Monthly Archives: May 2013

Harry Potter (Or: Reading for vocabulary in Dutch)

Since I finished the Dutch test earlier this week, I decided to treat myself on Wednesday morning and head off to the library to pick up the first Harry Potter book (Sorcerer’s Stone) in Dutch, along with the accompanying audio version. The latter I immediately transferred to my iPhone. While I have an external CD drive to plug into my netbook, it is cumbersome at best.

This actually continues the same tradition that I still had when I lived at home with my parents – I have two or three of the Harry Potter books in Spanish as well. While my Spanish speaking skills were horrible at best, my reading skills were decent at that level. It still took about 5-7 minutes to read each page, though.

Part of the reason I seem to choose Harry Potter is because I have read the books and seen the movies in English. (Now that I am reading the first book over again in Dutch, I’m wondering if I need to brush up on what actually happens in the books. I don’t remember x y and z happening.)

The main goal of this project is to learn more vocabulary, while also hearing the spoken word. While my spoken Dutch is miles ahead of my what my Spanish was, my vocabulary and pronunciation definitely need to improve. So it is slower going then it was with the Spanish version.

One thing I have quickly learned – listen to at least a few paragraphs of Dutch before you pause the chapter to write down some vocabulary. Otherwise, you will never get into the flow of things!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone in Dutch

I suspect this will take me the rest of the year …

Categories: Reading | Tags: | 6 Comments

Mijn toets (Or: Dutch lesson 13 of 14)

So last night was our toets (test). It went pretty well. There were definitely some things that I got wrong, but not that many I think (or hope). We received 70 minutes, though she gave us an extra 10 minutes. And let me tell you, those 70 minutes went fast…

The test was 11 pages I believe. Though of course some pages were quicker than others. It was more writing sentences than filling in the blank. I and a few others agree that sometimes it is hard to have enough imagination for these tests. For example, you are told you are asking your friend something, and are given the first few words of a possible question. You must complete the question. Sometimes you spend more time thinking about what question to ask then how to actually write the question in Dutch.

The last page was a bit of a doozy – you get a chart in Dutch which you must describe in 6 to 12 sentences. (This year the total was this, and then the following year the total decreased to this, etc.) While I had studied all of the vocabulary, I’m not sure that I used them completely correctly. But again, not so many points off there.

And of course, the other annoying factor was just how much I was using my pencil eraser, getting little bits everywhere! At least we had more room to move around, because we didn’t sit right next to each other this week.

After the test we had a break of about 15 minutes and then went back in. Some of the students left at that point, but most stayed. We talked about what we wanted to do next week, the final week of the class, in addition to going over the tests themselves. Things like games, or just conversing, or cultural things. She did say she would also bring in some stroopwafels…

We did have a little bit of grammar after the test, die and dat. In English, it is similar to using “who” in sentences where you give more information about someone or something.

die = words with “de” and all plural words

dat = singular words with “het”

De man die daar staat… (the man who stands there)

Zij is het meisje dat ik heb gevonden. (She is the girl that I have found)

Marco told me about this one some months ago. Mainly because every time I make a mistake he corrects me! (that’s a good thing)

me: Mensen dat …

Marco: die

me: Oh. Mensen die …


Oh, and of case you’re wondering, die is pronounced like the the letter “d” in the English alphabet, not like… well… die.

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Bakkerij Toebast (Or: Mocha cake)

Another food related post… I know, I know! But this one is… just, sweet.

slice of mocha cake

Here’s a slice of mocha cake from Bakkerij ToebastEven the design of the plastic surrounding the slice of cake was quite well thought out. And yes, it tasted just as good as it looked…

I was actually a bit amused by the Mocca name plate on top, just in case you forget the flavor. I had a choice of this or apple pie. While I have grown a bit more fond of apple pie since I moved to the Netherlands (especially if the cake is put in the fridge for a bit to let the apples inside chill a bit) this choice was a no brainer. Lekker!

Categories: Food | Tags: | 2 Comments

Lekker! (Or: Turkse pizza)

I had a meeting at the neighborhood library today. There was also Turkish pizza available – lekker! (yum). The pizza was from Restaurant Meydan in the Hobbemaplein.

Turkse pizza in Den Haag

The reason it is called pizza is because it resembles a pizza before you wrap it up. Mine was half of the pizza. Each box seems to contain three or four dough bases (with a thin sheet in between) so you do get a fair amount per box.

It comes with thin dough and a thin layer of meat. You can add knoflooksaus (white garlic sauce), a bit of salad (I should have added more!) and sambal (the red sauce). I definitely should have added more sambal, as it is nice and spicy. Though it was a bit messy, as it kept dripping out the end that I wasn’t holding. I had a napkin underneath on the table but it soaked right through. Easy to wipe up though.


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Studying (Or: Dutch lesson 12 of 14)

Almost at the end! Next week is the big test. We spent about an hour going over what what would be on it. The problem is that we are slightly behind (4 more sections to go) so she had to quickly cover what was on the test that we hadn’t learned yet. “Study this exercise! Study that exercise!” and similar. It was a bit of whirlwind.

The class sized remained about the same – maybe 10 people or so. While the teacher was pretty helpful about what to study, it also included broader things such as “study all of the chapter summaries” or “study all of the grammar exercises in the workbook”. Not a big deal, though. This class also had some little things that I didn’t know. Like “wat” is the same as “iets” (something).

