[Free Step-by-Step Guide]: Learn Dutch in just 3 months with the F.A.S.T. method

You have already studied English as your second language. Perhaps you’ve learned it as a child or a teenager. As you already know, learning a language as an adult is different. That’s why I’ve created the adult specific F.A.S.T. method to teach you Dutch in just 3 months, even if you don’t speak a word right now.

Hello, I am Sofia Karfi, founder of Language and Motivation online language school. I have created the F.A.S.T. method which is based on the work of the professor Olivier Delhaye from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. 


This methodology is specifically designed for three kinds of learners:

  1. For people who study or aspire to study independently, and/or
  2. For people who want to speak Dutch in the near future, and/or
  3. For people who need to learn Dutch urgently for work.

Is that you?

If you have answered yes, you’re in the right place and I’m happy to see you here! 

The F.A.S.T. method explained

We wanted to gather all the principles of Language and Motivation and make them visual. We were successful on that and this venn diagram encapsulates everything that the F.A.S.T. method stands for!

Let’s take it step by step. 

F. stands for Fundamentals based 

With the F.A.S.T. method you’ll focus on the fundamentals. Since you are learning the language because you have a specific need to cover, whether that need is of high importance or not, you’ll focus on setting good foundations and learning what’s necessary. You’ll begin learning the language with the basics, because these basics are what is important in the beginning. For example, in Dutch, when you wish to introduce yourself to someone and your name is Maria, you need to know the phrase, “Ik ben Maria”. That’s what we call basic. Learning the infinitive of the verb ‘to be’ is useful, but not more useful than the first person: Ik ben. Another example is to cultivate the ability to have a general, practical sense of what people are saying and, later on, to focus on understanding 100%, word for word, what those people said. 

This is how it’s done with other things in life as well. We always start with the more general knowledge of a subject before we go deeper into it. We later comprehend its intricacies and become specialists. Where is the meaning of knowing how to conjugate a verb and not knowing how to form a sentence that is relevant to you? Where is the essence of learning the exceptions of a rule if we can’t even use the rule itself?

A. stands for Adult-specific:

The F.A.S.T. method is addressed to adults. Adults are usually more ready to take on the responsibility of reaching their targets and of the amount of studying required. In contrast to a child or a teenager, who will need the supervision of a parent, adults can commit to these 3 to 6 hours of study time per week in order to learn a new language. They also have the life motivations to do so. 

The content of the educational material includes the current news and business subjects that our students are most interested in; activities that are relevant to our adult lives. As an adult, you already have an understanding of the learning process, something that a child has not yet mastered. This is the reason why you can learn faster as an adult than when you were a child. 

S. stands for Stimulating: 

Yes, our students are excited about the F.A.S.T. method!

Our teachers relish the fact that our students are genuinely interested in our materials, ask probing questions, are encouraged to share their experiences, and often want to study more. It’s also great for students to feel encouraged by their teachers and to strengthen the parts of the language that need attention. As a student you’ll feel  activated by a learning method that is different, far from boring, and happy that you have found what you’ve been looking for. We want to make our students feel unique and not transparent like you might feel in a class of many students and multiple mother tongues. 

Successful teachers must, as priority, help their students love what they learn. Rather than the lessons being tiring, they will become a fuel that will raise your energy levels and help your day run smoothly!. This is true for student and teacher. Our language center is not named Language and Motivation by accident!

We prove everyday, with all aspects of our work, that our approach encourages and strengthens our students. We’ve got that mental state, we’ve got the tools to do it and the only piece of the puzzle left is that characteristic of the student that will help them believe that they can do it. This is how everyday miracles happen! 

T. stands for Tailor made:

If you are a priest and you are willing, you can study the Testament with us in the language that you are learning. We have done it before! If you are the CEO of Coca-Cola, you can learn how to compose great speeches for your company’s AGM. We have done it before! If you are a member of the European Parliament, you can learn how to express yourself clearly on issues that concern you in the Parliament. We have done it before! If you are a psychoanalyst in a Greek university and want to attend lectures abroad and practice answering possible questions from the audience, you will practice exactly that, and nothing less. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that we have done this, as well! These examples are just a few of the many particular needs of students that have completed one, to three, or even four semesters with Language and Motivation.

