Moving abroad brings its own unique set of challenges no matter where you go. Even "serial expats" find new challenges in each location - many of which center around language. Our move to the Netherlands has been no different, and language continues to be a daily challenge.
Dutch is a difficult language to learn - this is something that almost every Dutch person I have met will tell me, and I can't help but agree with them. To me, the words are totally unique, related to German, related to English, or related to French. The pronunciation is hard - there are sounds that do no exist in American English that I'm now training my mouth to make, and I often feel like I'm walking around with a giant question mark hovering over my head. But what may surprise you (and it's certainly surprised me) is that the main part of my "language challenge" is that many people simply speak English to me.
The Dutch are amazing with their English. The schools teach English and other languages, and some high schools even teach all subjects in English, the idea being that in a country with a relatively small population in an ever globalizing economy people will benefit from knowing more languages. Because of this very forward thinking attitude, most people I come in contact with are minimally "conversationally fluent" and are often keen on speaking English when my Dutch takes a turn for the incomprehensible. It's an act of kindness, and often I feel better to be relieved of the embarrassment, but it makes it harder to learn Dutch.
I need to force myself to keep speaking Dutch, even when I struggle, and not fall back on the reliance that everyone speaks English. It's an unexpected challenge in the language learning process, but I'm up for it. So here's to keeping up the motivation and powering through.
Today's post is part of the Expat Experience Link Up hosted by Molly at The Move to America. Please be sure to check out the other great posts on today's topic.