This little three-letter word showed up on Social Media about six years ago. LOL? First, I thought they meant the Dutch word lol, meaning having fun. But it showed up in English messages as well. When I finally asked, they told me what it was all about: Laughing out Loud. So I missed the joke, didn’t I?

Not so long ago, my daughters used the word YOLO at the end of every sentence and then started laughing. I didn’t have a clue what was so funny. But now I know: You Only Live Once.

Modern life, especially on Social Media, can be pretty dreadful because there is a big chance that you’re missing out on the fun. By the way, there is an abbreviation for that too: FOMO fear of missing out. No kidding!

But let’s get serious because we’re going to talk about learning. And learning is also known as the opposite of laughing. Learning is about focus, concentration, hard work, and no fun. And when you’re in my class, I can add boring as well, because I’m a grammar driven teacher. Chaos is my middle name therefore I love the structure that grammar gives me.

In my class, we go from simple sentences to complex ones. I’ll tell you everything about articles, adjective, verbs and word order. And when you are completely overwhelmed, I bombard you with the one million exceptions to the rules. And this is not only two hours a week. Oh, no, at home you must learn new words by heart. Sheer hell for everyone over eighteen.

So, great fun for the expat who enters my class! As if working in a tiny little country far away from family and friends isn’t bad enough. So why do they do it? Because they don’t want to miss out. We are all part of this huge group suffering from FOMO. And that is the reason we all want to learn a language, because we all want to be part of everything, to understand what is going on, to share information and – very important – have a good laugh.

I particularly enjoy the last one. It’s easy to relate to someone if you have fun. A joke takes tension out of the air and a good laugh makes life easier. Therefore, I always spice up my lessons with an enormous amount of LOL. And it works; students like to come to my lessons despite the boring grammar and even the shyest people who are afraid to say something, lose their embarrassment when we all laugh while pronouncing these unpronounceable words which the Dutch language is full of. In my class, you learn by having fun and in between I shuffle the boring grammar in.

What about the important rule that you’re not supposed to laugh when someone is making a mistake? I know, you’re not supposed to, but we do in my class. How can you not laugh pronouncing Scheveningen? How can you not laugh about our one million exceptions to the grammar rules and our strange habits (if you want to get birthday presents, then always add your name to the birthday calendar that you can find in the tiniest room in the house). My classes are full of LBL: Learning By Laughing, and I love it!

Astrid Harrewijn / Taleninstituut Nederland

More information about Astrid Harrewijn you can find on 

Here at TalenInstituut Nederland (The Dutch Language Institute) we understand the needs that companies face as well as the fears individual learners feel. This is why we offer flexible, fully customised Business language courses (including French and Dutch) to businesses and individuals. Through a process of interviews and meetings we establish the unique needs and competence of our clients and design each and every course around those. To find out more about our Business Language courses, visit our website and ask us for a quote:

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Foto: Graffiti on a remaining piece of the Berlin Wall by Jeroen Docter.