As a working adult, you might have a family and limited available time. What you need is to learn the language so it can be of service to you, focusing on your  main purpose first, and then all the rest later. The language is one, but the vocabulary that you use in everyday life for specific purposes is what needs to be considered the priority. This way the language lessons will satisfy your needs, fast! 

If we know your “why” and your target, we can guide you there, as long as we work together in harmony!

We’re certain that the F.A.S.T. method is the most innovative way to learn a foreign language, and that it’s here to stay. You can take advantage of it and we, all of the Language and Motivation teachers, are here to welcome you with a vibrant smile, and to help you on your way to learning a language in only a few months! 

If you’re ready to go, we are. Let’s get started!

F.A.S.T. vs Traditional Method

You could learn the traditional way, but it might be expensive, boring and it could take years. 

The mistake most language learners make is to stay limited in the most popular and traditional method of learning: “Books, cheap teachers, little to no study”.

And even intensive language learners do the same, slowing down their progress and making it harder than it needs to be.

The traditional learning methods that exist don’t work efficiently for adults who wish to speak a new language quickly. A book that plays a guiding role can’t do this fast enough.

The F.A.S.T. method is the key to speaking Dutch in just 3 months and you’re about to discover exactly how it works, but first it’s important to understand how an adult can learn a new language fast. 

HOW?
Avoiding boring homework by connecting the language you are learning to your life is the key to going from zero to B1 in 3 months and it’s possible with the F.A.S.T. method.

That makes it simple, but don’t expect it to be a walk in the park.

Once you understand the principles of the methodology, you have to put in the work.

It’s fun, as easy as possible, and effective.

No boring exercise books or long hours of studying grammar rules. You will learn by doing.

Start using the language from day one. Literally, day one.

Imagine feeling confident to talk about your favorite topics to new friends in Dutch. 

Imagine how it’ll feel to amaze your boss, clients, or colleagues with crazy progress in such a short amount of time. 

Perhaps you even tried learning Dutch before but it was just too difficult. Well, it’s probably because you were following a non-engaging methodology. 

You see, the way the brain works is that you have to ‘wire in’ words and grammar at an emotional level through real practice. Staring at page after page of a boring textbook just doesn’t do that very well.

But now that you know why it’s so important to engage the brain in a non-boring way, as an adult language learner, you’re ready to apply the F.A.S.T. method to learn Dutch in just 3 months

That’s why we created the F.A.S.T. method, to help you learn in a way that’s fun and effective – and much cheaper than you’d normally pay for an intensive language-learning class. 

Below, I will describe the F.A.S.T. method in three steps.

It’s the same method that we used with a group of Dutch teachers to teach more than 140 students so far and with 100% success rate on their exams. 

Now that I have trained other teachers in this method, who have the same success rate, we have the capacity to make the F.A.S.T method available, for the first time ever, to a much wider audience.

100% OF THE STUDENTS WHO PREPARE EFFICIENTLY WITH US, SUCCEED AT THEIR EXAMS!

Yes, every student that has used the F.A.S.T method has learned the language and passed their exams. 

On average, they studied just 5 to 8 hours a week — that’s about one hour a day.

This is a 100% success rate. 

With the traditional methods many students fail to pass their exams, even if they have been studying the language for a longer time. 

Infographic presenting the differences between the traditional vs the F.A.S.T. method. Click on image to find a higher resolution version.

The F.A.S.T. method in 3 steps

1.  Fun educational material 

1.1 Online newspaper articles

We have chosen 6 articles of 40-50 words long and their topics vary but usually it’s about actual facts. The goal is to help people get familiarized with the structure of the language. This is a successful way of diving directly into real texts and approaching the language through a variety of dimensions. 

