky- some people are too demanding. Also, asking your (Dutch) partner to correct your Dutch may endanger the relationship. Do not expect your Dutch partner to be able to explain grammar to you, but talk (some) Dutch with him/her every day, it’s a golden opportunity!
Finally: keep moving to learn more words
When you use Google translate for your daily word learning, always type in the complete sentence or at least a group of words. Just like people, Google needs context to be able to give you the right translation.
Store newly learned words in your phone, and reread them with intervals of one day, then of several days, and thereafter several weeks- up to three months. Research has proved that you need to hear/read/write/say a word seven times before it is stored in your memory.
- You learn words by hearing, reading, and watching Dutch every day
- You stay motivated if you ask your environment to help you
- Be happy with every progress and every compliment
- Keep learning and repeating words.
These tips teach you how to find and learn new words, but how to remember them? Learn more in How to remember words – the seven steps
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