Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Over the summer, it can be a bit more difficult to coordinate learning a new language (especially if you go abroad!). It helps to understand what type of learner you are and follow the strategies that are best suited for your learning style.
In this blog post, we’ve included a few descriptions of different types of language learners to help you determine what type of learner you are as well as tips and strategies to help you self-study over the summer holiday.
You soak everything up like a sponge. Your friends and family are impressed with how much Dutch (or another language) you’ve learned without doing much studying, but just by living in that native language’s environment. Maybe your go-to relaxation technique is listening to the people around you talk, watching movies or listening to podcasts.
Study Strategies: reading (articles, a book, books you've previously read in your native language), watching TV (video clips on YouTube, children’s shows or reality tv, documentaries, etc.), listening to podcasts, playing language games with yourself, like replying in your head to conversations you overhear, or imagining what you would say if someone said this or that to you.
You always did really well in school. Maybe you were even the one that made flash cards or study guides for your friends before quizzes and tests. You get a lot of satisfaction out of meeting goals or deadlines. Your cheeks might get a bit red when you try to speak in your second language to a stranger.
Study Strategies: memorization and quizzing (memrise and Duolingo); WhatsApping with or writing regular emails to a good Dutch friend or colleague (you can prepare, look up words, etc.), or send us an email asking for a list of websites for grammar and vocab practice! Also, try to take tiny steps out of your comfort zone, by maybe talking to kids in the park, or volunteering at a retirement home.
You’d rather get started cooking a meal without really reading the recipe first. You are spontaneous and often prefer to figure things out as you go along. You enjoy being around others and ask what you need to know as you go along. You are a social learner.
Study Strategies: try-and-fail techniques (speak as much as possible with strangers, etc.; if you go away, try to set up a regular Skype date with a good Dutch friend). Or walk around town and do what toddlers do: name everything you see, dictionary in hand. At first in simple words, then simple sentences, then proper phrases: “Hond”, “Boom”, “Fiets”, “Dat is een hond”, “De boom is groen”, “Ik zie een rode fiets”, “De hond loopt over het gras naar de brug”.
At the same time, it is, of course, always good to get yourself out of your comfort zone. By doing this, you will practice different skills than you would by continuing to use the same study strategies over and over again. If you’re an A-type learner, for example, you can rely on those tips to maintain your Dutch throughout the summer, but try to spice up your self-study by setting up a coffee date with a Dutch friend and asking to speak in Dutch for the first 5 minutes, for instance. Or take a peek at the study tips suggested for the other types of learners!
Make a goal to use a consistent study plan throughout the summer, including a different technique or two once a week. Don’t try to be overly ambitious, be realistic. Schedule, for example, to have one conversation each week, to read the newspaper headlines (or maybe an article) on Saturdays, to send a few WhatsApp messages throughout the week, and listen to a podcast or Dutch radio before you go to sleep. A few minutes a day can already create great progress. Avoid dissapointment: if you notice that you can't keep up with your plan, tune it down. Instead of wasting your energy with being mad at yourself for not following the plan, adapt the plan!
Would you like more suggestions? Or would you like to have a detailed and realistic tailor-made summer plan worked out for you, based on your level, your skills and activities relevant to your life? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.