Yesterday I cried about learning Dutch. In public. On a busy pub terrace. Ummm. So yeah, that sucked.
Luckily, it was super sunny yesterday and I was wearing sunglasses so hopefully no one noticed… (I’m totally kidding myself, people definitely noticed.)
Anyway, I cried because learning Dutch is fucking hard.
I don’t really talk about it very much, and I purposely try to keep negativity away from my blog… but this isn’t negative, it’s just honest.
I’ve been learning Dutch properly for about a year. Before that, when we still lived in England, I had a few CDs which I listened to occasionally (Michel Thomas, in case you’re wondering). Occasionally – meaning listening to them for a few hours in blind panic directly before every trip to Holland and then not bothering again for a couple of months. Read: Until the next trip!
I’ve taken a Dutch course (which I didn’t complete because the teacher was a terrible teacher. Nice sweet lady, but seriously love – you’re in the wrong business) and I can have basic level conversations and understand about 80-90% of what people are saying to me. So considering I’ve only lived here a year, I reckon I’m doing alright.
So yesterday, fuelled by 8 glasses of wine (not all full measures – thankfully!! On the Wijnspijs Culinaire Wandeling – separate post on that to follow) I took the plunge and started talking to my Dutch friend in Dutch. They don’t call it Dutch courage for nothing! He speaks amazing English, I’ve known him for 6 years and we’ve always spoken together in English. But you know, I need to practice. And I’d been speaking Dutch all day, so it seemed natural to me.
It was all going fine until I made a tiny mistake, literally I said ‘heeft’ instead of ‘hebt’. I know it’s wrong, they know it’s wrong… but y’know, 8 glasses of wine, talking quickly, in my second language… I’m going to make mistakes. No biggie. But then… The Dutchie corrects me.
Ok – I think to myself – he’s supposed to correct me, that’s the only way I’m going to learn. (We have a deal – we correct each other’s language mistakes, except if we’re in a group. Then you have to remind them about it later, one on one.) So… deep breath, carry on…
Then The Friend corrects me. Again, something ridiculously tiny. And I lose my shit.
I just stopped talking and had a little cry, while they awkwardly carried on talking. Once I’d regained my composure… I went to the toilet to fix my face.
They’re blokes so they thought they were being ‘helpful’. I tried explaining to them that it’s not what you say, but the way you say it… but these are Dutch blokes, so that was no use whatsoever!
When I came back, I started talking in English, but after a few minutes, I thought nope. This is not cool. I WILL speak Dutch and I WILL make mistakes. So I gently reminded myself of my speaking Dutch mantra: fuck it.
I try really hard. Really bloody hard to speak the language. And I had a little wobble… but I bloody well picked myself up, dusted myself off and carried on. How very British of me!
So, to anyone out there who is learning Dutch – or any other language for that matter – good luck to you, hats off and a big virtual high five.
It’s hard fucking work – and I applaud you.