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 – Week 9

It was a chill day in an Amsterdam Spring when George (that’s me) decided she should pick up the tale of partaking in a language course. She is not entirely sure why she is writing in the third person, but there you go.

Week 6 Prague – I wasn’t in lessons, but I had gotten the heads up on what we would be studying in class! Chapter 6, which was all around “modal verbs”. Though I took my books with me to Prague, I actually didn’t open them. *hangs head in shame*

Week 7 Playing catch up – I stayed home when Himself took our guests sight-seeing and attempted to make sense of the chapter while running decidedly low on sleep.

I got to class to discover that the class had had a different teacher for the last week as Trix had come down with pneumonia and would be away a while. So it seemed I hadn’t missed anything after all, as they were studying what I had been set, which makes me wonder what they had been doing while I was away. The answer I got was “plurals”, and the revision work involved supermarket shopping.

I began coughing on that Tuesday night, but kept going and was in attendance the Thursday night too. The class chapter on Thursday involved ordering a restaurant.

8 last week – The next week I was too sick to go on the Tuesday, but we moved on to the next chapter in the book which was clothes shopping and clothing nouns. So many words to remember!!!

We ended Thursday evening discussing real estate and housing. It was still with the substitute teacher too. This enabled us to have long activities surrounding prepositions. (in, on, out, beside, in front, etc)

9 this week – Trix was back! She was still not 100% poor thing, but on the mend, and not contagious anymore! We celebrated by doing revision on everything we’d done so far. It was clearly obvious after this revision, that I rely far too heavily on my books being open in front of me. Also, which sections needed work! So off I went on my merry way with a little bit of focus and worked hard at my skills until the next lesson.

The most recent lesson was more revision. Lots of word games, and I had my Nederlands to Engels translation dictionary out, and we were on a roll! Sometimes opposites are hard! But before the lesson was over we worked on when to use “geen”, and when to use “niet”. “Ik sprek geen Russisch” (I speak no Russian), and “Ik help hem niet” (I help him not).

I think I have it. Only time will tell. And practice. Lots, and lots of practice.

Homework is more revision. Only the last four chapters though. Should be a gemakkelijk karweitje! (Piece of cake!)

Language Course – Week 5

The astute amongst you will notice that I didn’t provide an update for week 4. I made it to the first lesson that week, practiced my 150 most common verbs along with everyone else, we told stories about Willem, and then I put my back out so missed the second lesson of the week. After checking, I only needed to cover chapter four. Even with the missing lesson I didn’t seem to have any problems picking up with the rest of the class when I got there this week in time for …

Week 5, lesson 9. I knew I should have looked up how to say “sore back” as an explanation of my absence! For future reference it’s “zere rug”, and now I know. And you do too.

We began with question structure. Getting my words in the correct order for Dutch is more problematic than I hoped, but I’ll get there! I just need to stop thinking in English.

There was then some role-playing, and the ever important phrase “Kunt u langzamer spreken? Ik leer Nederlands.” (“Can you speak slower? I’m leaning Dutch.”)

After spending time running through various standard responses to frequently asked questions (“I’m off tomorrow” could be answered with “that’s nice” or “sounds enjoyable” … you get the idea) we then all stood up and mingled at the front of the classroom, pretending that we were at a cocktail party. It was remarkably amusing given how little we could converse. But then, how much depth does one go into at those things anyway?

One of the questions on our wee palm cheat sheets was “Hoe oud ben je?” (“How old are you?”) which I had mentioned to the teacher was a bit unfair (not to mention depressing) given that I’m the oldest in the class! So I have my own response to that now! “”Met de leeftijd komt de schoonheid.”(“With the age comes the beauty.”)

For homework we needed to Google (at .nl) all the various public holidays for the Nederlands. We also need to remember while doing this that days of the week and names of the months are not capitalised in Dutch unless they are “important”. For instance; vrijdag (Friday) isn’t capitalised, maar (but) Goed Vrijdag (Good Friday) is.

I had noticed this on some winkel (shop) doors where they posted their hours, but had written it off in my head as purely a design decision. Seems I was mistaken!

In lesson 10 the nitty got grittier. There is so much information to absorb in each lesson, and with each lesson building on the last, there’s ever more to revise and add to our knowledge base. First we continued working on sentence structure. We learnt that though one sentence can be said 4 ways and all will be correct, we learnt the Dutch way.

Then we moved on to learning the rules for pluralisation. Just to screw with my (and your) English mind, they do use apostrophes for plurals of words ending in vowels that aren’t “e”.

Finally we learned new sentences. We were creating sentences about hobbies, and whether we liked or didn’t like them. As with most of our classes, this ended up being quite loud and boisterous as we all spoke at the same time while trying to listen to our fellow students mangle the language.

As always, a wonderful week, and a LOT of homework for the weekend ahead! I think my brain may leak out my ears!

Language Course – Week 2

A new week arrived with a new focus. The teacher has been speaking more English during class now (though not much, just enough to assist) and by building on what we’ve learnt so far I can now read and fill in a basic form with my personal details. Which lead to a hilarious conversation about my name. Again.

Ghoti, though amusing and erudite in English, is far less so once you have to explain it, (over and over and over again) to people whose first language isn’t English. The irregularities in English spelling are even more pointedly absurd and frustrating to anyone who’s been forced to learn English as a second language, and already thinks the spelling is insane. Some of the humour is lost when after an explanation people just look at you like you’re bonkers. Oh well. I still like it!

We spent more time revising our vowel pronunciation, and the emphasis structure of the language. For short vowel sounds you repeat “Amsterdam heeft achtentachtig pachtige grachten.” (“Amsterdam has eighty eight beautiful canals.”) For long vowel sounds you repeat “Het Spaanse graan heeft de orkaan doorstaan.” (“The Spanish grain has the hurricane withstood.”)

As an interesting side note, that second one is used in the Nederlands translation of My Fair Lady as a stand in for “The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain”, and fits the music perfectly! Now if I could just get that song out of my head …

In theory, by the end of that third lesson I was now able to correctly pronounce any written Dutch word. In practice this isn’t quite true, as I was proving towards the end of the class. I have some revision work to do. But I’m improving!

Homework was all about familierealties names and ties. Which I’m sure will make my schoonzus (sister-in-law) very happy! It also brought us neatly into the next lesson where we discussed all sorts of things like colours, days of the week, and months of the year.

With just this information we have actually been able to converse with each other! Not with much depth, but we have! And it was wonderful!

Now to build on that!