Learning a new language is not the simplest of tasks. Although I always enjoyed French class in school, attempt a phrase or two of Spanish whist on holiday or Japanese on a work trip, I never fully understood the mammoth effort it takes to gain another language. Boy do I have deep respect for all those people who are multi lingual, and I have huge appreciation of the dedication and patience they must have in doing so.
Having moved to the Netherlands, I have set upon my journey of exploration, of finding a home in this still new- to- me place, making friends and carving out my own little life here; and a major part of this adventure is speaking and understanding Dutch. Henceforth, many hilarious mistakes ensue, as I attempt to mumble my way through a conversation, but with growing confidence comes a sense of pride and enjoyment, as I begin to make sense of this rather guttural tongue.
Of course, there's no better place to study this, than being here in Holland, amongst natives of all dialect and accent! A challenge? You betcha! Lonely and frustrating at times? Yup. But massively rewarding when pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place. And I have adopted a fantastic way of emerging myself into the foreign words and phrases, in a fun and less daunting way, than your classic book of grammar...
Step forward, children's literature!! More distinctly, the written word of Annie M. G. Schmidt accompanied by the instantly recognisable illustrations from Fiep Westendorp, most popularly known for the stories of Jip en Janneke. A childhood favourite of Rich, who was so kind as to lend me this colourful story book, which I must share with you!
My study methods of choice vary from day to day, the most effective way to pick up the real lingo, is to be around Dutch people, to listen to the every day conversations and to swallow my pride and embarrassment and just give it a go myself. I also use an online course and a great book that offers an understandable approach to the complex linguistics. But sometimes, a grammar heavy book isn't all that appealing, and that my friends, is where these beautiful books come in handy!
The stories are sweet and comical, the language isn't entirely patronising or childish but clear and concise. The pace of the books are easier for such a beginner as myself, and the feeling of accomplishment after each turning page is reward in itself. The intricate and characterful illustrations are such a treat and take my learning to a more enjoyable place.
These books will be treasured forever, as will the rather large box of my childhood literature currently crowding my parents loft space! When you come across something with such charm as this, the tales never get old and the pictures continue to draw you further into the story. Reading these really make a difference to my language skills and hopefully help me continue to develop further!
Do you have any tips on picking up a foreign language? Any clever advice for confidence building, when attempting to converse? Or know of any great study methods to try?