Articles for November 2015

Becoming aware of your mistakes

Following on from the blog about the ‘autopilot’, this week I want to dive a bit deeper into ‘mistakes’. We all make mistakes, even sometimes in our native language. A mistake can come in 2 different forms: 1) things that are incorrect but don’t impede communication 2) mistakes that impede communication.  Whether the mistake has to do with grammar, lexis, pronunciation or any other area it needs to be worked on if it is a category 2 mistake.

It is handy to know your own mistakes. How can you become more aware of them? will probably need someone who gives you honest feedback. Most of the time we don’t hear/see our own mistakes as they have been programmed in our personal ‘autopilot’. Making a list of mistakes could be a great 2nd step. Try to be as descriptive as possible about the mistake. Try to answer questions such as: Is it a grammar/vocabulary or pronunciation mistake? How does this mistake show up in my writing/speaking? What does that same sentence look like without the mistake? When do I make the mistake? It is a lot to find out but the more you understand what your mistakes are, the more you have specified them, the ‘easier’ it is to change.

Trying this with spoken language is trickier. However, you could record yourself while using English and later listen to your own use of the language, your personal checklist at hand. While writing you can decide to first write your whole text and then go through the points on the checklist step-by-step.

This will help you improve your English/Dutch and you will become aware of the areas that need changing in the first place.

The ‘autopilot’ and learning a language

We all have our own ‘autopilots’. When we drive a car, cycle, use our native language and in so many other situations we use it. Overall it is very good. Imagine how difficult the world would be if you would have to concentrate 100% on everything you were doing because your body/brain wouldn’t remember. That would make life almost impossible!

This autopilot also kicks in once you have started to learn a second (third/fourth) language. Actually on all levels there is some form of it. Try to think back to when you started learning a new language. At a certain moment there were 10 or 15 words or sentences you could use almost without thinking about it. You knew the meaning and the pronunciation and you felt confident using these words. There you had the start of your autopilot.

However..the autopilot can be tricky. Because mistakes/issues/bugs can be programmed  within it. The student I had today is learning English and has got a real problem using the ‘s’ in sentences such as: She walks to the supermarket. Sometimes he uses it but more often than not he doesn’t. This means the ‘s’ of he/she/it has not been programmed in his autopilot. And most of the time when he talks English he can use the autopilot, he can speak clearly, get his ideas across, make himself understood and understand others. Programmed issues/bugs are difficult to change! It is much more difficult to solve a bug in your autopilot than it is to put new information in it. The most important thing to do when trying to get rid of the bug is that someone needs to correct you. It is so important! Otherwise these mistakes will become part of the programming and will never change. Granted…maybe you will need to be correct/made aware of the bug hundreds of times and this isn’t fun. But after a while of concentrating harder and focusing on this problem you will notice a time comes when suddenly (somehow) the correct code has been uploaded to the autopilot and now you can use the ‘s’ for he/she and it in the present tense without even giving it a second thought!

Do you want to retrain your autopilot and get bugs out of your Dutch/English system?

Contact me now and we will work on this together!

Activating the language you are learning

In the past 3 years I have noticed that it is very easy to get ‘stuck’ in the language learning process without actually moving in the direction of activating the language. What do I mean by this? It is quite ‘safe’ to stay in the comfort zone of the book/course, doing the exercises, reading, learning more, studying more. And, of course, you need this to learn a language BUT…at a certain point in time you need to take the step to activating the language. This means: writing, speaking, using it in real life. If you wait with this step until you have learned enough then you will wait your whole life for it.

How to start doing this? Write 1 or 2 things down about your day in the language you are learning. Converse with someone in your chosen language for 5 minutes. Try to read an easy story but then write down in your own words what the story was about. All of this will help activating your language.


Learn how to do this.

Contact me now

Welcoming a new student

Yesterday I had an intake with a new student and I can now welcome her into my student base. Someone who has studied Dutch before in a group but it didn’t work out and she needs more flexibility too with respect to lesson times, days etc. I’m looking forward to working with my new student, getting to know each other and as a team getting her to a level where she can use the Dutch language with confidence!

Learning language in context

Yesterday I had a Dutch lesson with one of my students. The focus: his Dutch golf exam, theory test! He has only started Dutch 3 lessons ago but has planned to pass this exam within the next 4 weeks. Working through the test questions is a perfect way of learning Dutch from scratch and in context. You can start with learning words but you can also dive straight in like he did and be busy with your hobby WHILE learning a different language.