Sunday 1 June 2014

Picture Perfect



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?



20 comments:

  1. What a fabulous idea! I've never thought about approaching learning a language in this way but, of course, it's how children learn (remember being able to 'go up' a book when you were young? It felt like such a huge step!) so all the more for it!!

    You know how much I admire you, Gem, and I wish you all the luck with continuing your learning - it sounds as though you are doing fantastically :)

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    1. Ahh Tor, thank you. I am in need of lots of the luck ; )

      This just felt like a more fun way to do it, in the hopes that some of it sticks, and if not at least the pictures are cute! Joking aside, I'm getting there!

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  2. What beautiful illustrations! And I love the idea of learning a language through children's books. It sounds like such an exciting adventure you're on. Someone said to me this week: 'scared and excited are practically the same emotion'. I'm seriously inspired by your bravery!

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    1. You are so right!! It is a very bizarre mixture of the two, almost indistinguishable at times!

      An adventure indeed!! : D

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  3. When I first wanted to try and learn some dutch I went to the book shop and started looking at the most basic of books. One word and a picture kind of books. I think I'd have a lot more luck in learning the language now having been here almost two years but tbh I've yet to find (or dedicate) the time to it. And for what it's worth, I have no intention of staying so I really don't see the need to learn a language for half a country.

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    1. I bet you know more than you give yourself credit for. It's always difficult to track your own progression. Then again, like you said, the skies the limit and you may find yourself crossing borders and lands!!

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  4. This is such a creative way to learn a language, I really love the look of these books too. The illustrations are beautiful! Good luck :) x

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    1. Thanks Steph : )

      I'm quite lucky to be able to use these beauties as more than just a book : )

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  5. Those are beautiful illustrations! I hadn't thought of learning a language through children's books, but it sounds like such a good, and maybe more fun, way to learn! I'm thinking of trying to improve my French so I might take your advice and read some children's literature. Good luck with your learning - it sounds like you're doing brilliantly!

    Gemma

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    1. Oh wow that's exciting! I'd love to hear if you found some beautiful French books to study from, I bet there are so many!! : )

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  6. I am terrible at learning languages - I have never thought of using children's books to help though! The illustrations are so unique and charming in this book... Sending you lots of luck with your new adventure xx

    www.lulabelloves.com

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    1. Ahh thanks so much Lucy!! : ) Incredibly sweet of you!!

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  7. What a cute little book! Good luck learning the language, I'm terrible at languages but I'm sure you'll pick it up in no time! x

    Josie’s Journal

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    1. Haha!! I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can ; )

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  8. Hint for learning languages:

    Use file cards (3"x5" here in USA) to make two sided flash cards with Dutch word or phrase to be learned on one side and translation on the other. While reading a newspaper or magazine, underline unfamiliar words or phrases. Write the file card yourself, don't purchase pre-printed ones, the writing helps with the learning. Shuffle the cards (so you don't memorize them in order) and review them nightly just before bed. Place hard to remember ones, place on your bathroom mirror for emphasis. Keep them in a box by your bed, segregating special vocabulary groups with rubber bands around those particular cards.

    I used this method to learn both Spanish and French (French in 6 weeks while living in Quebec).

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    1. What a fantastic idea. I completely understand your tip to shuffle the cards; when reading back my notes I always tend to remember the pattern rather than the words themselves. This is excellent advice, and I'm for sure adding this wonderful idea into my learning!

      Thank you!

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  9. Hi Gemma, I read that book when I was a child and think the Auteur is great. Also, I wanted to tell you I nominated you for the Liebster award.

    http://themyrtaceae.blogspot.nl/2014/06/the-liebster-award.html

    Love Esther

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    1. Wat een schat!! : )

      That is incredibly kind of you, I will be sure to answer your 11 questions! (Totally agree that Disney movies are for adults as much as kids!!)

      You must know Jip en Janneke ook? Gorgeous books.

      Thanks Esther xx

      (PS. I love thunder and lightening too!!)

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  10. How exciting to be learning Dutch and be living in the Netherlands - I have always wanted to visit the Netherlands! I am studying German and I am still rather bad it after years of studying! That book looks adorable - when I was in Germany I picked up a Mr Men book in German which is fun to read! :)
    theemeralddove21.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. You should visit for sure!! : D

      Wow German, that must be an interesting one to learn, made easier with the help of Mr Happy and team though : D

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