For each one of these six articles there is a specific mission described in the beginning. Therefore, you will have full guidance on how to start and what to focus on. They are accompanied by a step-by-step instructional video that explains how to go through each of them. It goes like this: Translate the first, summarize the second in Dutch, same thing for the third but in English, read the fourth out loud and record your voice reading it, summarize again the next one and finish with reading out loud the last one.

Here is an example of one article:

Click on the image to view an example of the articles we use for the first lesson of Dutch.

In case some activities are really hard for you, e.g. master the pronunciation, we recommend you to follow the 80/20 rule of progress. Your goal is to respond to the instruction of the activity at 80%, if it’s too difficult let the other 20% be done during the lesson.

Go for progress rather than perfection.

This way you can finish all your homework without being desperately exhausted!

1.2 Tongue Twisters 

You will play with tongue-twisters and learn by reading them fluently. It’s important to practice your pronunciation at the beginning of the learning process. Once you‘ve learnt how to pronounce the most difficult words and phrases, the rest will be a piece of cake.

I came across this practice in 2016 when I got trained in this method by my professor O. Delhaye, AUTH, and since then, all our students have experienced this fun and constructive approach to pronunciation.

Tongue twister example.
WHAT DO YOU GAIN FROM TONGUE-TWISTERS?
  1. They are fun and very effective. 
  2. They get people to pronounce the most difficult words from the very beginning of the learning process. 

Don’t try to learn a tongue-twister by just reciting. You won’t gain a lot from that. 

Instead, follow these steps:

  • Have visual contact with the tongue-twister and listen to how it is pronounced, at least three times.
  • Make an effort to understand the meaning of the tongue-twister as a sentence.
    You can use Google Translate for that.
  • Break it down and understand the meaning of each word. Use Google Translate’s speaker feature to listen to each word and repeat it every time you hear it. It is very important to be loud and clear in repeating the words. 
  • Start combining the words.Two – three at a time. Three words in a row is a good way to get a handle on the tongue-twister, bit by bit. If the sentence is 10 words long, you can separate it into three sections, or according to the meaning. 
  • Open Google Translate in the Chrome browser. There, you have the ability to record your voice as an input option. Practice while recording and if the words that appear in the box are correct, that means that you are saying it right! And that is a major victory!
    This is the best way to practice your tongue-twisters up to the point where it comes out fluently.
  • Repeat the tongue-twister, until it comes out naturally. It is important to focus more on how it sounds and not so much on the speed.

That was a quick run down.

We practice pronunciation through other methods as well, we will stumble upon them later on. 

1.3 Best memory of your life

Write down a story about the best memory of your life. Use past tenses. 

This is my favorite part. My absolute favorite part. This activity combines what you have already acquired with new knowledge through a story that you write using the past tense. 

And, I’m telling you, it’s extremely powerful!

It’s your first long writing assignment, 40-60 words. 

Let’s see how you can do this: 

The following questions will help you to compose your writing. 

Where were you?
With whom?
Why and for what purpose were you there?
How was the weather?
How did you go there?
What day or time was it?
What happened?
Why is this the best memory?

Your goal is to start using past tenses, new vocabulary but also vocabulary that you already know. 

HOW WILL YOU FIND VERBS IN PAST TENSES IN ORDER TO USE THEM?

Yes, you guessed it right, you will find them by using all the help you can get from Google Translate, a friend, a colleague, a dictionary, anything or anyone that can be of service.

We won’t give all the answers to you. You’ll be the one in control of your learning. 

When you finish writing your paragraph, go through it by reading it. Stop and think about it. Stop at bits that you understand fully and repeat them. The ones that do not fully comprehended yet, look them up and get familiar with the new verbs and vocabulary used. 

Important information: 

Focus on the parts that you already understand. It’s a lot more than you think.

It’s important to go through this positive memory and write it down, because, first of all, it’s fun. Second of all, by going through a pleasant memory like that, you get motivated and surround yourself with positive emotions, which in turn trigger and activate the brain for better learning. 

