Dutch lessons to non-native speakers: about language and culture
Teaching Dutch to non-native speakers is not always easy. You are faced with a number of problems. Not only the problem of language, but also the problem of culture. Sometimes also a lack of motivation. On the other hand, giving Dutch to non-native speakers enriches yourself, because you learn a lot about your own language, about your own culture and of course also about the culture of others. If the students are open to the course, it is certainly an enrichment for both parties. So it is give and take from both sides!
The whole world in one class!
Teaching Dutch to non-native speakers is not always easy. There is of course the language barrier, but in addition to the problem of language, there is also the problem of cultural difference. Yet this does not necessarily have to be experienced as negative. With a little imagination, humor and good will from both sides, it can even become a lot of fun and engaging.
Teaching Dutch to non-native speakers: problems
When you teach French, English, German, Spanish or another language to Dutch speakers, you still have Dutch to fall back on. Abstract words that are difficult to explain, you can then translate into Dutch and everyone is on board. It becomes a problem when you have to explain an abstract word such as “something” or “even” to people you do not know the language of. You also have no frame of reference. Does the word or concept exist in their language or is it really something very vague?
Most of the languages given here originated from the same basis. When you give French to Dutch speakers, you can safely come with a text about Christmas. The usages and meanings of words are the same in both languages. If you teach Dutch to Moroccans, for example, then you shouldn’t start talking about Christmas or Easter, because these people don’t care. And another problem arises with Russians. They do celebrate Easter, but have a completely different calendar. We follow the Julian calendar (of Julius Caesar) and they follow the Gregorian calendar. The customs are also very different. So you will have to find other themes to start a conversation if it is sensitive. Or just broach these themes and then drill into the differences and similarities. Maybe with a party from their culture. If you give Dutch to Spaniards, Italians, French, Germans, etc., the difference in culture will of course not be so great and it will be easier to find common ground. And people can happily communicate about the small, interesting differences.
Some people are very motivated and really want to learn the language of their new home country. Others must learn Dutch as part of an integration course or for work. Often these people do not see the usefulness of the course. At work they know the necessary vocabulary, which is often very technical, to do what they have to do. And outside of work they often stay in their own world. They go to family and friends who speak the same language, go to their own stores and watch television programs from their own country in their own language. They often feel that they do not need Dutch. It is then up to the teacher to make the lessons attractive and enjoyable, in such a way that these people also like to come to class and also learn something. It is a victory for the teacher when the students spontaneously start to watch Dutch programs themselves.
Teaching Dutch to non-native speakers: an enrichment for both parties
An enrichment for non-native speakers
When non-native speakers open themselves up to the Dutch course, it can be quite enriching. Firstly in the area of language, because learning the Dutch language opens up a whole new world for them. They will find their way more easily in the administration of their new home country, will dare and be able to communicate with the neighbors and will be able to participate at school when it comes to their children during a parents’ evening, for example. They will also be able to help their children with schoolwork. In terms of culture, they also come to understand some customs and customs better.
An enrichment for the teacher
In terms of language
Teaching Dutch to non-native speakers is also an enrichment for the teacher, in various areas. First, in the field of the language itself. What you yourself have always considered simple and obvious is now often questioned. You will have to look for answers to grammatical problems that you have never had to think about. For example, the position of some words in the sentence. Why you write something in a certain way. But you will also sometimes have to think about the actual meaning of a word. How do you correctly describe abstract words such as “disappointment”. And how do you explain it correctly, so that people don’t think you mean something else. For example, when you explain “something” and you say “something can be an object, that pencil case, for example, is something”, people sometimes think “something” means “pencil case” and then they store it that way in their memory. So it always remains to be alert and think proactively.
In terms of your own culture
You will also discover things in the field of your own culture that are not obvious to others. Such as a number of customs and habits. Well, why are we doing some things? Because it’s the custom here. Yes, but where does that habit come from? Why do we put a Christmas tree? Why do we eat Christmas log? Why do Europeans love dogs so much? And here too you will sometimes have to dig into certain texts or documents to find out the how or what of something particular. And so you learn something new yourself, you get a different view of things.
In the field of the culture of the non-native speaker
A third enrichment is that you will learn a lot about other cultures and customs. Once people have mastered the language a little, you will learn interesting things. For example, you will discover culinary delights from other countries. If you have a great group, you can even plan a lesson where everyone brings a small dish from their own country. Perfect for the group atmosphere, such a tasting!
So you see, if everyone is a little open and gives and takes a little, such a Dutch for non-native speakers course becomes really fun for both parties!