Top critical review
13 people found this helpful
Not for a beginner
on 18 November 2010
I'd be interested to know how many beginners have managed to learn Dutch using this course. Having already learned passable French, German, Spanish, and Japanese using the grammatical method, I recently started Dutch using a similar approach in the "Hugo Dutch in Three Months" course.
Seeing the Routledge book in my local library I've now had it by me as a companion to Hugo, but find its approach way inferior to the clear and simple Hugo approach. Unless you have a high IQ and a fantastic memory, you'll find this book hard going since, unlike Hugo, it throws masses of new Dutch at you in a single chapter.
As others here admit, you need an existing knowledge of Dutch to get on with this book. Yet the preface professes to be a course which "starts from scratch" and is "on a par with level B2 of the Common European framework for languages", with a "distinctive approach asking how is language used in particular contexts and why" etc. etc.
Instead of pursuing such lofty goals, a language book needs to ground the student in basics, instead of throwing a mass of new Dutch at the student with each chapter. This may suit the intellectually gifted, but not me, and I do have a gift for languages.
I found the absence of a simple structure, and excessive colloquialism overwhelming, turning with relief to the simplicity & clarity of the Hugo text, which explores a new Dutch structure with each chapter, elaborates on it with a conversational passage & adds several clear and simple DRILLS in order to literally drill it into you.
The drill approach ( "boring", according to its detractors )really does the job well, as I found with Eleanor Harz Jordan's "Beginning Japanese" which set me up well for two years residency in Japan.
The use of repetition & drills of basic elements, is how great tennis players, pianists etc, perfect their art, and it works in language learning also, despite the alternative view that we adults should be "thrown into" in a language like children who are born into the language.
Simplicity and an emphasis on basics have enabled me to pick up four foreign languages, so I'll stick to what works for me - "Hugo Dutch In Three Months" - and use Routledge for picking up useful colloquialisms.
EDIT: Another very useful beginners' text is "Teach Yourself Complete Dutch" which is somewhat unique in that it is less strictly grammatical and more conversational than Hugo Dutch, but strongly emphasises simplicity and repetition too. Very strong, simple approach. Impressive.
Once I've mastered these two, I'll turn to Routledge, as it has a great deal to offer, but only after the basics have been mastered.