Yes, you got help to write this essay, but while you were at it, you learned useful words, practiced how they are written and pronounced. This is more constructive than just learning some new vocabulary that a book would suggest. Additionally, it’s of crucial importance to use your way to express yourself in order to describe something in real life. 

When an exercise provides you with something useful, this is the key to learn Dutch fast. 

1.4 Record your voice

A reading mission.

Now is time for more original exercises! 

At this point you have to use a voice recording tool on your computer or your phone. You will record yourself reciting clearly, at a fluent pace, a text of about 100 words. This is accompanied by an audio file.

We have made the choice of an interesting story that you will read with the purpose of practicing your reading and pronunciation skills. 

You will hear the native speaker read this text and you can listen to it multiple times. After that you can start doing the same. Spot which words are difficult for you to pronounce and repeat them several times. In the end you will make it, you just need to believe in yourself and be persistent!
We ask that you record your voice while reading because it motivates good performance, keeps you active and drives your improvement at all levels. Try it at least 3 times and send your best recording to your teacher! 

1.5 Imagine the Happy Arrival

A famous coaching method is to visualize your success when you achieve your goals. 
WHAT IS A HAPPY ARRIVAL?

The moment when we reach our goal! Just imagine…

Maybe a happy arrival for you is the moment that you are amongst friends and you are speaking and understanding each other in Dutch. Another happy arrival for you might be to do terrific on an interview!

As you imagine it, this exercise requires you to describe it as if it’s happening now. 

Photograph the moment. Where are you? With whom are you? What are you wearing?
How are the surroundings, how do you FEEL? Let the emotions sink and describe the situation as if you‘re already there.

You can do it if you believe it! 

Visualization should not be confused with the “think it and you will be it”. It is not a gimmick, nor does it involve dreaming or hoping for a better future.

In life and work, success begins with a goal. Big or small, goals give us purpose and, like a compass, keep us headed in the right direction. Of course, it then takes lots of work and determination to reach your destination.

Just over 2,000 years ago, Aristotle described the process this way: “First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”

SEEING IS BELIEVING

Before we can believe in a goal, we first must have an idea of what it looks like. 

This is where visualization comes in, which is simply a technique for creating a mental image of a future event. When we visualize our desired outcome, we begin to “see” the possibility of achieving it. Through visualization, we catch a glimpse of what our desired future looks like. When this happens, we are motivated and prepared to pursue our goal.

Visualization does not guarantee success. It also does not replace work and practice. But when combined with diligent effort and, I would add, a strong support network, it is a powerful way to achieve positive, behavioral change and create the life you desire. 


First you imagine the miracle and then you realize it. 

1.6 Motivational letter

Get prepared for your future!

The majority of our students are people who wish to learn Dutch for work related reasons. They are either aiming to get a job in their field of expertise or looking to progress further in their career. 

When we go through the educational material of the B1 level we focus on useful vocabulary that is related to the work and area of expertise of the learner. In order to go deeper, we create a mission for the learner, to best present their skills and experience through the form of writing a motivational letter. 

Trust me, covering these real-world communication needs is the best way to motivate people and make them fully engaged in their language learning process. 

As is expected, everybody loves this way of learning and they end up feeling deeply satisfied by  the F.A.S.T method when learning Dutch.

It is extremely rewarding to receive more than what you’ve expected. It’s the “extra mile” we want to go for our students!

1.7 Extra speaking missions

…because Speaking is key!

You will continue with videos of 1-3 minutes in length, put the subtitles on and then make summaries.

This is the exercise that learners love the most!

-Why?
-Because it includes videos! 

In this step you receive 3 videos that examine current affairs, each approximately 1-3 minutes long (max 3 mins). Put the subtitles on and pay attention.

This is an example of one video we provide. 

The goal is: 

  1. To understand what the video is about.
  2. To think about, in your native language, the subject of the video.
  3. To create a summary of the video in the language that you are learning. 
  4. You need to read this summary aloud. Imagine you are describing it to someone else. Loud and clear. 

Tools for that:

  • Google Translate.
  • Your imagination and knowledge of other languages to guess the words that might be foreign to you.
  • Word editor or plain pen and paper to keep notes of the most important things of the video you watch. 

