What is the most effective way to learn a language? So many people have different answers to this question. However, we define the most effective way to learn a language as ‘the method that achieves the most results with the least amount of time spent’. What if you could combine your language learning with doing activities you love, so you would not lose any time learning the language? Would that not be the most effective way to learn? Using our revolutionary method of language learning you can learn a language without spending long hours in boring classrooms or studying at home. Instead, you learn, while doing the things you love!
How does it work?
The community is the core of the Dutch Language Cafe.
First, you build a basis in the language, by learning the most common phrases. Then, you start applying this
We believe there are 4 steps to becoming fluent in a language fast and effectively:
Step 1 – Learn the most common words and phrases.
Step 2 – Practice speaking in a safe setting.
Step 3 – Use more Dutch in daily life.
Step 4 – Perfect your Dutch by eliminating mistakes
Learning a language while doing high intrinsic value activities
What are high intrinsic value activities?
High intrinsic value activities are activities that hold value to you, even if you leave out the language learning part. Examples of high intrinsic value activities are:
● Playing board games (values: having fun playing the game, learning new games, fun with other
● Cooking together (values: learning new recipes, having a tasty dinner, learning new cultures)
● Playing tennis (values: improving tennis skills, improving health, fun playing the game)
Examples of low intrinsic value activities are:
● A class where the teacher explains grammar (value: grammar)
● Studying vocabulary at home (value: vocabulary)
● Private teaching where the teacher corrects your mistakes (values: making less mistakes)
To find out whether an activity has high or low intrinsic value, mentally ask yourself the following
Would a native speaker enjoy this activity?
If the answer is yes, it’s likely a high intrinsic value activity. If the answer is no, it’s likely a low intrinsic
Why learn Dutch through high intrinsic value activities?
Learning Dutch through high intrinsic value activities has three main advantages over traditional
● It saves time. The most effective way of learning a language is a way that achieves the most
results while using the least of your personal time. If you combine language learning with
activities that you would do anyway (like sports, hobbies, socializing), you don’t lose precious
personal time to study the language. Compare that to the traditional way of learning a language
where you basically sacrifice time to achieve a desired result.
● It is effective. By learning a language while doing high intrinsic value activities, you get language
knowledge specifically about areas that are important to you.
● It is fun! It is just way more fun and enjoyable to learn a language through high intrinsic value
activities, compared to memorizing vocabulary, studying grammar and so on.
How do you learn Dutch while doing high intrinsic value activities?
It sounds great, learning a language just by playing board games, cooking, playing tennis, and so on. But
is it actually possible to learn a language this way? It is, because these situations present you with an
opportunity to get comprehensible input. More about this in the next section!
Learning a language by getting comprehensible input
What is comprehensible input?
Getting comprehensible input means getting input in the target language that you can understand,
ideally in a level just a bit above your current level. For example, having a conversation in Dutch,
listening to the radio, watching a movie are all examples of comprehensible input.
How do you learn a language by getting comprehensible input?
We believe you can learn a language just by getting lots of comprehensible input. By getting input your
brain will pick up patterns and after a while the language will just come natural to you. The belief that
you can learn a language this way is well described (see for example
https://www.sk.com.br/sk-krash-english.html). For an analysis of how the DLC method relates to the
scientific studies, see separate document (under development).
But what about grammar?
We believe that you don’t need to consciously learn all the grammar rules of the language. In fact, it can
be detrimental to you. By learning all the rules you become more conscious of mistakes and will be more
hesitant to speak. And after a while you will pick up on the grammar rules unconsciously anyway. For
example, if you see ‘the red apple’ and ‘the blue ocean’ a lot, you will after a while naturally learn that
the adjective should be before the noun, instead of the other way around, without explicitly learning
Think about your own native language. How many grammar rules do you still know? If something is
wrong, it will just feel wrong, without knowing why.
DLC METHOD: Learning a language by getting comprehensible input
during high intrinsic value activities
How to get comprehensible input in high intrinsic value situations?
By now you might believe that you can learn a language by getting comprehensible input, and that
learning a language while doing high intrinsic value activities is desirable. But how do you combine the
two? How do you get the right kind of input?
The problem is that in daily life people might speak too fast or in a too difficult way for you to
understand. So, you might not understand anything or switch to English . This way you will not learn
anything. The DLC method consist of three things that help you get comprehensible input in high
intrinsic value situations:
- An environment to practice. We create a place where everybody speaks slowly and clearly, is
ready to explain, and is helpful. It is a low-stress environment, a safe space. This helps with
- Skills training. We developed a set of skills and techniques that help you get comprehensible
input out of high intrinsic value situations. For example, techniques such as controlling the
speed of a conversation, using body language while communicating, being creative, not caring
about mistakes, having a positive energy, all help you speak in the real world. Same goes for
skills on how to speak Dutch at work, with your spouse, in daily life, or what books to read, what
videos to watch, and so on.
- Coaching to provide individualized guidance and feedback, keep motivated, set goals, know
what to do when.
Important skills when speaking
We believe that someone’s ability to speak a language has little to do with how much grammar and
vocabulary they know. Some people can know lots of grammar and vocabulary but are barely able to
speak in real conversations, and some people know very little grammar and vocabulary but can speak
with confidence. We believe that to be able to speak a language you need skills that aren’t related to the
specific language itself, such as:
● Controlling conversation
● Being creative with the language
● Having a positive body language
● Being confident
● Willing to try & fail
● Not caring about errors
The community is an ideal space to practice getting comprehensible input in high intrinsic value
activities. It helps because:
● Everybody speaks Dutch (forces you to speak Dutch as well)
● Everybody is willing to help, speak slow and so on.
● It’s a safe, familiar environment.
● The activities are chosen in such a way that they promote speaking but also have intrinsic value
Summary: The DLC Method is a set of techniques and an environment with which you can learn a
language by getting comprehensible input while doing high intrinsic value activities.
Path to fluency
We believe the best way to learn a language is the following path:
● Get a basis in the language (the most common words and sentences). This is the only part where
some traditional learning methods such as memorization help.
● As soon as possible, start speaking the language while doing interesting activities (such as when
playing games, cooking, playing tennis, and so on).
● While speaking, speak only Dutch. Control the conversation to make it understandable to you.
Be creative with the language if you don’t know how to say something.
● When you are conversationally fluent, increase your language level by getting more input by
starting to read books, listen to podcasts, watch movies, send texts in Dutch, and so on.
● Expand your input by also using Dutch at work, at home, while with friends, and so on.
● Only when you’re at a high level, start perfecting your language by focusing on accents,
mistakes, and so on.
The DLC helps you along this path through the community, training and coaching.
Why speak Dutch only and avoid English?
It is essential to speak only Dutch and avoid the use of English. There are a few reasons for this:
● Using English is contagious: as soon as you use English, other people will start using it too
instead of Dutch, which reduces the amount of comprehensible input that you get.
● Your brain will become lazy and will learn that English is the easy way out. By speaking Dutch
only, your brains will switch to Dutch-mode, which will make learning go a lot faster.