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.
I can happily report for this week that no information has oozed out of my brain yet for two distinct reasons; First, because we’re still focusing on revision from course one. Second, because it was a short week and therefore we only had one lesson.
I’m really enjoying the longer lesson time with this second course! I feel like I’m getting so much more out of every lesson! I guess too though, it’s because we’re able to go at a faster speed through topics we’ve already covered and therefore just have to dredge the grey matter to retrieve the basics before adding new information to it.
We’re coming to the end, it’s nearly all over for this semester. Given that this was the last full lesson, there was a lot to pack in. It’s also nearly Kongininnedag! So we commenced practicing our familial relations using none other than the Royal family.
We watched the Queens’ abdication speech, and then answered questions on it. Her Majesty speaks at a good, measured pace, which is perfect for learners! It’s really helpful!
We each have our own copy of the sixteen verse, Dutch National Anthem; Wilhelmus van Nassouwe . (Note that the first letter of each verse spells Willem Van Nassov. It’s important if you’re Dutch.)
There was one last look at the text book, to dash our way over chapter eleven, and learn responses and reactions. You see, one of the things that gives you away as a foreigner is when people tell you information of news you tend to just go “Oh!” So we figured out what some acceptable responses would be, and then practiced them on each other!
For the second half of the lesson we played an ingenious board game which had us all asking questions of each other and revised everything we’d learnt so far.
With the next lesson came “The Test”.
It was a remarkably easy test. Which makes the fact that I only got 84% even more mortifying. But I shall recover, and now I know what I need to work on.
We ended the test by writing (simplistic) stories about people in photos. It was a nice way to round it out, come down from exam nerves, and see how far we’d all come.
After break we played another board game that was designed to test our skills and revise our knowledge. It was all very relaxed, and we laughed and joked around quite a bit. I think my favourite stuff-up for the evening was literally translated as “Are you without sauce?”
We relaxed, we laughed, I think we realised that we aren’t really going to see each other again. We went from a class of 12 down to 3 people.
But at the end of it all, I have a basis for further learning, and I have a nice clean stiff white piece of card with my name on it that proclaims that I have completed Nederlands 1!
Not really an auspicious start to the week when your head cold prevents you from going to class. I feel like I’m so far behind! So I rectified this by applying myself to my books and listening diligently to my CDs on Wednesday in the hopes that by Thursday, some of it would have stuck.
Then I looked at my calendar and realised that there were only two lessons left for this semester. Revision time! How has this come up so fast? I knew I must hit the books in order to pass on move up to the next course!
I now have pages and pages full of notes. I just hope when I go back to them, I know what they mean and I can read them!
Thursday’s lesson. More new information. With a test in just 4 days time to assess how much we’d absorbed in the course, we were learning new information. I’m sure you can picture how much this filled me with joy, and not apprehension at all!
We began with “Hoe zie je eruit?” (How do you look?) and “Hoe ben je?” (How are you?) then moving on in difficulty to “Hoe voel je je?” (How do you feel?) Where for the first time those of us that speak English were using a reflexive pronoun. Yeah baby! “Ik voel me ontspannen en blij!” (I’m relaxed and happy!)
There were games, which I’m sure were meant to be cementing things in our heads, but most of us were “moe” (tired) and “zenuwachtig” (nervous) about the coming “toestje” (small quiz – not a test!).
So now I’m trying to cram. I have 4 days. Wish me “success” (luck)!
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!