Improving Dutch Pronunciation?
Hoi, iedereen! I just get off Skype with my Dutch boyfriend about hour ago, and I actually tried to speak to him in Dutch. He didn't realize that at first, however. He said I didn't pronounce Dutch very well, and said I sounded like I was speaking Gaelic, so he didn't understand me. What can I do to "sound more Dutch" and improve my pronunciation?
Bedankt voor jullie tijd!
As someone with a Dutch boyfriend, I'm surprised that he didn't help to encourage you more. When I first started learning Dutch, I asked if my boyfriend could help me pronounce the words - breaking up the syllables if needed so I could get the accent right. We started off with simple words, to help with getting the vowels of the Dutch language accurately and then slowly with time, extending from words with smaller syllables to words that have four-five syllables and then into sentences.
It'll take some time and a lot of patience from both of you, but you can get there. I advise you, whenever you see a Dutch sentence whether it's on Duolingo or on a news site - to at least, slowly, try to say the words out loud - with the guidance of your boyfriend. It may give you more confidence to speak if you could go "Hey, I was wondering would you like to help me improve my pronunciation? I'm trying really hard here and I'm willing to be patient to get it right. I just need some guidance. We could break down the words into smaller chunks and then slowly sew them together as I get used to pronouncing things." and then see where it goes from there.
Does any of your boyfriend's family speak to you? If it feels like maybe asking him is too daunting as you don't want to disappoint him, perhaps even asking them to help you if they have the time. There are also places like http://www.gospeaky.com/ and http://www.italki.com/ that have many people to exchange languages with if you can't get your boyfriend or his family to help you out :)
I also highly recommend singing along to Dutch children's songs, such as nursery rhymes to get the flow of a sentence and to help with pronunciation. It really helped me and even now I still sing head shoulders knees and toes (hoofd schouders knie en teen) in Dutch to help me practice when alone. Here is a site that may help with that: http://www.liedjesland.com/Liedjes/kinderliedjes/kinderliedjes.htm
But you will get there. It's taken me 9 months to be able to sound fluid and just last night I was speaking Dutch with my own boyfriend, with my sister in a call and she said that my accent was pretty much identical to my boyfriend's. Just have faith and belief in yourself and never give up!