Due to my back problems I missed the first day of my Dutch language course, but I attended tonight and I haven’t really missed to much thankfully.
The course is completely and solely in Dutch, although the teacher is very good at explaining things simply and using visuals to help understand. Although I cannot understand all of it, I did find it very helpful in actually practising listening to Dutch and being forced to try and speak it. There were 6 of us, and it turned out only the girl next to me spoke English………which was a huge relief and we kinda buddied up. She has also only been in The Netherlands a short time, only 4 months……..so we’re kinda in the same boat.
We got told off for speaking in English though, cuz during the actual course we are ONLY allowed to speak Dutch. I can see the sense in that, but luckily during the break we’re allowed to gabber on. The people in my group are all kinda around my level, so that makes it easier to learn in that environment.
One thing I did find, is that the level we were practising was VERY easy, but it’s the theory that is easy for me, not the actual listening and speaking. I have been studying some Dutch via text, so that’s how I know the theory, but I haven’t actually used it much in practise. The environment she teaches us is great, very supportive, even if we make mistakes, and she encourages us to keep trying (“probeer”!). Without that I would find it very difficult, and I apologise to the Dutchies, but they do tend to be a bit critical……..which is why I haven’t practised speaking the language yet! People always say that the Dutch appreciate any attempt foreigners make at attempting to speak the language, but I have to be honest and say that I haven’t experienced that, and that instead I’ve experienced criticism of my mistakes and laughing at my accent. ok ok, I admit I haven’t had MANY experiences, cuz I haven’t attempted to speak the language as much as I should……..but that’s cuz when you’re new to learning a language you tend to be a bit more sensitive (especially when you’re from Australia where we have very little exposure to foreign languages).
Anyway, doing the course tonight has got me thinking more in Dutch. There’s a lot of repetition, which I struggle to keep focused on (my brain tends to wander easily), but repetition is the only way the language can really sink in, so I have to try and stick with it. Because my family is Dutch I’ve always wanted to learn the language, so I really need to try and focus to achieve my lifelong dream!