Is this monkey bugging you?

Is this monkey bugging you?

Have you ever noticed that you do not always find it easy to really talk about everything that you want in Dutch? Sometimes it seems hard, right? Sometimes it even feels impossible!

But… here is the thing… what do you do when you like to say something in Dutch? Do you listen to a voice in your head that speaks in your language and do you then try to translate it, word by word?

If so, then you walked into the trap of listening to your language monkey mind!


A monkey mind is a mind that acts like a monkey. You may already know this concept from meditation. It jumps around to all different kinds of places and it is very unrestful. The language monkey mind is something similar. It is like a monkey that starts to talk about all different kinds of stories and it loves to jump fast from one subject to the other.

The trouble begins when you start to listen to this monkey mind!

On top of that, the monkey mind speaks very fast and loves to express as many things as possible in English or in your own language. But then, the trouble begins. If you listen to this monkey mind and if you try to translate word by word what this monkey mind says while speaking Dutch, then this will never work.

So here is the trick. Don’t listen to your monkey mind if you like to speak another language.

Of course, you can start with an idea of what you like to communicate first and then start thinking in Dutch.

Think of something that you want to say and then see which Dutch words come up and then start to make sentences that can be short and relatively simple.

Of course your language monkey will start to complain. It will suggest that now there is nothing that you can say, but… the opposite is true.

If you relax and ignore this loud voice of this monkey mind, you will notice that it can actually be quite easy to talk about all the things that you want. And it is a skill that can be learned.

The great thing is that once you stop translating anyway, then all of a sudden it ia a lot easier to speak other languages. If I speak English or Spanish, I never think in Dutch first. Because when I do, all of a sudden I notice that it is a  lot harder to express myself

That is why I love to show to my students how to stop listening to your language monkey mind. If you think for yourself, it is a lot easier to get a lot more clarity!

Also, when you can start thinking in Dutch, then more Dutch words will automatically follow, even if you can only think of a few Dutch words right now….

Just start to make sentences, even if they are small. Three or four words can often do a trick.

Simply simplify your thinking if you like to talk about complex things! :)

One important reason why you get stuck while speaking in Dutch is that you try to put too much information in one sentence. Remember that if you listen to your monkey mind, then you will notice that it is talking like crazy. So take a deep breath and relax. Just make a first small sentence and then another. Don’t be affraid to repeat the same words.

The first goal is that you simply get your message across. And sure… how you say it might sound boring, but… the most important thing is that you simply start talking. Only later you can start to think how to say things in nicer or more entertaining ways.

Another important skill is that you can simplify your thinking. Here is an example. You can say: when I woke up, I noticed that the sun was shining. If you like to make it easier for yourself then say: I woke up and the sun was shining. Can you see that the message is more  or less the same?

Here is another example. Let’s assume that you do not know the Dutch word for to notice. Then simply ask yourself: what do I do if I notice things? If you notice things, then you see it, right? Or you hear it, or you feel it. Does it really matter if you say: I notice that the sun shines or I see that the sun shines? Once again, after some time, you’ll learn many more words and then it will be fun to make more complex sentences as well. You just need ridiculous simplicity first, just to make sure that you get started….



So here is a great question: what happens in your mind when you want to speak Dutch (or any other foreign language?) Please feel free to share!




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