Speaking a new language can have a great impact on your every day life. Sooner than you think. All you have to do is to focus on some little things.
It happened some years ago, out of curiosity. After teaching Dutch for many years in a row there was that feeling again.... That desire of learning something new and discover new things. Although I love my job - I even see it as a mission - there was just one thing that somehow bothered me. While I was teaching Dutch, I could clearly see that for my students many things started to change once they started to speak a new language. But... for me.... I was teaching Dutch, Dutch and Dutch and this is a language that I already speak....
As a teacher you should stand in the shoes of your students now and then 🙂
It was time to take off my cloggs...
Therefore I was wondering how it would be to stand in the shoes of my students again. I wanted to feel that same excitement again and... I wanted to really feel how it feels when you try to learn something that often you don't understand. So, now a new idea was born. It was time to learn another language!
Now it was time for the next question... which language should I choose? If I really wanted to understand the struggles that people often have when they try to speak Dutch, therefore I thought I should choose a 'difficult' language this time. No Norwegian (this is too close to Dutch) and no Portuguese, because that might be too easy for me, as I already speak Spanish...
So which language to choose? Chinese? Russian? I do believe that if you really want to learn to speak a new language, then the best way to do it is to the country where they speak it, so why not choose a country with nice weather then? All of a sudden the idea came to my mind that Greek might be the right choice. In Greece, there is a nice blue see, the sun is always shining, the food is extremely delicious and there are many beautiful islands. On top of that, many words in our Western languages have a Greek origin anyway, so in that sense it could be handy for teaching languages anyway....
Therefore I went to Greece to experience it for myself. How does it really feel to learn a whole new language that can also be hard and difficult at times? If you say in English that something is Greek to you, then it means that there is nothing that you don't understand. Good! I wanted to be sure that I had to struggle a bit this time with a new language... frustrations and self doubt were also emotions that this time I wanted to feel 🙂
I took lessons.... Tried different learning techniques and of course after some time, the inevitable thing happend... I felt complety stuck... So now, there was only one way to cure my problem... I had to go go Greece!
And then in Greece, magical things started to happen... Bit by bit I was getting more grip on it...
So here is the amazing thing that I discovered again... and it is something that you may intuitively realize as well... long before you speak a new language really fluently, great things start to happen.
This can says in Greek: you can win a travel every day
It is true... if you look closely,
there is always something to gain!
For example... if I look at things around me in Greece, I can read more things. Once I bought a can of Sprite and I could read the text on it. It says that you can win a travel every day.
Here was another great thing. When I went to Syros last year I could not speak with the owner of the pension. But... one year later, everything was different. Now I can have conversations with Nikos. It was really nice, because he does not speak English and somehow we got to know each other a little bit better.
Nikos, the owner of my pension
was one of the first people
that noticed a great difference!
So now when I am in Greece, I notice a great difference. When I speak Greek to them they are always surprise and believe it or not, I even make jokes. Is my Greek perfect? Oxi... I still make loads and loads of mistakes and quite often there are words that I don't understand. But... while speaking, I am learning new things. It just feels that somehow when I speak Greek, I am more connected with everything that surrounds me...
So here is the thing... When I go to Greece, it is only for a short time... Just two or three weeks. But.... within a couple of days I just notice how great it is to speak some Greek, even if it is just for a holiday.
The great secret: malakies
And... there are some similarities between Dutch and Greek. Both languages could be seen as hard to learn and even worse: not really that useful. If you speak English you can still enjoy many things in both countries. Not so many people speak Dutch and for Greek is is even less... But... I have personally experienced how satisfying it is when you learn new things and how great it is if everything that surrounds you just makes a lot more sense.
That is why I feel energized to continue my Dutch mission. No matter what other people may tell you about Dutch, one thing is sure... Once you speak it, life somehow gets nicer. You'll feel more positive about the people around you and more positive about yourself. And here is another thing... there are many ways to speed up your language learning.
One thing helped me the most for speaking Greek
Making jokes and teasing my teachers a bit 🙂
This malakies technique works great!
Last but not least, there is one thing that I have to admit... My Greek teacher told me that of all the people in the class I had the lowest knowledge of grammar (which was true), but... somehow he noticed how I could easily make new sentences and talk with relative ease. So here is my secret... I used the malakies technique. It means that you simply talk about bullshit and silly things...
I said stupid things about donkeys and I used silly jokes, but somehow it works like magic... Many people may believe that you'll learn faster when you are serious, but this is not true... I noticed it again while learning Greek... make fun, say silly things, make many mistakes and surround yourself with nice people. You'll have a great time then and... it is the fastest way to say things in a new language!
Oh... because I forget to mention it... Dutch is a lot easier than Greek, certainly if you speak English... For example, you may not like de & het, but in Greek there are at least 9 ways to translate the... Therefore if you like to master Dutch, just go for it!