I thought it was weird that leren sounds like the German lehren (to teach), so I looked up the Dutch word it, and that it also leren!
If leren means both "to teach" and "to learn," does that not cause confusion? Would you just user onderwijzen if you needed to be really specific?
It's not that confusing. If leren means "to teach", then it will necessarily have a direct object (the subject matter) and an indirect object (i.e. the person you are teaching to). If it means "to learn", it will only have a direct object (subject matter).
- I teach him to swim- Ik leer hem zwemmen
- I learn to swim- Ik leer zwemmen
If you want to say something like "I teach swimming (in general)", then you cannot use leren. Instead you would say: "Ik geef zwemles" (I give swimming lessons). "Lesgeven" is the most common term when you are teaching something, but do not want to specify to whom.
What if you just wanted to say, "I teach"? As a teacher, that's my typical response when someone asks, "What do you do for a living?"
You would say "Ik geef les", or the simpler "Ik ben een leraar/onderwijzer".
Well, in Polish you have it even potentially even more confusing - you can always use the same word for both learn/teach (uczyć), but if you learn you just add the right preposition (się) while if you teach, you don't use it.