How to Use WhatsApp to Practise Your Dutch
At the beginning of the year, we created a list of New Year’s Resolutions for you to learn Dutch in an easy and manageable way, for those of you with busy schedules. Each month, we’re posting an expanded guide to tackle each of these goals to give you some guidance, structure, and confidence in your language learning! You can also see our guides for January and February.
WhatsApp can be used to help with two of the most important elements of language learning:
1. Practising on a daily basis and
2. Practising with a native Dutch speaker.
A lot of the time, it can feel like — as a beginning or even as an intermediate Dutch learner — you’re inconveniencing native Dutch speakers by trying to speak Dutch, when you know perfectly well that their English is almost flawless.
First of all, many Dutch people are willing and enthusiastic about newcomers learning their native tongue. Although most of them speak English very well, learning Dutch is still fundamental to integrate in Dutch society and it’s impressive and flattering to many Dutch people that expats — especially those who may not necessarily NEED to learn Dutch for work, etc. — make the effort to learn Dutch.
Second of all, WhatsApping in Dutch is an easy and simple way to practise. Most of your Dutch colleagues or in-laws are WhatsApping in Dutch anyway, and it’s not much of an inconvenience (at all) for them to take an extra few minutes each day to send and receive some messages with a non-native Dutch speaker. WhatsApping can also be the first step toward having more extended conversations in Dutch. For many Dutch learners, picking up and learning basic sentences is quite easy, but moving on to more complicated vocabulary or sentence structures and conversations can be a hurdle to overcome.
By using WhatsApp, Dutch learners can take time to look up words (that’s not always so easy in the middle of an in-person conversation!) and can focus on sentence structure and vocabulary rather than pronunciation. Using mijnwoordenboek.nl or Google Translate really quick can help to expand your vocabulary!
Some quick tips for WhatsApping with colleagues/in-laws/Dutch friends:
Don’t feel pressured to respond right away,
Feel free to experiment a little bit with your sentence structure or vocabulary — because it’s over text, Dutch speakers will probably get the gist of what you mean and you can move outside of your comfort zone little by little,
Try to practise a new skill or concept each week — if you’ve learned about the plusquamperfectum one week, for example, try to use that a few times in your WhatsApp conversations so you know how to use that concept in practise!
Of course, WhatsApping in Dutch is one part of a balanced routine of Dutch learning, but don’t disregard it as a distraction — it can be a very powerful tool, indeed, to contribute to your knowledge and usage of the Dutch language.