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Languages Are Worlds of Words

dutch languages learning

Learning a new language is interesting. There are new words. New structures. New verbs. New adjectives. New ways of explaining things. New ways of categorising things. New ways of describing things. New ways of thinking.

Learning a new language is not only about learning a new grammar, or new vocabulary, but also about learning how to think in that language. Let’s take my English learning experience as an example.

I’ve had English classes since I was very little. Granted, the classes weren’t necessarily the best or the most optimised. Granted, we have repeated the same contents over and over again over the years. And I never really noticed my English becoming better.

Until I started immersing into it without thinking. And then, at some point, I started thinking in English. It wasn’t the best. Not the most efficient. Not the most correct. But it happened, and I couldn’t help it. It was part of the natural process of learning a new language.

Today, I don’t realise whether I’m thinking in English or in Portuguese. And it doesn’t matter. My brain is now wired to understand and think in both languages. And now I’m not afraid of making mistakes, because it’s less likely.

But someone once said: “English is the most latinised Germanic language”. I am now learning Dutch, and there are quite a lot of different things. Dutch is further away from Portuguese than English. The structure is different. The brain needs to be tickled in a different way.

I’m trying. I’m reading in Dutch. Watching stuff in Dutch. Trying to speak Dutch even if it’s not the most. And I also think my current Dutch classes are actually helping more than I realise, especially when it comes to speaking.

Tomorrow I have a spreekbeurt, that is, I must do a presentation. Am I nervous? Yes. Is that fine? Yes. What’s the worse that can happen? Nothing. That’s the worse that can happen. Not doing anything. I have to do something.

And keep doing something. At some point I’ll realise I started thinking in Dutch, albeit only in certain situations. But that’s how it goes. Learning worlds of words.