I recently read a blog post from a woman who calls herself Bitterballenbruid, she is from the UK, married a Dutch guy and now writes about her life here. Her posts are often funny, insightful and free of the usual clichés – in spite of her nickname that is. Bitterballen at a wedding? Really? Talk about low budget!- Anyway, she is studying Dutch and writes about how difficult it sometimes is. So hard she sometimes has to cry. One day, at a party, after a couple of glasses of wine she gathers the courage to speak Dutch with a friend, with whom she had always hung out in English.
Oops, the language instructor sees several warning signs already. Yakking away in a foreign language after a couple of glass is fine if you do it with total strangers, or a vacation flirt. But with someone you already know? You might end up saying things you really didn’t mean to, or s/he he might be a lot less pleasant in his native language than in English. Trust me, I have made that mistake many, many times.
And yes, her experience turned out exactly as bad as I expected. The Dutch “friend” turns out to be a huge *sshole, and everybody starts correcting her tiniest mistakes. Ouch!
Talking in groups is really, really hard anyway. People talk faster, use slang, interrupt each other….At parties native speakers seems to get a kind of weird group personality, as if they are testing you if you are good enough to be with their group. No, you won’t be, so just let them talk English and practice your Dutch with your instructor. Or friends from your course or Face book. Or the cleaning lady, or cashier or your one night stand or whatever. Just don’t ruin friendships over it, OK? Really, not worth it!