Although I am an engineer by education, I have a passion for languages. At school I learned 3 foreign languages: German, English and French. And then I learned 2 more languages completely by myself: Russian and Spanish.
After university (in 2002) I ended up in Russia where I helped Dutch companies set up their businesses. Because they understood the need of understanding the local language, I set up a program for Dutch people to learn Russian – intensive language courses with lodging in St. Petersburg (a language center that still exists today with almost two thousand clients in 15 years).
In 2014 I acquired learndutch.org (set up in 1997 by Chris Sonnemans, former education director of Teleac – the Dutch television company that produced courses for national TV).
My mission: to teach my native language Dutch to as much foreigners as possible, in a fun and efficient way… using all my experiences of running a language center and learning foreign languages myself.
Main ingredients for learning a language
1. Self study
As a self-taught person, I know it is possible to learn a lot by yourself (although most language teachers argue with that)… as long as the materials are well structured, especially: vocabulary and grammar. Learning a language does not need to be expensive. You can learn a lot from books or online resources. Discipline is actually more important than money. But if the materials are presented in a fun way, then there is even not that much of discipline needed. I believe that video is more fun than a (boring) book, so that is the basis of this website:
well structured materials to learn dutch efficiently, presented in a fun way that makes you want to keep on studying!
Although you can grow the theoretical basis by yourself with selfstudy, you need others to apply what you’ve learned. Speak Dutch with your Dutch friends, relatives and colleagues as much as possible. Although it is difficult to switch to Dutch from the language you’re used to communicate, just do it! Watch Dutch television. Listen to Dutch radio. To be in the country where the language is spoken is a major factor in learning the language fast. This can be an issue if you live anywhere else.
3. A teacher
I proved I could learn to speak Russian fluently, completely without a teacher (only self study and practice). Nevertheless, I regret that on some moments I didn’t take real classes. I would have learned the language better, and I would have avoided the mistakes that I still make today. I believe a that interactive classes with a good teacher, contribute to a better understanding, better speaking and listening skills, a faster learning process, and it avoids learning things in a wrong way.
I really believe in the ‘live + study together‘ approach: to create an environment where course participants are 24 hours per day busy with the language (not only in class!). And solving the issues for those who learn Dutch while living abroad… who don’t have enough practice, who need housing during the course, and who want to be 100% sure that the course will take place and not be rescheduled (like regular language schools usually do when they have not enough people in a group), because of their travel arrangements.
I believe in sharing
I create a lot of content for free. The majority of my time I devote to this. You can find these materials here on the website and on my youtube channel. I managed to make this a sustainable project (I keep on creating more materials): not being dependend on government subsidies or my spare time.
This is my full time job. Therefore, there is a business model behind this website to generate revenues: the premium dutch grammar courses #dutchgrammar-1 and #dutchgrammar 2. These video lessons are not on youtube, you can access them – together with the exercises, handouts and other related materials, after you buy a license. I believe (and with me a lot of followers) that these courses have a very reasonable price (€39 + VAT) in relation to what you learn from them.
Because of the revenues of the premium courses, I can hire the expertise of the best Dutch language teachers and I can spend my time on creating more materials to learn Dutch, including free materials.
I’m thankful to my audience
At the moment I have almost 50,000 followers on Facebook and Youtube, more than 2500 visitors per day on the website and about 12,000 video views daily on youtube. I’m thankful to everyone for watching my videos and to the people who buy my courses. But I’m also thankful to those who support me in another way… by liking and sharing the videos, by providing feedback and by helping in making the content better (such as proofreading, providing subtitles and graphics).
Thanks to your help in voting Bab.la announced my Youtube channel the nr. 1 social media language resource!
You give me the feeling that this is the right thing to do… and so, I am motivated to come up with the best I can!
I would like to name some people who had a significant contribution to this page:
– Dutch language teacher Kirsten de Gelder with whom I created #dutchgrammar
– Dutch language teacher Mirjam van Beijsterveldt with whom I created the pronunciation videos
– Tom Faes with whom I created ‘studio studeo’
– Michele Robinson for proofreading a lot of my online lessons
– Kata Szep for providing the graphics of ‘250 dutch proverbs’
Have fun learning Dutch!
Bart de Pau