Being a new student in English, I think it’s a great idea to ask about what brings us together – that is to say, the experience of learning a new language.
I am actually a language teacher myself. For the past eight years I have been teaching French in different countries including France, South Africa and finally the Netherlands. As a result, I am always very curious about the way we memorize words as well as how we dare to interact in a foreign language.
In the past I have learnt Spanish and English. I have also taken introduction classes in Arabic, Lingala (which is spoken in Congo) and Zulu. When I moved to the Netherlands I took a few Dutch classes as well.
The first tip I would give is to observe and listen carefully. I often picture myself in the role of an investigator when learning a language. Any opportunity is good to listen to people, observing the typical gestures they use and listening to the words they repeat. I remember when learning Zulu that I kept on hearing the word “sebenza” which means “to work”. Once I understood what it meant I kept on using it as much as I could.
The second tip would be to watch and analyse advertisements. They are based on short, catchy sentences. I find them quite easy to memorise, given that they consist of associating a good design with a relevant picture to serve the purpose of the message.
When it comes to speaking, if I am at a party or attending a social event, I take great pleasure in meeting someone who is keen to share a bit about his or her mother tongue. It is great to have the chance to ask such a person about words and typical phrases. It is even better when they agree to correct me if I need it.
As for building up my vocabulary, I enjoy writing new words down. While doing so, I try to build as many connections as I can. Being quite a visual person, I do find mind mapping very useful. As a result, I draw a lot of small maps, writing down the verb in the centre of it and linking nouns, adjectives and so on.
What’s exciting about finally speaking a language is that you get to measure your own progress effectively. It’s a bit like finally going on stage after spending hours rehearsing. It might work, or might not.
There is always a bit of excitement associated with it. You have to react, be quick and always be ready! At this point, any strategy can help – this is when tricks come into action!
If I don’t remember a word I rephrase my idea, use clear examples or even mimic things. I must confess that I sometimes make it up. I use French or Spanish to find my inspiration and try to create new words … It might sound like a lucky strike, but I found out that complex adverbs and concepts can be quite transparent in English.
The last trick I will reveal is, for me, the funniest. When I am not too sure of a sentence and don’t want to get caught red-handed, I pronounce my sentence quickly enough so that the person I am speaking with won’t notice. When it works, it is wonderful! When it doesn’t, I am left with someone with a puzzled expression on their face and the right to try it again.
To conclude, I would say that it is one of the most enjoyable adventures I have ever experienced. One cannot get bored while learning a language. There is always an undiscovered area to reach. As language is the mirror of society, the final tip I would give is to remain curious and always open-minded.
Aurelie Reynier, Kickstart Student
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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