Learning to speak a new language can be quite a challenge. This may be due to a number of reasons, several of which we shall examine during the course of this article. You may even discover that although the level at which you speak Afrikaans has improved, you seem to have ‘hit the wall’ (an expression borrowed from running). You now find yourself in a quandary as to how to improve your understanding and fluency.

There is no doubt that you will have to zone in on certain aspects of the Afrikaans language, such as its intonation and pronunciation. However, you also have to bear cognisance of the way the language is used or spoken on an everyday basis and the kind of vocabulary employed.

We hope that, following this guide, you will help you learn how to speak Afrikaans rapidly (vinnig).

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Pay Attention to Your Pronunciation to Speak Afrikaans Well

If you’re learning to speak Afrikaans, you will no doubt be exposed to its grammatical conventions, including sentence structure and its three (yes, only three) tenses. However, from listening to other languages, you will realise that a great deal of attention has to be given to the way words are pronounced or, rather, enunciated. Afrikaans speaking people have a very interesting and distictive way of expressing themselves which many find almost musical.

You will know from the outset that knowing how to speak Afrikaans correctly is really dependent, to a great degree, on how well you pronounce the words. Proficiency in the language, in the spoken form, is going to depend on how much time you spend practising to say particular words … and here it is important to remember that ‘perfect’ practice makes perfect.

Correct pronunciation will ensure that you convey exactly what you wish to say and that your message is understood by your audience.

One of the best ways in which to advance and improve the way you speak Afrikaans, including pronouncing Afrikaans words correctly, is to work in close co-operation of a proficient native speaker. This must, however, be someone who can also steer you away from slang, but be knowledgeable in its use, and who can guide you around social faux pas - things not to say in genteel company. Working closely with a guide such as this, you will soon learn that the first step towards speaking Afrikaans correctly is listening. You will have to listen with great care to imitate spoken Afrikaans properly. A really good tutor will explain to you exactly where in the mouth a particularly difficult sound is formed and will act as a sounding board for you when you have to employ the more guttural sounds in the language, like the heavily rolled “r”. Just compare aloud the words 'roll' (English) and 'rol' (Afrikaans). You’ll feel the difference!

Language can also take on specific meaning in different parts of the world or in different languages. Afrikaans is actually quite specific in terms of the use of words like verskoon my (excuse me) and jammer (sorry). These two words are not used interchangeably as happens in English, when someone wishes to be pardoned. You only use jammer when you say, “Jammer om te pla” (I’m sorry to bother you) and so, if ever it is used as a single word (Jammer!), the rest of the statement has been omitted, possibly by a lazy speaker.

How to Improve Your Pronunciation

woman using phone and wearing headphones
Listen to Afrikaans radio and podcasts to improve your Afrikaans pronunciation.- Source: Pexels

When learning to speak Afrikaans, and focussing on your pronunciation, it is very important to:

  • Listen very carefully to what local people say and the way in which they say it.
  • Try to copy the way people speak (practise at home).
  • Try to identify areas where you are experiencing difficulties and spend extra time on those aspects in a focussed way, on a regular, on-going basis.

Additionally, you have to pay careful attention to where words are emphasised as this will colour your speech in a particular way. You have to, thus, hone your listening skills, practise at home and then test your interpretation on your favourite ‘victim’.

Since you don’t have the luxury of time on your side, as opposed to a native speaker, you must appreciate that you will make numerous mistakes, as did a little child, when it was first introduced to the language. Stay positive and realise the growth will be incremental. Don’t become discouraged, as you will have lots of support from your mentor, fellow-learners and native Afrikaans-speakers.

Key Skills for Learning to Speak Afrikaans With Confidence

A great way to learn a new language is to pick up new words and to start building your Afrikaans vocabulary. Initially, you might want to know what the word lekker means and, once you know its multiple uses, you will want to learn more of this interesting language. You will soon be past the point where you learn Afrikaans simple to pass a test or oral exam. You’ll also be empowering yourself to become comfortable in the presence of native speakers and to speak Afrikaans fluently to them.

A first-language speaker, as stated earlier, is an indispensable ally and resource. Spend as much time as possible with them as you gain confidence in expressing yourself in a language which is strange to you and, like German, is very guttural. So, you have to become comfortable with hearing yourself speak in this way, something to which your ears will have to become acquainted. If you were preparing for an oral test, you would have to focus on how interpret and understand spoken Afrikaans, expressing yourself and communicating your ideas in the language.

