Speed dating as a tool for language learning!

Luckily I am finally getting through to some people and starting to socialise properly, hanging out for hours or even almost an entire day, speaking just in Dutch. But for the most part, when I meet people I tend to have a similar first introduction conversation over and over again. This is a terrible way to make progress to be able to discuss many different topics required to be fluent in a language. While I continue to meet people that I can converse more deeply with, I decided to tackle the problem in a unique different way; I need my brief first conversations which are easy to find to be unique so I'm discussing something different and improving my language skills in different ways.

So I had a crazy idea: Speed dating is a relatively new concept, apparently started by Jewish communities in the late 90s to help shy people pair-off. I had only ever seen it on some American TV shows, and not really thought much about it. I wasn't interested in actually finding a date though. I just wanted to get some Dutch practice because they had been notoriously hard to hang out with as friends! You generally don't meet someone up this week for coffee or lunch; you have to propose a time long in advance and understand the Dutch need to be organised; something which contrasts with my preference for spontaneity.

Also, Dutch people have their set network of friends and it's turning out to be incredibly hard to break into that.

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If the majority of my conversations with the Dutch are going to be brief, then I decided to think of a better way to take advantage of these conversations. Speed dating just hit me as the obvious way to test it out, and I found a place that organises it and had a session for year olds last night!


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I got my flatmate to pay for me, and signed up for what I considered simply an excellent and unique opportunity to practice Dutch with 25 people! To make it more interesting though, I gave myself the challenge that each of my mini dates lasting only minutes must involve talking about something completely different. And of course they must be in Dutch. I can't just rattle off the same introduction and ask the same questions or I won't learn anything.

I actually had little interest in finding the girl of my dreams I'm leaving in 3 weeks! I don't have a bucket list and don't like the idea of listing things months or years in advance to tick off in my life , but speed dating was certainly on my spontaneous f uck-it why not list! So, I'll actually tell you exactly what I remember talking about last night. So I arrived, asked the hotel receptionist where the speed-dating was going down and found the hostess explaining how it works.

She checked my name against the bookings and gave me my booklet of girls' names. As you can imagine, she was certainly not speaking slowly for the benefit of foreigners! But I managed to understand most of it. She pointed out the tables, shown in the photo above, and said that the girls will stay in the same place they are assigned and each time the bell rings, the guys will move up a table. People were still arriving so she said to wait in the bar and get a complimentary drink.

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I got myself an O. I actually had a good 20 minute conversation with them before the event even started! I told them why I was in Amsterdam, mentioned my travels, and the blog, got to know them too a bit and then the hostess called us all in. Only… there was a problem!

Even though the speed-dating hadn't really begun yet, I had talked about my blog and travels, so I wasn't allowed to discuss that any more for the rest of the night!


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  8. The only thing I could repeat were basic things like my name, the fact that I've been in Amsterdam a month, and a casual mention that I'm a writer, without necessarily expanding on it. For more interesting conversations I needed to find common ground, or talk more about her obviously. I sat down to my assigned table, said that my name was Benny and she said she couldn't see me on her sheet.

    Someone trying to get a date would have found it to be a bust, but I found it to be excellent travel vocabulary practice! Such strange first openers perhaps weren't helping my Ja-quota, but I had nothing to lose! She told me about how hard it is meeting a man in Amsterdam, and I said that it's hard meeting people in general in this country, told her about my own difficulties in doing so and said I was seriously thinking of befriending all the canal ducks in the city instead. She got a great laugh out of that and asked me the same question.

    That's much cheaper than the going rate for private conversation lessons! Fast 2 Speed 4.

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    25 Speed Dates in Dutch - Fluent in 3 months - Language Hacking and Travel Tips

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