Language teachers ahoy! A Dutch total immersion course, but here in England, as a follow up to my 90 Day Challenge!

Something has gone wrong when i corrected a spelling mistake. Gobbledegook appeared! I have reposted below!!


Nou, ik ben geen professional ofzo. Maar ik ben heel blij dat je zoveel plezier beleeft aan het leren van Nederlands. Ik zou zeggen begin eraan en je zult daarna vanzelf ervaren of het misschien te ambitieus is. In ieder geval veel succes gewenst vanuit Nederland!

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Sounds great! (and what a wonderful progress / success story.)

Little, focused and often is the key.

As to writing, rather than composing some ‘grammar’ sentences, sometimes it is useful to use a fountain pen to copy favourite sentences or paragraphs onto good paper. The care of observation employed tends to make the content more memorable.

Wait till you start dreaming in Dutch! This happens during immersion courses, so you can look forward to it, too!

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A quick report on my Dutch Challenge. And can I pick the brains of language tutors - but also anyone who has ever done an immersion course?

The Challenge
I successfully finished the 90 Day Challenge on Christmas Eve, (it turned out to be an 80 Day Challenge not a 90 Day one, but I gather this is solved. Horrendous problems with my mortarboard - which I want to an extent that is completely childish!! Alex promises it for next week!)

The Challenge was incredibly hard work as, for a fortnight in the first month, I was away on holiday with a very dodgy internet connection .

Catching up on lost listening was a complete nightmare. Beware of this, new Challengers!

But was the time well spent? An enormous YES!

I started with really poor listening skills despite doing quite a lot of Skyping for the two months before I started the Challenge.

When I started, I followed Sylvia and Faulya’s podcasts with difficulty But the around 90 hours of listening I did during the actual 90 days of the Challenge have made a really massive difference, not just to my listening but to my attitude to language learning.

First, the progress. Nearly four months after I started the Challenge, I can listen to the Dutch Youth News and get most of it. Yes, OK, the presenters speak more slowly and the language is less complex to allow for its young audience (Unfortunately the kids all speak at the speed of light!).

But I know that listening to this regularly is going to allow me to make the transition to the mainstream News programmes. Don’t know when… but for the first time since I started Dutch, I really do know it’s going to happen. Sometime!

Second, Confidence! I now know I’ll have a fighting chance of understanding at least some of the other side of the conversation.

Now, when I ring my boatyard to ask about progress on winter jobs, it never occurs to me that these conversations will be in any other language but Dutch! OK, they are short and I’m prepared…. but they happen!! Now the biggest problem is the fact that the guy who runs the boat yard loathes the telephone and whispers down it.

Here’s another example…. When I went to Arnhem for three days when I was half way though the Challenge, I managed to get by without using English at all - except in the evenings when I met (for only the second time!) my bilingual Dutch penfriend of three and a half years who was also my first long distance Dutch teacher!

What was so interesting was I went, knowing that I could do it!

And I think this attitude came out of the whole ethos of LingQ. All those people who swap tips and engender a “can do” attitude!

So a huge thank you to LingQ!

Now guys what am I going to do next???

A second Challenge isn’t very appealing because the Advanced LingQ library is hugely unattractive to me! I read the Bothers Grimm, The Three Musketeers and Don Quixote when i was sixteen. Once was quite enough. Max Havelaar is too advanced for me. The problem is that I really want to read modern fiction. And that’s difficult to import and then LingQ. Or at least I find it so. This doesn’t mean I am giving up on LingQ

So I need another approach that will allow me to keep up the momentum. Here’s what I plan.

Total Immersion NOT in my L2 country

I have decided to do a week’s total immersion course in Dutch - not in the Netherlands but here in Whitby in England. And I want some advice about how best to use my time.

I plan to insulate myself from Monday to Friday (OK, not a full week) from all English. No newspapers, books, television, radio, emails, phone calls, visit to friends. Not even visits to the shops. I can walk on the cliffs and probably not see anyone, let alone anyone I know…

I have lined up my Skype tutor to give me some extra time - we talk for half an hour (my limit) on most weekdays. He tells me that i need some other Dutch voices. Silvia has kindly offered one or two evenings. My pen friend will help - and he speaks really guttural Dutch. (Understanding him properly is my ultimate goal!!).

I will watch Dutch television, listen to Dutch radio. I have Dutch talking books. I have Dutch novels. So I will be able to watch, listen and read.

Now do i need to spend time in this week on writing???

Both my penfriend and my Italki tutor think my grammar is not bad, but I’m horrifically sloppy.I suspect Silvia might agree. Now i’m never going to work in The Netherlands and i’m never going to take an exam!! This is a hobby! So i didn’t think I’d include writing.

But am I right?

I should say that writing was how I learned my initial Dutch and I like it. But I think it’s not necessary for the next leap forward.

So what balance of speaking / listening / reading??

I thought an hour and a half of speaking in 3 slots.
I thought maybe three hours of listening, broken into lots of slots
I thought may be three hours of reading ditto

I thought lots of breaks

I’ll listen to Dutch and Belgian classical music stations when cooking etc.

Now I should say that I am no spring chicken - very far from it. So I don’t have the stamina that I had in my twenties and thirties or even my forties and fifties. Is this ambitious enough, too ambitious… or what?

I can’t believe this won’t move me forward! But what do you professionals think?


You’re doing wonderfully well and really have to congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come and how dedicated you are!
Personally, I don’t think age comes into it (I’m around your age so I would say that ;)) and if Steve can learn so well at 70 then why not us!

I’ve always found that writing things down, however small or large, makes it stick in the brain far more easily.

Keep up the immersion and all the studies and you’ll soon be feeling quite comfortable in the boat yard!

Alle beste wensen, Sue.

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I could do with a language teacher view about whether I have the balance right or wrong, but I see I have posted this on the English forum not on the general forum. Does this matter, Sanne? Will people see it here? Or should I repost just the bit about the immersion on the general forum - with an apology for covering the same subject in two places?

Thanks Sanne and Sue! The active encouragement on this site makes such a difference I find!

I think it is interesting you both suggest that i should include writing. I like the idea of writing down correct dutch I like. Evgueny has suggested that i write down at the end of the day my impressions for the day - and I think this is also a great idea. Should add that I like the idea of a pen and fine paper…

It could be useful to head it something more general like “Immersion adive sought”.

Quite a few members are experienced teachers and learners, like Evgueny and @doo and others. I used to teach German at the Imperial College for some time and took a TEFL certification course to teach English. While all that was long time ago, it seems to me that you are striking a perfect balance. Listening, speaking, reviewing, writing, it’s all there.

You could introduce exercises such as summarising, writing down key points, much as you are already doing in preparation for your Skype conversations, but the key is that you are doing the right thing in terms of having short breaks (complete breaks) between activities.

So, yes, copy and paste the body of your great post and reword the title for the Open Forum on LingQ

Thanks as always! Struggling with school governor stuff ( a good struggle for excellence) and then will take your advice!