Speaking Dutch: It Ain’t No Thing When You’re 4.

by farrah on February 12, 2014 · 19 comments

Last night we had another swim lesson. It went well, besides for C being extremely jealous- and needed a quick dinner afterwards. Our favorite Chinese restaurant in town does a ton of take out business- but what we love about it (besides the excellent food and nice service) is that we always have the entire dining room to ourselves. This, is a blessing as I know we don’t bother anyone else while there. The great thing about last night, that made this mama beam, was the compliment we received upon leaving. And it was all about B speaking Dutch.


As usual, he was running around chatting. He jabbers constantly wherever we go and will talk to anyone who listens. He gave the waitress an earful, just like he did a few weeks ago at the airport talking to the security guard. Most of the time, I have to physically remove him and say, ‘Ok, ok, say goodbye! We have to go now!’ because he just won’t stop talking. Always in Dutch.

To offer a glimpse, I sat him down this morning just to give me a sample to share. It’s not a professional interview by any means and in the midst of morning chaos, but you get the idea:

So at the restaurant we’re putting on our coats. He was talking away and the waitress turned to me and said ‘His Dutch is flawless! You’d think he was a little Dutch boy if you didn’t know!’ And I laughed because it’s true. On the short drive home it got me thinking- it really is. I’m stunned at how much he has learned in the past year. Their minds, my friends- are ripe and then some for propencity at picking up a second language.

I tried then to get a glimpse into school- but morninng drop off is so crazy (which I’m sure you can imagine) but here he is in his element:

As a parent, you know your kids sometimes say things that might make you cringe, or give TMI, or what have you and you can step in and correct or clarify the conversation. I, can never do this because I don’t know what he’s saying. Yesterday at school he was telling a parent about the last time he threw up and I only caught on when the parent looked at me and laughed. These are the reasons (amongst others obviously) that I have got to get on the learning train. Mostly I thought how funny it is when we’re out and about and he’s talking to someone and they turn to me and in my nasal, American/midwestern accent respond. I get amused looks- every time.

I love that he has been able to do this. It gives me so much hope for our future and the boys and a feeling in my gut that this IS the right move for us, and all that we are opening for them. Dutch is a very, very difficult language- and I struggle. But I think that the freedom children have- of being unafraid of making a mistake, or looking silly, combined with the brains they have to learn, it’s natural for them. What a world this would be if we could all understand each other, eh?

We might not understand all of the idiosyncracies of the Dutch, but at least my kids can speak their language. I can only imagine how hard it must be for their little minds to switch gears- since at home it’s English. Our tv shows for them are in Dutch- and I love that. And I have to say, the way they all say ‘Peppa Pig‘ like in the first video, is priceless. The twins are coming right along as well, but being 3- they are still developing their own language. I think I am in serious, serious trouble if I don’t get some lessons in soon. Besides, I don’t want to be that old lady who doesn’t speak the same language as her kids.

Do you have a bilingual child? Have you ever considered teaching them another language?

*I should note that when B was around 2 or 3 I had him evaluated at a speech therapist because I was worried he wasn’t talking enough. HAHAHAHAHA! Oh if I only knew then…

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ace February 12, 2014 at 11:14 am

I love your little disclaimer at the end! If only you could have known what would be coming down the road!
B’s Dutch language skills have impressed me since he started kleuterschool – you’ve got good reason to be proud =)


2 farrah February 12, 2014 at 11:44 am

Thanks! You happen to be one of his favorite chatting partners and he probably wishes I was more like ‘Miss A’ 🙂


3 Ace February 13, 2014 at 10:55 am

Ha, that’s sweet. Maybe it’s good that he doesn’t know I only understand about 1/4 of what he says… =)


4 Caitlyn February 12, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Wow that is brilliant! He speaks better Dutch than me! I think you’re right when it comes to kids being unafraid of making mistakes and just going with it – I had a friend of a friend laugh at my Dutch early on and that really set me back. I need to learn how to shrug it off!


5 farrah February 13, 2014 at 7:56 am

Oh no! That makes me sad- I’m sure they didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, but yikes. I get smiles when I try, but I also think they are pleased I’m even making an effort- you know? I don’t think I can master his accent though. Funny- someone on Twitter pointed out they could hear the North Brabant accent. I was shocked!


6 Chamisa February 12, 2014 at 12:50 pm

He is such a little charmer! I think the same things about our boys – this is the perfect time to have an expat adventure. They don’t care if they say something wrong or make a mistake or sound ridiculous, and their little minds are such sponges at this age. Now, if only some of that could rub off on me! 🙂


7 farrah February 13, 2014 at 7:56 am

Seriously! And all of those doubts I had before we left– poof! Gone. This was absolutely the right thing for us to do.


8 Julia February 12, 2014 at 1:55 pm

That is so awesome and it’s so great that he already knows 2 languages. I really would like my son to learn spanish, even though I have a really difficult time with languages I think it’s easiest when you are in the enviornment.


9 farrah February 13, 2014 at 7:58 am

Completely agree. I had an internal battle with International School vs. traditional Dutch- since the Inter’l school was in English. I am so glad I listened to my gut on that one. I am very pro-Spanish. It’s the language I took as a kid and college student, and think it’s a good one to know. How early do they start them in the States these days?


10 andrea February 12, 2014 at 2:13 pm

That is so awesome!


11 farrah February 13, 2014 at 7:58 am

Thanks Andrea! Proud of my little dude.


12 Leighann February 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm

We don’t have a bilingual child…yet. We are sending our daughter to a french school so we had better start learning a little bit or we won’t know what she’s saying either.


13 farrah February 13, 2014 at 7:58 am

Oh yay! Good for you! And yep. You need to get on that stat. Or, you’ll be in my boat 🙂


14 Ellen Heetveld February 12, 2014 at 10:22 pm

And I hear a little Brabants accent too! He is very very cute!
Groetje, Ellen


15 farrah February 13, 2014 at 7:59 am

You’re the second person to say that- and it makes me so proud. It’s one thing to know the words, but to actually say them correctly blows me away. Happy to have a N. Brabant accent in there 🙂


16 reeta @houseofanais February 13, 2014 at 11:06 am

What a lovely post – I can relate to the feeling so well. Our children speak four languages and sometimes it gets a bit crazy, but I think it’s so worth it. Last night I got told off by my 4year-old about pronouncing wrongly an English word when I was reading her a story in England (not my home language), and that sort of made me realize that no matter what I was thinking our kids first language had become English despite us not talking it to them at home in English! It was both a sad and a joyful moment.


17 marret February 13, 2014 at 12:45 pm

haha!! so funny!! he speaks it really well!! so cute!!!
and i totally understand how it feels when they will say something and you don’t know what exactly..my spanish is not good enough, as i can hear my son saying lots of things…And at an age that i rrrreally want to know what..:) almost 10….


18 Agata February 13, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Wow he is amazing! You should be really proud!


19 SJ @ Chasing the Donkey March 3, 2014 at 12:04 am

What a clever kid. It amazes me STILL how their minds work, and how much they absorb.


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