This is an exercise so unique that you won’t find something like this in traditional learning books. It helps you form sentences and paragraphs based on how you would form them naturally, without dictating a foreign way of expression. We learn to speak with our own choice of words and not through a language book. This is the reason why it is so effective and the learning process so deep. It’s extremely powerful. 

What to do: 

Use the simplest words that you already know, or that you learned through the video, in order to make this summary. 

Become a parrot because in the long run it will come handy. 

What not to do: 

Don’t try to use very hard vocabulary or only new words in your text. Help yourself to do what the exercise requires, using the most suitable words. It’s already an accomplishment that you are able to mediate a 1-3 minutes of video into the language you are learning. Therefore, stay with this flow and enjoy the step by step progress that you are already making!

2. Practice with Past Papers, instead of books

Work on all parts of the language with past papers from previous exams. Start with levels A1-A2 and then go on. 
Do I reach the B1 level in all parts of the language or just in Speaking
To ALL!

Most of the time we believe that the capacity to speak is the most important part of the language, but the truth is the other three skills are just as important. These are: Reading, Listening and Writing. 

  • Why is it important to work on all parts of the language with past papers from previous exams?
  • Let’s see why all skills are equally important in order to learn Dutch efficiently.  

Reading

As expats in a country, it often happens to receive official papers from the government or municipality, etc. It’s something that we need to be equipped to handle. This is one of the reasons why we need to be good at reading comprehension. 

Listening

Listening comprehension is crucial in order to be able to understand what others are trying to say to us, or what the news are talking about, or the prime minister’s speech, or the local news…

Writing

In order to be able to compose a text message or a work email, we need to be efficient in writing skills in the language we are learning. 

Speaking

Finally, equally important, Speaking plays an important role in the learning process with the F.A.S.T. method because it gives us the ability to to express what we wish to communicate, with words of our choosing. 

BUT WHY DO WE USE MATERIAL FROM PREVIOUS EXAMS?

Well.

While we might believe that the speaking part and the ability to communicate verbally is the most important part in a language, all the rest, like writing and listening, are equally important.  

Let me explain. 

Using past papers is how we guarantee trust and credibility in our approach. We always use past papers from official organizations that provide certificates that offer a higher standard in the use of the language. The target of the exercises is to test the general knowledge level of the language and also test the exceptions and special rules of the language. Therefore, these tests provide a very useful source of information. 

So, we don’t provide a sheet with rules but we use this method of past papers to go through them in a very efficient way. They keep us alert and teach what is important for learning the language. We don’t use these papers to examine the students, but we use them as exercises to learn the language. 

When reading past papers your main focus should be on answering the questions. For example, if one exercise is about filling the blanks, then you are trying to understand and translate the text in order to do that, you are not interested in pronunciation or anything else. 

How do we work from past papers from previous exams?

2.1 Reading

You answer questions concerning a text that you read and, although you might not get everything, you can still answer correctly. The level is always aimed a tiny bit higher to make room for progress and for exceptional students. For example, if you are A2 level and you are asked to do exercises from A2 level. In the collection of those exercises there are always some that are “harder” and they are the ones that make an excellent student stand forward. Also, these exercises give you the chance to learn something new, like an exception to a grammar rule or vocabulary that can guide you further up the learning ladder. 

The goal is always the same, to answer the questions that are being asked, nothing more, nothing less. You can use any tool in order to find the words that you want to use, like Google Translate, the help of a dictionary or a friend. 

In the Dutch language exams we come about relatively simple multiple choice exercises or completion of sentences. However, depending on the examination source, the subjects become more demanding. For example,the exercise might be for the candidate to read a text and then create their own text, essentially to write a report. We refer to this as demanding because it’s not often found in other language exams, mostly in Dutch. 

One tip that you might find useful for answering these types of questions: You can translate the text to your own language first. Sometimes the issue is not lack of knowledge of Dutch but it becomes complicated and clears up with a translation word by word to your mother tongue. 

