FINISHED MY DUTCH TREE! Reflection Time!
So after 54 days of 1 to 4 hours of learning per night, I finished the Dutch tree! It was lots of fun and I feel really good about myself.
I have been learning German for four years and this helped my Dutch tremendously. I didn't get the two confused as I thought could happen. In comparison to German, Dutch is FAR easier. Waaaaaaaay less grammar, much closer to English en het is gewoon makkelijk te spreken. It's nice that there's only two articles, het and de, and it is absolutely glorious that there are no adjective endings other than an -e on the end of some adjectives! In my opinion, anyone who classifies themselves as proficient in German should learn Dutch.
As to my speaking/writing/reading abilities from this... I would say that I am between A2 and B1 in speaking, a bit closer to B1 in listening, and B1 in reading and writing. Duolingo teaches you the very basics of the language -- so all necessary grammar to construct complex sentences, lots of random vocab, lots of common vocab. It puts you in a position where you can confidently go to the country and become fluent in a year, or continue learning the language at your pace and make good progress.
From week one, I reconnected with two online Dutch friends with whom I talked to every day. I forced myself to write in Dutch and told them to correct my mistakes. I used Google Translate for words I didn't know, and through that I learned lots of vocab. By typing to native speakers, you will see their colloquial language. There's A LOT that Duolingo doesn't teach, for example, the common use of "gewoon" or "het maakt niet uit" -- I saw those repeatedly while talking to my Dutch friends, had them to explain it, and was able to create even more meaningful sentences.
Critique on the course itself... There's more positive than negative so I'll start with that. The Dutch team is evidently very intelligent and knowledgeable about many subjects. On top of that, THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS! The puns were awesome, the sentences made me crying from laughing to hard -- I think I laughed so hard that i even got abs. The only thing I really dislikes, which was out of their control was the speaker voice. I absolutely hate the speaker voice. It still confuses me. I sometimes can't understand it, and it sounds nothing like a native Dutch speaker! It's a cross between a German and a Brit semi-accurately pronouncing Dutch words. Many words were pronounced weirdly, and some were even pronounced in American English. For the most part it was okay, and it's all we have so we have to make it work.
Tips for people starting Dutch...
- Find friends to type and talk to, this is ESSENTIAL
- Subscribe to a ton of Dutch YouTubers so you can see visuals of what is being spoken about and you can pick up on the accent much better
- Listen to Dutch music for listening practice (I own every single song Eefje de Visser has ever put on iTunes, she is my bae, ily5ever)
- LISTEN TO ALPENZUSJES! It's cute Dutch carnival music, sometimes very funny, but very catchy and fun to learn the lyrics to!
I WANT TO THANK THE ENTIRE DUTCH TEAM AND THE DUOLINGO COMMUNITY FOR INFLUENCING MY LIFE SO GREATLY. MY GOAL IS TO BECOME PROFICIENT (NOT NECESSARILY FLUENT) BY MID 2015, THEN START SWEDISH. THIS COULD VERY WELL INFLUENCE MY LATER LIFE GREATLY! I CAN'T EXPRESS MY THANKS IN WORDS!
PS: I'm going to make a video of me speaking purely Dutch and post the link within the coming weeks so people can give me feedback on my accent and stuff. Thanks so much for offering Dutch as a language on Duolingo!