Tips for a bilingual relationship

In this blog I’m going to talk about a very important topic: 

love and language.

Quite often in our school we see people from all over the world, coming to the Netherlands for love.

I’m not a love professor, far from that. I’m just here to tell you what I’ve heard about people being in a bilingual relationship.

  1. Learn each other’s language

Don’t stick with your own language, try to understand and learn the language and culture of your partner.

There are a lot of different kinds of bilingual relationships. There are couples where  one speaks the mother tongue of the other and the other does not speak the language of the first. This is often the case in a relationship in which one person’s mother tongue is one of the big languages, like English.

In this case, the English speaker is advised to learn the language of the partner. Not only is this good to keep the balance in a relationship. It is of course also important if you want to communicate with the friends and family of your partner. 

A different kind of bilingual relationship is where both speak a language which isn’t the mother tongue of either. In these relationships the partners have to find a lingua Franca. This is often the case with foreigners who are not from English speaking countries and Dutch people. Because the Dutch are pretty good in English, it not a problem for them to communicate in it. And Dutch is not typically a language that people learn in school.

So what is important here is to make an effort!

By the way, there is also a third possibility. That is a relationship in which both speak their own language and there is no common language. But I don’t think those relationships would last very long…

  1. Learn the language of the country you are in

Let’s take a look at the example of a foreigner coming to the Netherlands and speaking English with their partner. Not only is it good to learn Dutch to communicate with the friends and family of your partner but you also don’t want to be dependent on your partner.

In other words, you don’t want your partner to always be the translator.

  1. Learning a language is important, but keep communicating.

Of course, learning a language is important. But keep in mind that communicating is also very important. And for that, sometimes you have to use the lingua franca or your mother tongue. In some situations you want to be precise and let the other know exactly what you think. In that case, let go of learning the language and say what you need to say.

  1. Help each other and have fun with it

You can see learning a new language is a big step, a great challenge or something to look forward to. All of those could be true. But here there’s one big advantage: you have a great teacher. Someone that is around you all the time. You can help, support and motivate each other.

And together you can listen to music and watch movies. A new language opens up a new world. So don’t be afraid and try to explore this much as possible.

What do you think?

Like I said, I’m not a scientist in this area. And I’m very curious to hear if you have any experience in this field. Let me know in the comments if you have a bilingual relationship and what you think about this subject.

If you want to know more about Dutch and Dutch love sentences, check out my lesson.

Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School