Through listening, your ears will become attuned to Afrikaans sounds. These will be then be the sounds that you use when you speak. Your next step is then to use the words and sounds that you have heard repeating them so that you become accustomed to how your 'Afrikaans voice' sounds. It will be very different, guaranteed!

Learn about Afrikaans public speaking tips here.

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Mariena
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Mariena
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Trisha
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Maryke
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Jana
5
5 (11 review/s)
Jana
R300
/h
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1st lesson free!
Ariane
4.7
4.7 (13 review/s)
Ariane
R200
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Mariena
5
5 (9 review/s)
Mariena
R190
/h
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1st lesson free!
Trisha
5
5 (6 review/s)
Trisha
R50
/h
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1st lesson free!
Lizemari
5
5 (4 review/s)
Lizemari
R250
/h
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Monet
Monet
R152
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1st lesson free!
Maryke
5
5 (2 review/s)
Maryke
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Practise Afrikaans Orally and Ace Any Test

Besides simply wanting to learn to speak Afrikaans for personal growth and fluency in the language, you might be preparing for a test which could be quite daunting.

The anxiety that is caused by the fact that you’re studying for an oral test in Afrikaans, is sometimes the hardest thing to overcome. It’s more often the mindset, that we approach the whole idea with, that may need to change. If you are able to calm yourself and, possibly, use your tutor to help you prepare, you may enter the exam room with confidence. A calm approach will always be beneficial, as you are better able to take control of your own nervous state as well as organise your thinking processes better. All in all, you’ll enter the exam locale with confidence!

The reality, however, remains that you will still be taking a test. Therefore, it is important that you structure your learning so that the upcoming test will be less daunting. A great way to prepare is connect your learning to topics which are likely to appear in the test.

Insider Information to Assist You In Any Oral Exam

  • Know what form the Afrikaans oral test will take.
  • Ensure that you are confident and primed to answer all manner of questions.
  • Do not try to memorise anything – simply continue practising using Afrikaans daily.
  • Speak daily on topics which interest you.
  • Be brief and answer questions succinctly within the allocated time.
  • Be self-assured and believe that you have what it takes (the skills) to pass.
  • Answer questions in a creative way. Use good language, as that is what is being assessed, language and its use, not content per se.
  • Full sentences will reflect the grasp you have of the language.
  • Try to relax and just do your best as your being anxious may inhibit your ability to express yourself well.
  • The key ingredient is hard work. This involves lots and lots of practice, engaging with native Afrikaans speakers and never giving up.

While oral exams at higher levels, such as at a business school or at university level, may be a bit more complex, these tips can still be followed, although you will need to be able to speak about your topic of study in a more detailed way.

Afrikaans Oral Test Tips

two students studying together outside
Practise speaking Afrikaans with a native Afrikaans speaker. - Source: Pexels

Besides working with a native Afrikaans speaker, it is fundamentally important to establish an Afrikaans working group. This support group is where you can practise speaking Afrikaans, as well as discuss various topics raised in your classes.

Listening and speaking are key to your preparation for an oral exam. You can, of course, read to grow your vocabulary in Afrikaans, but it would be beneficial if you could bolster that by watching movies which have Afrikaans sub-titles. Later on, you should rewatch the movie or episode, in order for you to rehearse your pitch, inflection or cadence and, of course, pronunciation. Listening to and singing along to Afrikaans songs will also be a wonderful avenue to follow.

How to Pass an Afrikaans Job Interview

Another great benefit of preparing yourself for an Afrikaans oral exam is that it will open up a world of new and exciting prospects, once you have been able polish your skills in Afrikaans to show prociency in the use of the language.

It doesn’t matter whether Afrikaans is your first, second or third language, a job interview can be quite a daunting experience for many. What you need to do is to simply practise and focus on sharing your strengths and short-comings. You will also spend time highlighting what makes you an ideal candiadate and outline how you view your professional future. Practise at home so that you become comfortable in what you want to say and maybe use your native language tutor/ guide as a sounding board.

You should now be in a pretty good position to ace that interview. If, however, you can’t get the butterflies to fly around in formation, contact a Superprof tutor. One of these great professionals will soon have your soaring high like kinders van die wind (Afrikaans song). Best of luck!

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Trevor

Career teacher turned writer. Passionate about family, running, and the great outdoors.