German professor teaches Dutch in practice
By Kyra Broshuis
BREDEVOORT – The man is 84 years old, professor of business economics and trained in Spanish and pedagogy and is now learning his seventh language. For Klaus Rother from Rhede, ‘lifelong learning’ is something that is embedded in his DNA. He reads Latin and also speaks German, Spanish, English, French and Portuguese. Dutch becomes language number 7, and he learns the language in practice.
Rother was born in Silesia, Poland and now lives in Rheden, Germany and works at a museum there. He also volunteers at Dorcas in Aalten and at Koppelkerk in Bredevoort. “I want to learn the Dutch language and it works best for me in practice; by having conversations with the Dutch. I do that in Dorcas and here in Koppelkerk.” Rother started his career in business. “What I learned there in international trade, I passed on to my students in various countries in Latin America. I also eventually got my doctorate in Venezuela .” In addition to Latin America, Rother worked and studied at the universities of Münster, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia and Chile. Rother is married and has 2 children. “They both live in Spain. I also have 2 grandchildren and even a great grandchild. Thanks to modern technology, I can see them on the screen every day.”
Koppelkerk in Bredevoort is an organization for art and culture. “And language comes under culture,” says Rother. “When I’m in the Netherlands, I want to speak Dutch. Yes, it is actually a different approach than most Germans have. I don’t think it’s good that people who live close to the border don’t learn the second language. In the Netherlands, they speak more German than the other way around, but this is decreasing. English is simply the language of the young and therefore the language of the future.” Rother wrote a number of articles for the Koppelkrant about his experiences in Holland. The topics range from food culture to communication and language and from education to the Peace of Munster.
We share a story
In the articles, Rother examines the problems from both sides of the border. “The relationship between the Netherlands and Germany is very interesting; we share a large part of history. We had 1 language, the Germanic language. The other languages, including Dutch, came later. The first publications in the Dutch language came around 1200.” Rother does not notice much of the hostility of the Dutch towards the Germans. “No, I personally do not notice that people still go back to the war. Fortunately, it no longer plays a major role. I have experienced that in France, but not here in the Netherlands.” Rother likes the looser manners in the Netherlands, he says. “I’m fine with saying you and you, it’s much more common in the Netherlands than in Germany. The Dutch language is not easy by the way. Take the simple word ‘must’. I once told colleagues at Dorcas ‘you should really come to the museum’. I now understand that this is then seen as an obligation. In German it means more of a suggestion. So there are more difficult differences. The Dutch language also has many long words and words that exist with 1 but also with 2 vowels and then has a different meaning. I honestly expected it to be easier. The last language I learned was Portuguese, it took me about a year. I’ve been working with the Dutch language for 4 years now.”
On a daily basis, Rother also sees other things that strike him in the Netherlands. For example, cycling without a helmet. “It is incomprehensible to me. The Netherlands has good cycle paths, so the problem may not be so acute, but it really is better to have protection on. By the way, the crossing system in the Netherlands is fantastic! Many countries can learn from this. And I understand that the Dutch come to Germany for the bratwurst; the Dutch sausages are not so tasty”, laughs Rother.
You can read more about Rother’s experiences with Holland in his article ‘View on Dutch culture’.