Here is one thing we learned – how to express a wish. The construction of the sentence changes depending on whether you are wishing for an object (like a new tv) or wishing for an action (like the bus not being late)

Ik zou (graag) een nieuwe tv willen. (object)

It doesn’t literally translate well to English – I wish (really) a new tv want (? yikes). But in English it is: I (really) want a new tv.

Ik zou (graag) willen dat mijn toets makkelijk is. (action)

I (really) wish that my test is easy. This one translates a bit better to English, except that “is” moves to the end because that part of the sentence (my test is easy) is a sub clause.

I can’t believe there are only two weeks to go. The plan is to keep studying over the summer, even if I can’t find a class that runs over the summer itself. But this week there will be a lot of studying…

And here’s a picture from last month:

Oude Kerk in Delft

The leaning Oude Kerk (old church) in Delft, which we visited with friends. Look at it lean!

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Landscaping (Or: Dutch gardens)

One thing the Dutch like (for the most part) is their gardens, or tuin(en). These pictures were taken near where my Dutch lessons are, although you can’t see the college building from here.

Dutch gardens in The Hague

And a closeup of another flower bush.

Dutch gardens in The Hague 2

It has been cold the last week and a half. And there has been a lot of rain lately! But to be honest, before that there wasn’t much rain, just cold weather… Maar ik ben nu een echte Nederlander. Ik klaag over het weer!

But I am now a real Dutch(wo)man. I complain about the weather!

Categories: The Hague | Tags: , | 1 Comment

New things (Or: Volunteer work)

Last week I decided to volunteer at a small library within The Hague. I was a bit apprehensive about the idea, but I have already spent one day there and think I will fit in well. My Dutch has been getting better and better as the weeks go on and I really need more practice with that. This also gets me out of the house more. Currently I will work a few hours a day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The library itself is pretty small and primarily serves kids – newborns to age 12 – as well as their parents. There’s a lot of fiction books, from board books to books for young adults, and a small non-fiction section as well. They even have about 20-25 books in Turkish (as that is a need in the neighborhood) and a few shelves worth of NT2 books. Those books are used to help you learn and perfect your Dutch.

I spent the afternoon there this past Wednesday, meeting some of my coworkers. Generally you work with one or two other people during your shift. As its a pretty small library (only one main room), there is a fair bit of time when you have no patrons hanging around. Luckily, we received a shipment of 9 boxes of books, so we could spend an hour or two putting the books away on the shelf. My coworkers had a laugh when I said my first Dutch book was Dikkie Dik (just a random picture book with the star being an orange tabby cat). I still have it as I brought it with when we moved…

It’s pretty interesting to do this, as it’s 100% in Dutch. I understand my coworkers pretty well, but so far they have done a good job of simplifying their language a bit! I’m not sure that I want to stay within the library field forever (there is not that many opportunities for jobs in this sector) but for now it’s pretty fun to volunteer.

Categories: Working & Volunteering | 2 Comments

Slaapkop! (Or: Dutch lesson 11 of 14)

Slaapkop = a person who is sleepy. Or as we say in English, “sleepy head”. (My teacher called one of my classmates a slaapkop.)

Today’s class had about the same number of students. There were more people there at the start of the class (6 students and the teacher) and we ended up with 11. This chapter was more interesting than the last ones have been. The theme was het nieuws (the news) and included a poll about whether or not foreigners should be required to speak Dutch when outside on the street. It turns out that this section of the book is from an actual poll conducted in 2006 (Dutch).

The reactions that they used in the textbook were made up, however.

Contact 1 text 1

12 = José: I totally agree [that foreigners should speak Dutch outside on the street]. I find it disrespectful for our language and culture if people speak another language on our street. I find it terrible if I walk on the street in my own country and the people can’t understand [Dutch].

I will say that I would find it pretty difficult to speak Dutch outside on the street, because it still requires a level of concentration. Noisy places tend to make concentrating a bit more difficult! There have been a few times on the street when I have been glad someone switched to English (like the time Marco and I stumbled across some friends on Koninginnenacht a few weeks ago).

I can see where they are coming from though. If I heard 25% Spanish everywhere I went in America I’d probably get pretty tired of it too. And then sign up for Spanish lessons (again)…

You of course have the other side of the argument – most Dutch people seem okay with talking to you in English. I don’t really have the problem of random strangers switching to English with me, thankfully. However, I am not saying the conversations that I do have are long and detailed. Usually they are not.

Contact 1 text 2

Possible reactions you can say (positive, neutral, or negative) to give your opinions

Above is one of the many charts included in the book. They write in most of the words for you, and you just have to fill in the blanks. Pretty interesting.

Three classes to go! And then I must find another class.

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Unexpected art (Or: Car sideways on a building)

I definitely wasn’t expecting to see this random bit of art when Marco and I were walking through Schilderswijk (= painter’s district) in the The Hague. One of the many neighborhoods.

car stuck on the side of the building art

What drew my eyes first were the arrows leading up…

Categories: The Hague | Tags: | 3 Comments

Cinnamon rolls (Or: Marco the master baker)

Here’s what Marco decided to bake today. Cinnamon rolls!

cinnamon rolls

If you’re Roger, you should be happy since that means you get to eat some during coffee tonight!

Categories: Food | Tags: | 3 Comments

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