Friday, November 5, 2010

Ik spreek een beetje Nederlands

That's right. I speak a little bit of Dutch. I've come to terms with the fact that I will be studying Dutch for many years to come and perhaps the rest of my life. I must say, I have much more sympathy for people moving from another country who don't speak the language. It's been a humbling experience. Even the smallest tasks like buying groceries or ordering a cup of coffee can be a challenge. On top of that, we live in Limburg and the native Limburg dialect can be very different from Dutch. Fun for me! Luckily, the Dutch speakers that I encounter most often i.e. Jaap's friends and family, do not speak dialect.

So, to begin... I enrolled in a course at a small language school in early October, which meets once a week. I've met some nice Americans in that class who live in our neighborhood. Added bonus! And this week I started my second course at the university. It meets twice a week for six weeks and moves at a pretty fast pace. I'm enjoying both classes and gradually things are improving. I think I've already surpassed my knowledge of German from when I was living in Vienna, which doesn't necessarily say much.

I've had to develop a tough skin because of my teachers' directness. (The Dutch are known for this). As it was so kindly pointed out to me, "Americans are not familiar with learning languages." Thanks. I already knew that, but thank you for being brutally honest. That's the Dutch way! I'm learning not to take moments like these personal. But in my defense, let's not group Americans all together okay? It's a big country!

In addition to the two courses, I meet with Jaap's mom, Trees, once a week for another lesson. She's a retired teacher and knows how to teach beginning Dutch students and understands the learning process. It has been a huge help. Getting three different types of instruction is giving me a well-rounded introduction to Dutch. Not to mention my previous instructor Mari from NYC. She was my Dutch teacher last year while I was still living in New York and was a tremendous help. Thanks Mari! But if it wasn't for Jaap, I'd be completely lost! He helps me fill out all my paperwork, practices with me each day, and corrects me when I'm wrong. I'm lucky to have a Dutch partner.

But even when you are a native speaker things are lost in translation all the time. Just the other day I told my father (in English) that Jaap and I went for a walk and had a slice of pie at a café. He thought we ate pizza. Hmmm? That's a New Yorker for you. Love you Pop!

These pictures have nothing to do with learning Dutch, but why not enjoy some more views of beautiful Maastricht. :)

Sint Janskerk
Sint Servaas Basiliek

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