Starting a conversation with the Dutch isn’t too hard. You can answer their question of “Hoe gaat het?” with “Het gaat goed, dank je/u.” However, many of my students tell me that they fear the fast pace of speaking.
It is tempting to switch to English right after the short greeting ritual. As a tutor I often hear about this frustrating situation and fully understand that you want to give up. Many Dutch people speak so fast and sometimes without any articulation. But, please, don’t give up and try to memorise a few lines that can help you in any of your conversations. They at least show your serious attempt to use Dutch in practice and they will certainly calm down the Dutch enthusiastic way of replying:
Kunt u iets langzamer spreken?
Ehm .. ik begrijp het niet.
Oef, … dat gaat iets te snel.
Kun je dat herhalen alsjeblieft?
Ehm, ik snap het niet.
If the sentences above are too hard, raise your hands in the air, show that you are hopelessly lost and say: