New experiences (Or: Dutch lesson 1 of 14)

Last night was my first Dutch lesson at the Volsuniversiteit. This is the A2 level.

My night started out with the bus I needed to take being 7 minutes late. This is actually not a long time considering – but buses run every 15 or 20 minutes so it was a lot more noticeable. Interestingly, I still arrived at the school at the same time I should have been there. Not sure how to explain that one, except that we did skip a few stops along the way.

Thankfully my class was in the same place that my oral test was in, so I only had to find the classroom. I knew that there would be a board with a list of classes and their rooms right inside the front entrance. Since the class was starting this week, it was one of the classes that had information on its own piece of paper in large font. (Of course the directions to get to the classroom were in Dutch using vocabulary I didn’t understand yet, though I wasn’t the only person needing help finding it.)

The room was set up in traditional classroom format – all desks facing the professor in the front of the room. We’re going to sit like that for one more class, and then in week three we will change to more of a circle format. Of course, this might be slightly difficult considering this class has 19 or 20 students (!) so it is a rather large class. And I think about 7 or 8 students arrived after the class period started, but we’ll hopefully just chalk that up to not knowing where the classroom was – hopefully they won’t be late next week.

The lesson started with the usual stuff that one might expect – introduce yourself, say where you came from, what you are currently doing for a job, and etc. I think I am the only American in the class, though possibly there was one other person but I do not think so. There are students from India, Spain, France, Mexico, England, and other countries. Some of the people have been there for a year and a half, two years, five years, and one person had been there nine years. I believe that there was one person who had been there shorter than I – about 4 weeks to my 7 weeks.

The section that we looked at today was chapter 7A – talking about body parts and various pains they can feel (ik voel me niet lekker! I don’t feel good), reflexive verbs (voelen is reflexive, so you have to add the “me” to the previous sentence), and a bit on the present perfect. Most of it was review for me, though I did learn a few things – like how present perfect verbs which can take an object use hebben (to have).

Early on, one of the students asked the professor to please speak English when discussing grammar. Previously the professor said she would not speak much English at all because her previous A2 class had begged her not to do so (and I can see the wisdom). Though I do understand using English to explain grammar, to some extent. She did say she would only do it for the next few weeks, at least. But the class was in about 90% Dutch, which I mostly understand. Mostly! There were still definitely too many moments of confusion for me.

Interestingly, it’s not a straight 14 week course like I thought. We have three weeks off in the middle – February 26 for Spring vacation, April 2 for Easter, and April 30 for the very last Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day). The following year it switches to April 27 for Koningsdag (King’s Day) for the new King’s birthday.

text conversation about Dutch coffee

Notice the ‘spatie’ where the space bar is. That is my subtle clue that I have switched over to the Dutch language dictionary, which is very important to do thanks to autocorrect. Otherwise it would say ‘space’. You can specify multiple dictionaries in your iPhone. Once you have done so, you will see the little world symbol to the left of the space bar, which lets you change languages easily.

The following conversation was between Marco and I during the coffee break in the middle of the class, since it lasts three hours. Keep in mind I usually drink coffee every night these days (black, no sugar), so I was kind of sad not to get any coffee last night due to being in class. Yet another student had said there was coffee, though when I got there I realized it cost 50 cents.

So I wrote: Er is koffie!!! Maar nee. Het kost 50 cents. 😛 (There is coffee. But no. It costs 50 cents.)

Ik ben nu een Nederlander -> I am now a Dutch person. (Playing on the stereotype that all Dutch people are cheap. If you remember, “going Dutch” is splitting the restaurant bill so that each person pays for himself.)

Marco: Typisch nederlands dus. Next time bring $ ? -> Typical Netherlander then.

Ik heb geld maar ik wil niet betalan. -> I have money but I don’t want to pay. 😉

It is going to be an interesting class I think. On the one hand, this is still mostly review for me, except for the occasional vocabulary word. On the other (much more glaring) hand, my speaking ability is sub-par and definitely could use some work. I write decent Dutch with the vocabulary I have, yet still tend to make a mistake in each sentence rather than not make any mistakes. Also, it would be nice to have additional answers to certain grammar questions that Marco doesn’t know.

I must admit I was glad to already have experience with the present perfect, though. It definitely tripped up some students. The plan is to stay ahead of the class in terms of homework and workbook exercises. After doing a full chapter a day for the last week, it seems pretty simple to do 1/3rd of a chapter once a week. But I don’t yet have a job like most of these students do, because they have been here for at least a year already.

Categories: Courses | Tags: | 1 Comment

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One thought on “New experiences (Or: Dutch lesson 1 of 14)

  1. Great blog Niki!!

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