‘You really get to know a country, once you speak its language’
18 february 2021
Katie Johnson is a true international. Hailing from Minnesota, she has made a career in Germany for the past five years and found a new challenge at Bosch Energy and Building Solutions in mid-2020. Since then she has lived in the Netherlands and is building a life here. This also includes speaking the language.
How did it go?
“Well!” My first teacher sensed exactly what I needed. She always managed to challenge me and keep me interested. In the training sessions that followed, what I found interesting was always taken into account within the learning process. Trainers look beyond just the course material and we often just had chats about everyday situations or about a podcast that we had listened to beforehand. That variety is very nice."
When did you first see the benefits of your Dutch language skills?
"At a certain point I had to give a presentation in Dutch. Afterwards I thought to myself, wow I almost did the whole presentation in Dutch! That was a great moment and of course that motivates you even more to develop your skills further.”
You learned German in your previous job. Does that help with learning Dutch?
"Sure. Not only because many words are similar but also because I know what works and what doesn't. That’s why I try and immerse myself in the language in all kinds of ways, whether it be reading, watching TV, listening to the radio or podcasts or watching YouTube. It helps if you find the topics interesting of course. I have also learned not to be afraid of making mistakes. I just get on with it now."
Dutch is very important for your work. How important is it for your private life?
"I am not a passenger in my life and always strive for better things. I want to build a life here in the Netherlands but in order to get to know a country you have to speak the language. Only then are you able to understand the culture better and the interaction with others flows more smoothly, which in turn means you can build relationships more easily."
Do you have any tips for new students?
"Make sure you keep having fun in order to stay motivated. And be patient. At the beginning it’s tough and you have to get through it but after that it just keeps getting better."
What is your favorite Dutch word or phrase?
“Pindakaas” (peanut butter).