2.2 Listening

Listening is very similar to reading comprehension. You just need to answer the questions that are being asked, you don’t necessarily need to understand everything.
The answers will come in many forms: 

  • Multiple choice
  • Complete sentences with one or more words, depending on the level, just like the reading section. 
  • Write a text after listening to an audio file. 

You can always go back to the audio file and listen to it as many times as needed. Don’t forget that the purpose of these exercises is to learn and not test you. 

Why is this important?

  • To get familiar with the sounds, with difficult words and the rhythm of the speaker. 
  • To become active and involved with the speaker. This leads to faster and better learning. 

The fact that we include past papers from various examination organizations in our educational material offers subject variety, presentation diversification and thus, it’s more interesting for the student who is building a solid foundation with all those different sources and styles of examination. And don’t forget we are just talking about learning the language, we are not even talking about exam preparation yet.

When you handle B1 files, the exercises have become substantially more demanding compared to the A1-A2, even if the B1 level is considered an intermediate language level. The student know learns harder and more precise vocabulary and manages to use it directly in real and day to day sentences. 

Example: A student listens to the complaints of a company’s customer. Then they are asked to compose a text based on what they’ve heard. 

Therefore, if there is a situation in real life where this person needs to express some complaints as a customer or become the receiver of them, they will know who to do it. They will know even if they are only on B1 level in the Dutch language. 

Tips for how to approach the listening exercises: 

2.3 Writing

You are trying to construct your first sentences, up to 40 words for A1 level and 60 words for A2 level and even write cover letters for level B1. 

I will cut through the chase and give you specific examples of “Essays” that depending on the level, will help you write Dutch correctly, either you do it with pen and paper or on the computer. 

For A1-A2 levels: 

You send a postcard saying thank you or hello because you have moved. 

You write a friendly email, approximately 40-80 words, to book an appointment.

You write text according to some images that tell a story. 

At the NT2 exams, some exercises ask you to fill the gaps of sentences that are already written but not complete. 

TIP!
WHEN YOUR SENTENCE IS EXPLANATORY, IT INCLUDES THE WORD “BECAUSE” THIS UPGRADES YOUR WRITING AUTOMATICALLY FROM A1 TO A2. 

For B1 level: 

  • You respond to a letter from the municipality by composing a text of about 120 words.
  • You complete individual sentences with your own words. 
  • You fill in whole sentences in text. 
  • You compost a text based on images that tell a story. 

As you can tell, the requirements regarding the size of the texts you write increase as the level progresses and the topics also differentiate. 

I would like to mention at this point that we like the F.A.S.T. method to go one step further and offer our students something more! This is encapsulated by the following sentence. To ensure that the student reaches level B1 in 3 months we like to work already with B2 material. We do this in order for me, the courses manager, to be able to assure our students that if they proceed with the required studying time and do their part, then they will reach the B1 level in 3 months and that is a promise!

2.4 Speaking

Part A

How do we work the speaking part on our own? Some role playing is involved. You enter the role of the exam candidate. So what do you do as a candidate? You practice the topics on which you are going to be examined. The exams in real life can be the lesson with the teacher, or when someone asks you questions to describe things about yourself. Practice makes perfect and when time comes you will be able to respond. At the A1 level you are expected to be able to answer personal questions like age, work, hobbies, family, etc. At first up to 10 questions. 

How do you do this? 

a. You have a question you wish to answer.

b. You enter the answer in Google Translate in English and it translates it to Dutch.

c. You listen to the translation many times. 

d. You start practicing the answer loud and clear and with understanding all the words. You start word by word and you build up. Exactly like you did with the tongue twisters. 

Later on, you will speak for some more topics. You just follow the same steps. 

Part B

Other topics that we find in past exams of recent years have to do with image description. When you practice describing many different images or photographs, you learn new vocabulary, by subject, a common practice of the traditional method. This is because these photos might show rooms in a house, people doing various sports, winter or summer activities, etc. The great advantage of the F.A.S.T. method vs the traditional one is that at this point you use your own words to describe the images. You speak from your own point of view. This way you end up discovering and memorizing all the words that you will find useful. Each of us uses different words to describe the same thing and this difference should not be limited by a text book that dictates which words to learn. 

