11 December 2020

My first semester studying a new language

I’m Lottie Armett and I’m in First Year, studying Beginners’ Dutch and Post A-Level German. Here is my story of picking up a new language. In my case: Dutch.

Student smiling

Within SLC we proudly offer 10 languages from beginners' level. Our experience has taught us that that learning a new language is like embarking on a new journey: it is exciting and a touch unpredictable. Lottie Armett chose to study Dutch alongside her Post A-level German course. This is her report of the first semester of her journey.

"Starting Dutch from scratch has been such an exciting experience for me so far. Being an English native and having studied German at school, looking at the language from the surface, I first thought that Dutch would be like the quirky child if German and English were to have a baby!!! But after getting started, I have learnt very quickly, that although it does share many similar features with German and English, Dutch is actually a precious gem of its own!

I would say that one of the best things so far about starting Dutch at beginners’ level at Sheffield has been the tutors. We are so lucky to have such friendly and enthusiastic staff in Dutch who make every lecture, seminar and conversation class enjoyable and informative.

I look forward to all of my Dutch sessions hugely, as I know that whether I’m leaving through the door of the lecture theatre or through the ‘Leave’ button on the video call, I will always be leaving with a smile on my face!

Lottie Armett

BA Modern Languages and Cultures (German and Dutch)

Let me give you an example! A personal highlight for me from the semester so far has been a class on the legendary Dutch figure of Sinterklaas. We learnt about the annual tradition, in which children in the Netherlands and Belgium eagerly await a visit on 5th of December from Sinterklaas and his companion Piet, who bring with them festive treats of oranges, pepernoten, speculaas, chocolate letters and presents. During this particular class, our lecturer entered the room, pretending to be Sinterklaas, as we sung loudly, ‘Sinterklaas, kapoentje, Gooi wat in mijn schoentje, Gooi wat in mijn laarsje, Dank u Sinterklaasje!’ Interspersed with grammar and vocabulary, the insights into Dutch culture that are provided by native speakers mean that classes such as these are always entertaining and educational!

Sint Nicolas with student - Dutch tradition
Sinterklaas on a visit to Sheffield in 2019

One thing I certainly didn’t expect when learning Dutch was to be spitting phlegm across my uni room whilst attempting to pronounce words such as ‘graag’, ‘gegeten’ and ‘eigelijk’! The pronunciation in Dutch is so wonderfully unique and has provided much entertainment for my flatmates and me while I have been practising it!

I know it sounds cheesy and cliché, but I have fallen in love with Dutch and I can’t wait to get to know it better!"

More about studying Dutch at Sheffield

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