06 oktober 2021 

Does your Dutch suffer from the €500 syndrome?

Did you know that the €500 syndrome could have a negative impact on your Dutch? Once you think about it, it makes perfect sense!

The €500 syndrome is an idea that I coined just a  couple of days ago (pun intended). It is very simple. Imagine that you are somewhere in Holland and that you like to pay with a bill of €500. You would imagine that with so much money, you could buy a lot, right?

But… as you may also imagine, the opposite is true. You’ll find that most shops, restaurants and cafés would not accept your money. They probably would ask: heeft u het niet kleiner? (don’t you have it smaller)?

So now, there is that weird situation. Although you have a lot of money, you cannot buy anything. Unless you want to spend it on coke, weapons and other illegal stuff ;  To make it even crazier… Imagine that you only had €10. Then at least you could buy some stuff, but now with a bill of €500 in your hands, chances are high that you will get nothing 🙁

This is what I call the €500 syndrome. You have loads of money and still you feel poor, maybe even like a beggar. And guess what? The same is true for knowledge!

Imagine that you go to the university  and that you gain a lot of knowledge. You would imagine that now there is a lot that you could use in real life! But… having a vast amount of knowledge is like having €500 in your hands. Too many people learn a lot of theory, abstract concepts and other ideas of intellectualism, but… certainly with languages a painful thing happens. Yes, you may have read 100 thick books of high class poetery and hard core literature, know about generative and cognitive grammar patterns, but if you just like to use language for little situations in real life, then you don’t know what to say!

Luckily the solution is quite simple. If you have a bill of €500, you could still be rich. The only thing that you need to do is that you break it into smaller pieces like bills of €10 and sometimes even coins, and then your problem will be solved!

The same thing is true for language. You have to learn how to work with little pieces of information, that you can use quickly. Initially it may seems that it is not worth that much, but… if you have loads of loads of these little things, you could be more resourceful than you ever imagined!

So here is the moral lesson. Knowledge is always great, however you need to be flexible with it. A lot of knowledge that you have, maybe a bit abstract, but once you break it down into smaller practical pieces, you’ll notice that then, you can do all the things that you want!

Have you ever noticed that with many language courses, it feels that you get overloaded with loads and loads of informtion and that your head explodes with grammar rules and concepts. Maybe you even reached B2 and still notice that somehow, you still cannot say the things tht you want. Chances are high that somehow, you got infected with the €500 syndrome 🙂

The good thing is that once you realize that you have that €500, you already took many steps forward. All you need is a simple way of thinking and great things can happen again!


Does it make sense to you? Please share in your comments!

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