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This post belongs to categories: Dutch language & Expat life in the Netherlands

Deutsch or Dutch?

 

Now looking back at it two months later, my “younger” self seems to be quite naive or maybe even a little bit dumb. I attended a language course in Germany as well, but it was quite easy and up until this point I did not fully realize what it means to live in another country with a different language.

Borders and Barriers

Stop roadsign while train passesWhen I came here I realized what the real border between the countries is: Language. Even though it may be easier to learn a similar language to your own, you cannot live as a part of a nation without speaking their language.

In the first weeks I did not understand very much and I felt left out; when I walked the streets, I saw a silent movie which I was not involved in.

For me the language was silence, because I could not gain anything from what people were saying. Language is the biggest difference between countries and so many other things depend on it. Learning a new language means getting to know a new culture with different traditions, another worldview or even reality and especially a different focus in life.

Words and Culture

You also learn more about your own first language and how some things can be described differently.

For example, the word fietsen; in German there is no fitting translation for this verb. You can just say “I ride my bike”, but this would be a completely different sentence. The Netherlands is famous for their biking culture and it is logical that they have a different set of words to describe it. In Germany or other countries, you also have bicycles, but the people have a different focus in life and language.

When you learn a new language you will change as a person and you get a completely new view of your old and new culture. It is by learning the native language of a country that you can feel more at home in a new country.

Same But Different

German dictionary open to letter SHow can I learn a language which is similar to my mother tongue, but also not?

To be honest, German people have a big advantage over other people learning Dutch. For me, even the word “Dutch” sounds so Deutsch that I have to think twice if it is German or Nederlands.

The first thing I learnt about the Dutch language is that it is a mix of German and English. That is another advantage for me, because I can speak both of those languages, more or less.

The structure of a sentence is the same as in German which may be the biggest similarity, however it does not make it easier when the spelling of the words is the same but the meanings are unfortunately completely different.

My biggest problem is the pronunciation of the Dutch words. The scratched “g” and the sharp “s” – it´s like learning speaking once again and I am quite sure that this “g” cannot be good for my throat, because I, as a German, do not have the physical precondition to make a sound like this.

Nevertheless, I try my best and the most important thing about learning a new language is exactly that. Do not be afraid of getting something wrong, try and try again, listen to other people, music or films, read and when nothing else works: Just say some German words like you are Dutch.  Sounds funny, but Dutch is more Deutsch than I ever thought before!

Lisa Sternemann, Kickstart Student

 What our students say about us

  • My experience with Kickstart has been highly beneficial in both developing language skills and improving my knowledge of the Dutch culture. Josien's support is always spot on and very intuitive in relation to personal circumstances. She spends a lot more than the official time allocated to really get to know her clients and her approach is customised accordingly. She was recommended to me by other Shell colleagues who expressed the same sentiment and I was fortunate enough to benefit from this during the time I spent with her.

    Vennasa van de Ven, Migration Manager working at Shell

  • Entering the Kickstart school premises alone gives you a push of energy and the commitment this will help to create is hardly unmatched in any other language school. The methodology and the approach used in the lessons also helps smoothly unlock the secrets of everyday Dutch. Kickstart School has helped me get in touch with the 'undutchable' culture of the Netherlands and its people. The individual language training I could experience at Kickstart School has been one of the best educational experiences I could have in Europe.

    Alessandro d’Addario, European Law Enforcement 

  • I really enjoyed my English lessons with the Kickstart School. The teacher was professional and really knew the subject. The way they teach is also great! The classes are presented in a clear and professional manner and the online exercises completed at home are very helpful. The teacher always provided useful feedback. It's a great experience to join a Kickstart course with such a friendly atmosphere of students and teachers.

    Beatriz Pedroche, Spain 

  • Kickstart has been the ideal place for me to learn. The teachers are very helpful and friendly and have always gone the "extra mile" to help me learn in a positive way. Their teaching is practical with elements that can immediately be applied to everyday living situations. Included in the lessons are cultural aspects of living in the Netherlands that make learning Dutch dynamic and fun; you learn the language and about the place and the people! The teachers took an active interest in my progress and provided valuable customized sessions that maintained my strengths and developed my weaknesses; all in a patient, fun and friendly style.

    Graeme Ting, dentist from New Zealand 

  • My first contact with Kickstart School was after 1 month of living in The Netherlands, when I started to study Dutch. At the time I didn’t have any knowledge of the language, but with their courses organized by levels I developed important language skills and learned about the Dutch culture. They all do a great job at Kickstart because their motto it’s not just a motto – they are really pleased to teach you. You learn a language in a friendly atmosphere, make new friends from all over the world, and all in a cosy building right in the heart of The Hague.

    Anca Boros, mathematics and physics teacher from Romania

  • During my time with Kickstart I have learned a lot and gained confidence. I was always challenged by the interesting assignments, but never too much. I have really enjoyed the classes!

    Sabine de Bruijn, Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

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