A little appreciation post for my work and my students
When I was young, I was so fascinated by languages. My parents are from Bosnia, so I grew up bilingual in The Netherlands. I always had two words for one object, two different grammar rules in my head and construction a sentence wasn’t always easy. As a kid, you learn quickly, you adapt, especially when others around you don’t understand you, you eventually realize not everyone speaks 2 languages. I remember thinking about this many times and whenever a new situation would occur, I’d be curious to see how the communication would go. I knew I wanted to study languages, but there’s many different ways to do so. You can study the science behind a language, you can become a teacher in an elementary school or a middle school, or you can become a translator for example. I picked the latter, because I was curious to know more about how a language is used correctly, why certain things seem easy to translate but are regionally dependent. The language of a country is a reflection of their culture, this is the biggest lesson I’ve learned. After 4 years of studying Dutch and English intensively on a high level and French for 2 years, I discovered that only translating wouldn’t be enough for me. I’m a social person, I love being around people and working with them.
We came to the Netherlands as refugees in 1994, so during my studies, when I heard about volunteering and teaching Dutch to refugees in the summer, I knew I wanted to do that. Fast-forward to now, I never really stopped. I graduated in 2016 and have a bachelors degree in Translations, but I started working as a freelance Dutch teacher. The Netherlands is international and multi-cultural, there’s a big group of people who migrate to The Netherlands for various reasons: love, work, studies, a better life, war… But most of my students now are expats or people doing their studies in The Netherlands. And it IS the best job in the world. Let me tell you why.
First of all, a kind of selfish reason, I learn so much about new cultures and the Dutch language in general. Students have a way of pointing out funny things to me, or coincidental similarities I’ve never noticed before. Words like ‘geweldig’ (amazing) and geweldadig’ (violent) look so much alike, but couldn’t be more opposite in meaning.
Secondly, there’s a special bond that’s created between the student and me after months or even years of Dutch lessons. I genuinely care about them and their needs. I love hearing about their life and weekends. And I know it’s the other way around too, they are so kind to me as well. They shower me with gifts throughout the year, from sweets from their country to my favorite kind of tea. I’m very fortunate.
Thirdly, how amazing is it to watch someone grow thanks to your help? This is a special kind of fulfillment I’ve never experienced in another field aside from teaching. I try to be as encouraging as I can, not everyone learns at the same pace. There’s a delicate balance between feeling horrible that you’re not progressing, and seeing the little improvements, I try to point those out to them.
Lastly, when they tell me that my way of explaining a certain grammar point for example has now finally helped them to understand it, just blows my mind. I know everyone has their own teaching style, but hearing this feedback is a real validation. Also hearing the classes are fun and enjoyable is very important to me. Because I LOVE my work, I adore my students and the freedom that comes with being a freelance private teacher. I hope the classes are positive enough for you to look forward to them, I know for me they are.
Wishing you happy holidays – fijne feestdagen – and a happy New Year – een gelukkig Nieuwjaar.
P.s. Hope all of my students will get their Christmas present in time this year, sent them last weekend. Fingers crossed!