O texto abaixo é uma versão em inglês de um artigo, da nossa amiga Gabi, que será publicado durante a semana no EE. Aguardem!
I've always seen people on the EE forum asking about exchange programs in countries such as England, Scotland, United States and so on , but a couple of weeks ago one of the readers posted in the forum asking about what studying in the Netherlands would be like. So, just out of curiosity,I ask you now - have you ever thought about learning English going to a place where English is not the first official language?
Well, I have! My first time abroad and actually my first time on an aircraft too, was exactly when I went to the Netherlands. I had no other intention but to learn English and get to travel round Europe as much as I could.
I must say I fairly travelled and I did manage to improve my English. The problem was that despite all of my efforts to become fluent in English I still felt that my progression was not as good as I expected it would be,which turned me down and I inevitably felt a bit frustrated by that
when I returned to Brazil.
Thinking about that I'd like to point out some conclusions I drew after my year in the Netherlands, in my point of view, of course.
1- The Netherlands is said to be a country where everyone or almost everyone speaks English – true!
Just twice in a year I'd come across to people who didn't speak English.
2-The Netherlands is said to be a country where everyone or almost everyone speaks English well– generally speaking, yes,
A very good quality education in state schools is the key.
What I'd like to add is that I've experienced an utterly different way of studying English in London from the one I had in the Netherlands and living in an English speaking country gives you the chance of being in contact to local native English speakers ,with whom you can learn a wider range of up-to-date expressions,sayings and usages of English.
3- You'll become fluent in English simply because you are abroad – false.
The most exposed you are to the language, the better for you to learn,but despite what most people think, a trip abroad or an exchange program doesn't make miracles. It depends on the efforts you put on your studies.
4- Everything is in Dutch,so give up the idea that you will be surrounded by English just because you're abroad.Signs on the streets, people chatting away on buses or trains,shops, books, radio, newspapers, TV, instructions on packaging and the simplest things you could think of, are in Dutch.
Only when I came back to Brazil did I realise how isolated from the society I'd been without not even notice and I felt somewhat relieved for being integrated again.
But don't panic. If you happen to have the chance to go to the Netherlands , embrace the idea. It's a beautiful country, with tons of places to go and things to do. When I had the opportunity to go I did while the going was good, even thoughafter my return to Brazil I decided to go to England to boost my English I don't regret for not even a second for having chosing the Netherlands over England before.
In the Netherland English becomes your second language since Dutch language has nothing to do with Portuguese, therefore, English turns out to be the only way you may find to get by on your daily basis and it's great to make you feel more confident about your speaking skills.