Q: Growing up as a bilingual child in New Zealand. What was that like?
A: Now I really like it. Firstly, I can easily chat with all my family in the Netherlands. And yes, they know English too but it is more fun to just speak their own language. And also, it also helped me to learn French. I found that very easy as well.
Q: What influence do other Dutch people in NZ have on the fact that you speak Dutch? Or are there other Dutch people with whom you speak Dutch sometimes?
A: Yes indeed! Two of my best friends are Dutch and with one of them I always speak Dutch and with one I always speak English. That’s really very strange! The one I speak most Dutch to, she had come here when she was 12. But she also knew English well. But for us… The first time we met was when she had just been here for a few months and then I spoke Dutch to her because her English was not that good and I also felt sorry for her because she had trouble with the change. And then I did not see her for a long time and then I saw her again in the first year of university. And because we spoke Dutch the first time around we automatically spoke Dutch to each other again. And when someone else is with us then we really have to speak English otherwise it would be a bit antisocial. And that feels very strange [speaking English to her]. But the other friend, that one I had met at secondary school together with a lot of other girls and therefore we spoke English to each other. Yes, now we still speak English to each other.
Q: And how often do you go to The Netherlands?
A: We go… Yes first we went every four years. And the past six years we went every three years back. And I went by myself without my father or mother. Just on my own, I went back to the Netherlands.
Q: And no problem at all to function immediately in Dutch?
A: No, no. My cousins laugh sometimes because I say something wrong and don’t use the right word. But on the whole things are fine. I have no problems.
Q: And you don’t mind at all that you make a mistake now and then, you just continue to speak Dutch?
A: Yes. Oh certainly! Certainly. It would not stop me. I find it annoying and I immediately ask: “Oh, what should I have said?” or “How do you say that in Dutch?” I also sometimes ask my parents. Because I want to know. I really want to learn. But. It does not stop me because I prefer to talk to them in Dutch rather than in English.
Q: Why do you think your parents raised you bilingually?
A: Eh. Well I think… For them it was not really a conscious decision because they spoke Dutch to each other naturally. And Dutch to us, simply because it was the easiest for them. And yes we… because they have their own business, a farm really, so we were always just at home and we did not have that much contact with other people to speak English with. They also thought, I think, that it would be nice if we could… yes talk to my granny and my family in The Netherlands. So they would like that very much too, I think. Yes… They also knew that you can easily learn two languages as a child, you know. It’s not nearly that easy when you are older and have to learn a language. So they just thought, they started speaking Dutch to each other, and we then learned it as a matter of course and they thought that was great.
Q: One more point. Do you regret anything? In growing up bilingually?
A: I regret a bit that I did not keep it up better when I was younger. Especially between the ages of 6 to 11. Because I notice now that although I speak reasonably fluent Dutch, I still always use the same expressions and yes I a bit… I don’t know how to say this –limited- sometimes.
And that is the age when you learn those sorts of things and I could have if I wanted to because my parents still spoke Dutch to me. And I did have the books and the videos. But at that time I just, well, dropped it a bit. So I regret that somewhat.