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Time to Say Vaarwel Posted by on Jun 1, 2014 in Dutch Language

5927969328_cf24782908_zWell, dear blog readers, here we are… my last blog post for Transparent Language. My family and I are relocating to the United States and with the upcoming move and the uncertainty of the future, a further commitment to the blog just isn’t doable.

Sharing this Dutch language journey with you here has been an absolute pleasure. You’ve welcomed me with open arms, exchanged banter with me in the comments, shared and liked my posts, added to the conversation, and corrected me when something in my posts just wasn’t quite right.

I set out to share what I knew about the Dutch language and culture, but in the process, I’ve learned just as much during my time on this blog.

With a daughter we’re trying to raise bilingually and my desire to keep up my own Dutch language skills, keeping Dutch alive for my family while abroad has been weighing heavily on my mind. So I thought it might be interesting to share some of the steps we’ll be taking to keep the language alive. Whether you’re trying to learn the language outside of the Netherlands or, like me, you’re looking for ways to continue to practice your Dutch skills, hopefully you’ll be able to use some of these ideas.

  1. The family that speaks Dutch together… speaks Dutch together. The easiest thing to do, seeing as we have one fluent Dutch speaker in the family, is to become a Dutch speaking family. Though my daughter and I will most likely continue to speak to each other in English when it’s just the two of us, whenever my husband is with us, we’ll speak Dutch amongst ourselves. A lot of bilingual families operate like this: they speak the native language at home and the language of the country they live in outside of the home.
  2. Take a letter, Marieke. With friends and family still in the Netherlands, this is the perfect opportunity to get the emails and (gasp!) snail mail going. This is great because it practices your writing skills when you compose a letter and your reading skills when you receive one.
  3. Make new vrienden. One thing that has really hit home since we’ve been researching our new home is the sheer number of Dutch people there. I mean, I knew the Dutch loved to travel and had a thing for living abroad, but it looks almost like they’ve taken over the United States of America. It’s incredible. So touch-down in our new home base means time to make new vrienden! Turns out, my non-Dutch friends living there have Dutch friends, there’s a Dutch school, one of my husband’s future coworkers is Dutch, and there are at least two Dutch expat groups. Ask and Google around to see where Dutch people are lurking in your area.
  4. Tiffy Phone Home. With family in the Netherlands, regular Skype sessions and phone calls are going to mandatory. Yet another chance to sharpen your speaking skills.
  5. That’s entertainment. Among the things we’ll be taking with us are Dutch language DVDs, albums from Dutch artists, and loads of books written in the Dutch language. We’ll need to make sure we regularly get these things out to watch, listen, and read in Dutch.

While that should be enough to keep us busy for a while, I’m always open to more suggestions on how to learn a language when you’re not living in the country that speaks it. Got any tips or ideas to share with the rest of us? Leave them in the comments!

And please feel free to connect with me via Facebook or Twitter!

Ben Sutherland, Flickr Creative Commons
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About the Author: tiffany

Tiffany Jansen is an American magazine and copywriter in the Netherlands.


Comments:

  1. Sarah Turley:

    Personal contact with other Dutch speakers is probably going to be key, especially for your daughter. It always makes me laugh how we took our children to the expat club to show them there were other English-speaking children, then all the children spoke Dutch together because that’s their language of play; it’s so easy for them (and you) to slip into your native tongue and the school language. Have fun setting up your bilingual home in the USA. Will you be starting a new blog about the repatriation process?