Learning Dutch From a Dutch Child

Learning Dutch From a Dutch Child

“Wat is dat?” asked my girlfriend’s three year old niece as she pointed to the image of a brightly coloured sheep.

“Het is een schaap.” I informed her.

We were sitting on the sofa of her parent’s place as she proudly showed me her new story book and inquisitively asked me the names of all the animals within. I’d been learning Dutch off and on a bit for a few years. I still wan’t great at it but I was trying to show off just a little. A conversation with a three year old Dutch child seemed like it should be manageable.

“En wat is dat?” She asked pointing to another smiling animal.

I didn’t know the answer so I tried to cover by telling her the English name. “Er… het is een duck.”

She responded by looked at me with the kind of confusion only a three year olds can pull off, the kind where they just stare at you in the vain hope that you will make sense and stop being strange.

She quickly realize that I probably would not be making sense anytime soon so she decided to correct me instead, “Het is een eend,” and then point to another animal, “wat is dat?”

“Ik weet het niet.” I confessed this time, deciding to go for the honest approach.

“Het is een koe.” She informed me like a teacher correcting her student.

And then, since questions about farm yard livestock seemed to be too complex she continued to identify them for me;

“En dit is een konijn.”

It was while she pointed to each animal that I realized…

“En dit is een geit.”

…she was no longer doing for her own amusement or benefit…

“En dit is een haan”

…it was for mine.

“En dit is een varken.”

This is how I ended up learning Dutch from a three year old Dutch child.

And little did I know that a few years later I’d end up having my Dutch corrected by my own daughter.

22 responses to “Learning Dutch From a Dutch Child”

  1. Just a Plane Ride Away says:

    Excellent! Um, can I borrow her for a while?

  2. Alison says:

    I remember shortly after I moved here, I passed a child speaking Dutch to its father. I turned to my boyfriend and commented on how impressed I was by the child’s fluency in Dutch. ;)

  3. kiks says:

    Layla is still at the stage where she looks offended when Steve pronounces dutch words wrong.

  4. Aledys Ver says:

    Did she lose her patience with you or shook her head in resignation at any point? If she found it amusing, she’s definitely a doll! :o)

  5. Invader Stu says:

    Just a Plane Ride Away – I’ll have to check.

    Alison – I’m guessing the child was Dutch :p

    Kiks – That was a little of the look I got.

    Aledys Ver – She was very confused about it but was very sweet and seemed very happy while she was ‘teaching’ me.

  6. Breigh says:

    Can I borrow her after JAPRA is done?

  7. Keith says:

    De tijd om te beginnen zorgwekkend is als ze begint te corrigeren van uw Engels, I think!

  8. Keith says:

    I bet you didn’t know I couldn’t speak Dutch!

  9. thamarai says:

    cuute! :)

  10. Anneke says:

    :D In a few months she’ll surely pass you in ability. (Or has she already?) And I know! Frustration! (Just not in Dutch, in French however…)

  11. Kerryanne says:

    The first few years here, my husband’s little niece thought I was ‘around 3’ based on my Dutch.

  12. LizzeeB says:

    Welcome to my life Stu, I live with a 3 year old that teaches me Dutch, and she is also very adept at dieren. If only I could catch up to her :-).

  13. Invader Stu says:

    Breigh – This might turn out to be a stupid question but what is JAPRA?

    Keith – Are you secretly Dutch?… and I agree

    thamarai – Yes :)

    Anneke – I think her 2 year old sister has already surpassed me :p

    Kerryanne – It’s nice as compliment though in some ways .

    LizzeeB – One day we will both catch up with these three year old… of course then they will be older and much better at Dutch again… damn

  14. Veronica says:

    I think you’re on to something here. Just let her continue and you’ll be really good soon. I mean – that is the way kids learn their own language – by pointing at pictures and getting the correct name for whatever it is told to them. (That was not correct english? told to them?? sounds strange) As the kids get older it gets more complicated. I’m in the phase of explaining space travel to my 9-year old. And how water have existed on Mars. What is a lightyear. What are photons and what is solar wind. I’m getting good at those things. But nothing can still come close to the period when he wanted me to read a certaing book about dinosaurs to him, and the book was in english. Try to translate that stuff to swedish on the fly.

  15. Invader_Stu says:

    Luckily for me she did not ask any thing as complex as that

  16. Anita says:

    Next level: learning the sounds they make (tok-tok, boe-boe, woef-woef…).

  17. Invader_Stu says:

    Anita – I’ll have to ask her to give me another lesson on that :)

  18. Breigh says:

    JAPRA = Just A Plane Ride Away :)

  19. Invader Stu says:

    I realized that just too late. And by ‘realized it’ I mean had it pointed out to me by my girlfriend.

  20. Lopa says:

    haha, i missed this post!

    When we moved here, very first month my husband’s client invited us for dinner, they have two kids 3 and 5, they were so excited to see us. They kept talking with us all the time and we didn’t understand a word ! When that little boy got an idea he came and sat beside me, pointed to his Nintendo and talked all excited about playing racing pointing at it…haha
    They r so cute, i think it is easier to learn Dutch from this kids than sitting in those Dutch lessons ;)

  21. Leti Locatelli says:

    This post happened to me a couple of times. My boyfriend’s best friend has a 3 year old little daughter. She is my best teacher. And she is crazy about me because i’m so… different. She says -in dutch- that she knows i can not speak good dutch yet, but I will learn, she will help me. Children are simple adorable!

  22. Invader Stu says:

    Lopa – Haha. That’s brilliant

    Leti Locatelli – That’s so sweet :)

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