Finished Dutch to English & reverse trees! Some reflections...
Hi everyone! Just yesterday I finished my English to Dutch tree! I started learning Dutch just before New Year's, but less as a New Year's Resolution, and more for the reason that I wanted a new (and free) way to spend some downtime after work. It took 5 months to clear the D>E tree, then I passed the final checkpoint test for E>D and spent an additional month to finish that tree.
However, take these numbers with a grain of salt, since I had done German for 6 years in high school. Since German and Dutch are so similar, it wasn't as difficult to learn the language, and there weren't as many things that looked 'scary' or 'foreign'. Matter of fact, I was one of the people who waited for English to German way back in 2012 (though I soon dropped it, since this was near the end of my German education at school).
And here's one my main reflection about finishing my Dutch tree: to learn a language well, you have to truly love and immerse yourself in the entire culture, and you must have an honest and intrinsic motivation to learn. Sure I learned German for 6 years, but here's the catch: I don't think I ever really enjoyed it. I was definitely good at it - I could do my homework, learn my grammar and vocab, and top my class. To me, German was just another subject on my roster that was going to help me get into uni.
In that class, it wasn't hard to realise that the people who were right at the top were the ones who truly loved Germany. People who would bring in German snacks for the class, or be planning to travel or even study abroad. I didn't understand their love for it all at the time, until I started to get really interested in a wide range of disciplines that I hadn't ever looked into before, like economics and history. Dutch history, ingrained in maritime trade, seemed to be a natural overlap, and as I kept learning about it, something inside me just kept nagging me. To me at least, it felt like in order to truly understand a culture and history, I had to at least attempt to learn the language. And with the closeness of Dutch to German, one thing led to another, and now I have two trees complete, I'm snacking on speculaas, and I'm planning a trip to the Netherlands soon!
And where next? It feels like I've kindled this absolute drive to want to keep learning languages, so I'll definitely pick up some books and keep going with Dutch. But then I realised something else: I was now at least half decent at two foreign languages, neither of which are really used in my local community, yet I still never made an effort to learn my mother tongue and speak to own parents in their own language! I always found it funny that just by growing up, I learned to understand spoken Vietnamese around me, but could never read or speak the language. And... that's where Duo comes in again. With Vietnamese in beta since a couple of months ago, I definitely know where I'm going to sink my teeth into next!
Well, that was a long post, so I'll wrap up here. Love the language, the country, and the culture, but above all, I think the most important thing is to just love learning!