I have been having issues with my Dutch language progress since I stopped going to courses, and I reached the conclusion that the best way to fix that was to work on my skills. Short of actually conversing with people, I went for the next best option; I joined the library!

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The Amsterdam Central Library opened in July 2007, and occupies a staggering 28,000 m2, making it the largest public library in Europe. Would you like to know more?

Language Course 2 – Week 9 & 10

Week 9
The time to cram had returned! We were at the end of another semester, staring down the barrel of a test to prove we know what we’ve been taught. I feel like I have a long way to go to prove myself too!

We settled in to chapter seven of the textbook, which revolves around a Doctors visit. We learnt the names for various body parts, and the difference in questioning depending on whether or not the problem relates to an internal or external woe. This segued into a conversation about character traits, and we spent some time going over and over discussing what traits we had more or less of.

I’m fairly sure at the end of the class when the teacher asked if we’d done our homework, and all of us pretty much admitted that we either hadn’t, or had half done it … She was understandably unimpressed. But we moved on and had it done for the next lesson! Which began with …

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Language Course 2 – Week 8

Week eight? How did it get to be week eight already?! Well, I guess it is, and I’ll just have to deal with it! So much information is being crammed into each lesson, but as we all realised, next week is our last full week of lessons!

So we dove straight in to working on our limited conversation skills. The premise being that when you speak to people and they tell you something, you have to respond. If our responses are reflexive, then it gives our brains time to come up with further conversation! In English these phrases would be “How nice!” or “That’s interesting.” Or “Oh damn!” In Dutch, all these begin with “wat”, so we also have to get used to “wat” not being a question. Harder than you’d think!

We built on our past tenses and then practiced them by asking each other questions about what we had done over the weekend. There is still a long way to go for me with remembering all the words that I have at my disposal in order to answer more fully. Along with past tenses came the practicing of which sentences were “heb” (have) and which were “zijn” (are). Just to make this interesting, some words can be both a “heb” and a “zijn” word (though not in the same sentence), depending on whether you use the words “via”, “langs”, or “naar” within the sentence.

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Language Course 2 – Week 7

Another massive week was underway before I realised it! It’s the strangest thing that you just seem to blink and it is the beginning of another week of class and you’re wondering if you should have done your homework. (Of course I always do my homework!) Monday always seems to be a big lesson too, stuffed with as much information as possible, allowing it to ferment for a day, then you can come back on Wednesday and practice everything which should be sitting in your brain.

We jumped right in to the fray with answering questions for “how frequently” and “have you ever”. Keeping in mind that the Dutch would never simply answer with “I have” (Ik heb), you have to answer with “I do that lots” or “I do that never”. Of course the answers will differ depending on whether you are answering in the present tense or past tense (remember het perfectum) “I have never …”

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Language Course 2 – Week 6

The astute in the audience will notice that I missed reporting on a couple of weeks in there. I was at Week 4 for the first lesson, but not the second when my back gave out, and it remained out for Week 5. Briefly, that one lesson I was at in Week 4 involved when you put an “e” at the end of verbs. The short version is that it depends on where it’s placed in the sentence (before or after the noun), whether “een” is used in prefix, and whether it is a “de” or het” word.

We moved on to listening to a grocery shopping scenario. More and more we’ve been listening to audio to acclimatise us to how fast people speak. It’s tough when you can’t ask a recording to slow down! But you’d be surprised how much you can pick up too! The goal is apparently to catch 60% of a conversation. This should be enough to respond to. So we did some “fill-in-the-blanks”, and then repeated the scripts in groups.

Then we moved on to playing “grocery shopping” under the auspices of needing to put on a dinner party for ten people. Half the class were shopping, and the other half being the shop assistants. It was fun, and loud! My partner and I were shopping for paella ingredients!

There was some work on responses, and a hand out which we went through in pairs where we were informed that “starting your response with “Dat …” creates cohesion with your conversation partner, making your Dutch sound very natural.” Something else I need to work on, obviously! Would you like to know more?