I have mentioned image description but we also come across story description with the use of images. This is usual for the CNaVT exams. 

For NT2 degrees you practice in dialogues where you are assigned with a role from the exercise or the images. 

So we see that the exam topics of different organizations provide us with a variety of activities. Often our students are not interested in taking exams for A1-A2 levels but it’s necessary for one to comprehend their requirements and of course develop skills in all parts of the language. 

And finally…

Part C

Another exam organization provides online activities where you can listen to some questions, as if they were asked in real life. Someone will ask you something about yourself and you will need to answer that. You take your time, prepare what you want to say and record your voice giving the right answer. The fact that the questions come from a ministry website gives prestige, something that every student needs in order to feel confident. 

This is how you practice during your study time at home. This practice continues in the lesson, with the irreplaceable help of your teacher. You learn to answer more than twenty questions correctly, in your own way and with a perfect accent. Many of our students have received congratulations for their pronunciation! And this is just the beginning in developing your Dutch speaking skills! 

3. Only the Essential Grammar

You won’t get caught in the textbook, but we’ve chosen the fundamental grammar blocks you need that give you 80% of daily grammar in just 20% of the time that you would normally invest in studying grammar traditionally.

3.1 The role of grammar

Is grammar completely useless?

This is what Célestin Freinet, a renowned French educator, pondered. He posed the question if learning grammar actually serves any useful purpose. Objective experimental studies have shown that the way grammar is being taught is in reality not useful and it results in confusion. 

We respect the science, we follow and we refer to it during teaching, when that is necessary. 

What makes a bicycle specialist?

Do you believe that the laws of engineering or the rules of balance help the cyclist to master their bicycle? Who might be a better cyclist? The one who is good in theory or the one who practices every day? I believe that the answer is pretty clear. Someone could go so far as to say that theoretical knowledge might be blocking the learning process. You will never achieve the precious balance just by theoretical approach, but only through practice. And once you get on that bike you keep pedaling. 

What happens if grammar is useless?

There is no doubt that grammar is useless at the beginning stage of learning a language. 

Pay attention to the people around you, you will realize that some have forgotten the grammar rules that they were taught so methodically in the past. If those rules were mandatory for someone to be able to write, they wouldn’t be able to write then. But that’s not true. There is no connection between knowing the rules of grammar and practicing the language in an appropriate manner. 

As there is no correlation between knowing the laws of engineering and mastering the balance on a bicycle. 

3.2 Grammar: Where, when, how and why. 

Where?

It’s in the head of the student and not in some grammar book.
It’s temporary, strictly personal and inevitably incomplete. If you ask a precise question regarding the function of Greek in 25 students, you will receive 25 different viewpoints!

When?

Only when it’s needed. Rarely at the beginning of the learning process, but most likely when we hear the sentence “How does it work?” or “But then, when…?” during the lesson. 

How?

When the time comes to look up a grammar rule and without getting astray from the actual question we use textbooks as references. The teacher does not enter the lesson with the intention to teach the students, for example the list of conjunctions or expressions that someone might need to put the verb at the end of a sentence.

If the students express the need to theoritise this phenomenon, the teacher will help them to discover by themselves that the words that fit in order to place a verb in the end of a sentence are omdat, als, dat, wat etc.

Benefits of this system: 
  • Grammar is learned when the student feels the need.
  • The application of grammar will be immediate and not in pointless exercises.
  • As a learner you gradually gain your autonomy because you formulate the capability to understand the theory of grammar through your personal conclusions. 
Why?
  • In order to learn faster, to learn how to learn! The conventional grammar lesson can also help some students to compose texts fast, but those texts will probably be poor and boring. 
  • The conventional grammar lesson could potentially lead the students to a metalanguage vortex, where they know more about the theory behind the language when in reality they are not able to use it. 

