[Deactivated user]
English speaker who wasted years learning Dutch

Dutch speakers don't want to speak with me, as a native speaker of English. They don't reply or they tell me that I'll just have to learn bigger, more important languages and that I picked the wrong language. They simply have no interest in it.


What do I do when I've put a lot of time into learning this language, which I deeply enjoy?


Anybody out there who just wants to chat at random in Dutch sometimes?


Should I simply quit language learning?

Dec 12, 2015 10:09 AM
Comments · 23

As for your interlocuters' seemingly rude response that you're wasting your time learning their language, that might just be the infamous Dutch bluntness coming through. They certainly don't mean to be rude, the Dutch are a lovely people, but sometimes they can express themselves in a way that seems overly direct to foreigners. For instance, we've all met English-speaking foreigners and thought "Wow, their accent is really strong." The difference is, the Dutch might actually say that to their face :-P


My Dutch-learning friend got all sorts of discouraging comments about his accent when he was in the Netherlands. He was very proud when one day a train conductor asked him what province his "weird" accent was from, because at least he was starting to sound like a local!


When he eventually got to an advanced level he finally got to the point where Dutch people responded in Dutch to him because his Dutch was equal to or better than their English. That will happen to you too if you stick to it. I sincerely hope this post leads to you finding a Dutch person more sympathetic to your goals than average, which will help you get there.


You're learning a really deep language from a country with a rich and unique culture, a bastion of western civilisation, liberalism and tolerance. And their herrings, stroopwafels and jenever are to die for. Be proud!

December 12, 2015

I don't know well whether Dutch is important or not but you should not give up something you really like. Keep learning it as long as you're interested in doing so.

December 12, 2015

I sent you a pretty long reply around an hour before you posted this, so some of us do reply :-)


In case that message was unclear, I'll add a lot of Dutch bluntness this time though. Most Dutch people don't want to practise English. You cannot help that that's the language you have to offer, but we cannot help that it's not useful to us. It's not a language <em>exchange</em> if one party has nothing to gain.


As a native English speaker, you can find partners for almost all languages very easily, but Dutch is the exception. It's not fair, but that's life. You'll just have to keep searching really hard, or pay money for a teacher.


I do agree that people should have the courtesy to send some reply (or write something on their profile if they're not interested). Sorry for the behavious of my fellow Dutch in that regard.

December 13, 2015

I had the same exact problem while in Netherlands. It really seems impossible to make them speak their own language. I believe there are two main reasons for this:

1. During the day when they're about their business, or when they're talking to you, they'll switch to english out of convenience. They either don't have the energy to suffer trough slowness, or they're too interested in what you have to say, and english just makes it so much easier for the two (or more) of you to talk normally.


2.You're a native speaker. The reason why they want to speak to you in english is the same as your reason for talking to them in dutch. To practice and learn.


My solution is to just talk dutch. Restrain yourself from talking english. Better yet, imagine yourself being a foreigner, who only talks a bit of dutch. Even if they switch to english, continue in dutch, at some point they'll give up. Or talk to old people, I've found that they like talking dutch more than english.



December 12, 2015

Assumption that "it is supposed to be a language exchange and nothing else" might be totally wrong. Italki interface resorts to this term (seemingly now it is 'interface which italki has put between people'). OP didn't use the term in the posting above. Let us forget about English for a monent? OP could be speaker of Burushaski after all.

- there are normally lots of people, who love to explain their language to foreigners. (which can be easily proven with a look at 'notebook' and its frequenters).

- a huge proportion of valuable things I learned on the site were unrelated to what this site was meant for:) It is various phenomena in Russian which I never noticed, for example - and some random things besides. Occasionaly even some ideas abot history. May be it is my own approach:

- there are just people who would love to chat with an Australian. For fun. Just for fun. I understand that some people may have no free time to 'burn', as Michael put it - but there are ather people who do chat with forighners:) Or even with their compatriotes. More: there are even people who discuss politics:/

- or there are people who love to help random people.

So the question is 'what to do in order to find such people' and not 'how to sell English'.
And italki - full of language enthusiasts besides casual learners - must be right place, eh?

There is another tacticts... I recall, somebody... Dorothy? would sell her Engish for some humble amount of italki coins, and then buy another language for them. Anyway, for many adult Americans the prices here are symbolic. But I'd say, language is a way less interesting if you don't have people to speak it with - and I am not sure if a professional tutor is the best choise:/

December 14, 2015
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