Language Course 2 – Week 3

It has been a week of revelations. A week of feeling that for every step forward I take two steps back. Though overall, it all still seems to be moving forward. Progress is still progress, no matter how small.

I may have arrived a touch late to my first lesson and walked in as negatives were being discussed. As with so many things, this involves much practice and repetition. Mostly until the “right way” feels “normal.” As with all good Dutch language structure, there are rules to fall back on. Before an adjective, proposition, or infinitive; but after the time/place adverb, definite object, finite verb, or at the end of a sentence.

We moved on through some of the different Festivals and Celebrations that the Netherlands celebrates, and compared them with some from our own countries. Then we discussed some possible phrases and responses to good wishes, and words of encouragement. I have a print out for this, and really need to tack it to the wall by the front door!

On the first sunny day we’d had in … well, it feels like forever … I was corrected on one of my tweets by a friend. I am remarkably glad she not only knew what I had meant, but was able to give me the correct phrasing. Which of course once I read it not only made sense of the thought I had been trying to convey, but also helped cement in my head separable verbs and how they are used. It’s nice when you feel the puzzle piece fall into place. Let’s hope this carries across into daily use!

Lesson two involved hurting my brain again.

We were back to sentence structure. Now, I know I need help with this, and I know the only answer it to practice, practice, practice (oefening, oefening, oefening …) I also know that I can’t go though life starting my sentences with “I” (Delicious, tasty, irony). Swapping parts of the sentence around makes for a much more interesting sentence and conversation. These sentences feel much more comfortable when I say them now than they did during the first course.

Where I fell to pieces (in my head) was with modal verbs (Shall, Want, Can, May, Must) and the structures of negative responses to their questions. In conversation, you would never say “must not” (unless you’re reprimanding a two year old) you say “Niet hoeven te.” Except in a sentence when those words aren’t actually said in that order, and may have other words scattered in between …

As it turns out though there’s a reason I like my teacher so much, and I now have flash cards to practice with at home this weekend.

I’m also the odd one out with how often I’d objectively use “shall” when phrasing a question. Granted I’m aware that on a daily basis I probably wouldn’t use it all that often, but when asked how a question should be phrased, I am more inclined to be more formal than most (I guess) as a way of limiting offense when I don’t have a context for where or who a question is being asked of … I’m not sure if it’s English, or if it’s me.

I am also coming to the realisation (late, because I’m slow) that I rely heavily on my text book, phrase book, and Google translate. So much so that I am better at understanding written Nederlands than spoken at the moment. Mostly because I guess I have to time to analyze the words, think about what they mean and then reconstruct them in my head in English. It also helps that words can be read slower than they are spoken! This isn’t really all that helpful, particularly on the street, and wont help me with any tests, but at least I guess it’s sinking in. I understand more of what’s going on around me than I can respond to, and that’s frustrating. I need to listen to more Dutch, and use more than the smattering I do each day to order and buy things. This will involve me seeking out people to chat with. Helpfully I have friends who are willing to meet me over tea and cake and to help correct me when I stuff up!

I think I also need to start reading my dictionary for fun.

All I can do is keep practicing though, right?

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