3.3 The F.A.S.T. approach to grammar and the content of the files you will receive

You can learn faster by trusting the process and learning grammar along the way and not in the form of rules.

Why?

Because our goal is to speak using grammar and not the other way around. Therefore, our focus is to use theory properly.

Here are some examples of what the grammar files contain up to the B1 level:

  1. You will receive the first grammar file after the second week. We will start with basic verbs like “I am”, “I have” and “I go”. You will remember most of them from the material of previous weeks, because they will definitely appear somewhere. You should read them aloud along with the most common verbs you have encountered and then make an effort to remember them.

    When you come across something you do not remember in this file you can quickly search for it and discover a new part of the language. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know everything off the top of your head. Everything will fall into place automatically through the process.
  2. You will also find the most common regular verb. For example, if you are learning Dutch, the most common verb is “werken” which means “I work”. Look it up and find how it is conjugated in different tenses. If you learn this, you will automatically know how to conjugate the vast majority of regular verbs in Dutch.

    Why do you have to learn how regular verbs are conjugated?
    Because in your texts you will have already encountered some of them and it will be a good time to start getting acquainted with them and how they are used. 

    Why is it important?
    Because that’s the way you learn. In order to be able to use them even in the beginning, when you are not yet familiar with the theory.
  1. In the first grammar file, you will encounter the same common verbs multiple times, in a variety of tenses. However, there will be no theoretical explanation or labels.

    The reasons behind this:
  • Since you are an adult learning a new language, we consider you to be quite capable of understanding or even guessing which tense is appropriate. If you feel confident like this then the F.A.S.T. method is 100% effective. The traditional method on the other hand, requires grammar books and starts with personal pronouns: I, you, he, etc. This way of learning is just a waste of time.
  • In addition, the moment you start wondering what’s in front of you and you look it up, then you become an active learner. This is the moment when real and effective learning takes place. Because your mind works and it is actively seeking for something that will make sense and help you understand. You cannot achieve that when you just follow a book or a teacher.
  1. Up next is relative pronouns and articles. You may not even know what relative pronouns are in the same way I find it hard to explain the specifics of a Cloud in Informatics!

    These terms may be just a noise for you. The important thing is to use these relative pronouns correctly.

    We will give you some pronouns here and there and in reality you are peeking in the book of the level A2 grammar without knowing it! You initiate a first contact and next you encounter articles through some examples:

    E.g. de man, de vrouw, de mensen, het meel.

    Again, you may not care that these words are called articles, nor the theory behind it. The following grammar file that you will receive will help you comprehend these even more and help you through examples to use them correctly. I know very well that this is your main concern. And it makes sense. Unless you are a language teacher, or you plan to become one and then you need to know how the parts of a sentence are named.
  2. Up next, more articles, pronouns and numbers.

    Ok, numbers are not a grammar phenomenon but you study them, even if you already know some of them in the second month of lessons!

    In these files you will encounter grammar or non-grammar related topics and the aim is to use them as references. A fundamental base to refer to when you move forward with your language learning.
  3. Prepositions such as uit: out, via: through, achter: behind and others are the contents of the last grammar file you receive up to the B1 level.

    During the lesson, you will practice all the knowledge you have acquired by studying at home and you will also learn several things related to grammar from your teacher. The notes you take in the lesson will help you complete the learning puzzle with the pieces you need.

    If you are open to the joy of learning without the boring Mrs.Grammar, then you will experience the miracle of learning a language without studying volumes of theory. Instead, you will have saved time and you can invest it in things that interest you more.

A new life is waiting for you! Go after your goals and enhance your living experience. 

Get everything that the country you live in has to offer and submerge yourself socially, instead of feeling left out. You can be in a wonderful working environment by learning Dutch fast, methodically and efficiently.

We invite you to book a call with Sofia Karfi and share with us YOUR motivation.

Thank you very much,

Sofia Karfi

Sofia Karfi[Free Step-by-Step Guide]: Learn Dutch in just 3 months with the F.A.S.T. method