New commercial in the Netherlands encourages foreigners to learn Dutch in order to communicate - Het begint met taal (the beginning with language)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Here's a new commercial to air in the Netherlands with four foreigners failing to communicate in their own tongues, followed by an exhortation to learn Dutch in order to communicate in the country:

The article here where I found the commercial has a few reactions to the commercial. I think the commercial is fine myself and the Netherlands should be working hard like this to make Dutch the most important means of communication for those living in the country, but this approach would be a good one as well:

Abir Saras: "I remember how my first year here someone in a shop tried to tell me something and I started crying for not understanding, something I found hugely embarrassing. The spot should emphasise these sort of feelings instead of showing how the Dutch view foreigners."
That approach usually has a somewhat more effective impact. Perhaps an interview with someone successful that started out knowing not a word of Dutch on his or her first year(s) in the country and how much things improved after becoming fluent in the language, especially the difference between just getting by with English alone compared to being able to speak Dutch (this is crucial). Nevertheless, the commercial above is still an okay approach.

The website it directs people to is a bit of a problem though, as it doesn't take into account the fact that sites need to appeal to the laziest of lazy people. Here's the site.

You'll notice that (at least not yet) at the moment there's no link to a Dutch course on the site, just a few pages of information on why speaking Dutch is important. What it needs is a course like Deutsch - Warum Nicht? for German, where within a minute of accessing the site you're kicking back with a course on PDF, extremely detailed and with a spoken mp3 for each lesson, in some twenty or so languages. If you're from Iran, no problem. It's in Persian. And Bulgarian. And Swahili, and a ton of others. That's what I'd like to see for Dutch.


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