Courses

Random Dutch phrases (Or: B2-C1 course #6-#7)

Okay, so I missed the post for last week’s course! In actuality, it was just more fun to blog about Sinterklaas.

A few highlights from last week include the word hekkensluiter which literally means “gate closer” but translates more as the person who comes last (or brings up the rear, or lags behind). If you think about a group of people crossing through a gate, it is always the last person’s responsibility to close the gate behind them.

Another piece of grammar we learned last week was how adjectives which follow behind iets or niets (something or nothing) have an -s added to the word. But it has to come directly after iets or niets.

Er is niets leuks op televisie. There is nothing good on tv.
Ik wil iets bijzonders doen. I want to do something special.
Wil je iets lekkers bij de koffie? Misschien speculaastaart? Do you want something tasty with the coffee? Maybe speculaastaart?

Some fun phrases we learned in yesterday’s class include:

wachten tot Sint Juttemis = waiting forever. Another way to say waiting forever is wachten tot je een ons weegt, or waiting until you weigh an ounce. Impossible to do and still be alive.

Als je ergens mee zit = amusingly, Google translate says this is “if you sit on something”, but admittedly, it is not something to be translated literally. It means “if you have problems”. Type that phrase into Google and you will get a lot of self-help websites about depression and similar.

And here’s a random picture of Scheveningen to close off the blog post. Not the best quality in the world, but it will do.

Scheveningen November 2014

Notice the tree off to the left completely covered in white lights. On the right side you have the movie theatre, Pathé, with the yellow logo on the top of the building. The north sea is behind the tall buildings in the center.

And hey, I’ve now visited Scheveningen enough (and needed to look up tram schedules) that I can spell the city name without having to look it up… cool!

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Ignoring illegality – gedogen (Or: B2-C1 course #5)

This week, one thing that we covered in my Dutch class was the concept of ignoring what is officially illegal. The term for this (a verb) is gedogen. The Dutch do this with soft drug use (cannabis) – allowing “coffee shops” to exist. The rules call for no advertising to take place, no hard drug sales on the premises, no sales to those under the age of 18, no quanities greater than 5 grams, and no public disturbances. Ironically the coffee shop is allowed to buy and sell cannabis within the rules above, but the supplies of the cannabis are not allowed to grow, import, or sell it to a coffee shop. Thus the expression “the front door is open, but the backdoor is illegal”.

During the class we also discussed the various forms of certain words. For example, nu (now) is both an adverb and a conjunction.

Ik ga nu naar de bibliotheek. I am now going to the library.
Nu het te laat is, komt hij. Now that it is too late, he comes.

In the second example, nu translates to “now that”; you wouldn’t say nu dat het te laat is, but you still invert the order of the sentence as if you had done so. I’ll be honest – I had no idea about this one and could only stare at the teacher blankly as she asked if we had heard of this piece of grammar.

Something similar can be done with toen (then), which I knew. It is also a adverb and a conjunction, depending on the sentence.

Kids or new speakers to the language 😉 tend to say En toen… en toen… en toen… as they tell a story. “And then I did this. And then we went there. And then we ate this.” In that sense it is an adverb. But toen is also a conjunction – Toen ik naar huis ging, heb ik de hond gevonden. “When I went home, I found the dog.”

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Word webs (Or: B2-C1 course #4)

This past week was the 4th of 10 lessons for the Dutch B2-C1 course at Volksuniversiteit in The Hague. One thing that stood out to me was the assigned homework. We had to construct a word web to show how you can go from one word to either synonyms or antonyms.

Like this (taken from the text book):

Dutch word web

The original discussion came from discussing the qualities that the Dutch are known for, and being tolerant is one of them (opinions can differ, of course). Hence the Nederlands on the right (for Dutch). On the top you have three verbs which are similar to the noun, including to accept, to understand (though probably begrijp is better) and to allow. After that you have antonyms: intolerance and discrimination. On the left, underneath, you have expressions or feelings which are created when talking about tolerance (in this case: freedom, living together, and culture), and further two more adjectives: understanding and respecting.

Not the perfect representation but you get the idea! It was definitely an interesting assignment.

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Taalhuis (Of: Bij de Centrale bibliotheek in Den Haag)

Earlier this year the Dutch books moved from the 4th floor of the Central library to the second floor. I was recently on the library’s website and came across a mention of the Taalhuis (“Language house”). Someone is available for a few hours on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Here is the linked article translated in English:

Taalhuis

Difficulty with reading, writing or speaking the Dutch language? Stop by the Taalhouse on the second floor of the Centrale bibliotheek. Here you can find books, cd-roms and practice material to help you. During the consultation hours there is someone available to help you with questions. You are welcome to stop by.

What does the Taalhuis do?

If you need help with learning how to read or write the Dutch language better, you can come to the Taalhuis. Volunteers can support you by finding the right information about language courses or education in The Hague. But the Taalhuis also has a collection available to help you with self study: study material to learn reading and writing the language better. Or to help someone else with improving their language abilities. The collection in the Taalhuis is available during the opening hours of the Centrale bibliotheek. Only during the consultation hours is someone available to help you with finding a course that works best for you.

Consultation hours
Tuesday from 11.00 – 13.30 hours
Thursday from 13.00 – 15.30 hours

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The headline said what? (Or: B2-C1 course #3

One of the more amusing things that we did in the Dutch course a few nights ago was look at headlines that might have double meanings:

odd headlines or signs in Dutch

With headlines like this:

Nieuwe baas Douwe Egberts komt van Mars = The new boss for Douwe Egberts [coffee company] comes from Mars… but they mean Mars incorporated, the candy/etc seller, not the planet. I hope.

Verkeer van Druten naar Nijmegen moet 3 dagen omrijden = Traffic from Druten to Nijmegen must detour for three days. What they actually mean is that the need for a detour will last three days – the Netherlands is definitely not big enough for a three day detour!

Eikels beschadigen auto’s in Hoog-Keppel = Eikels has two meanings in Dutch. The first, and what they mean here, is acorns. But it is also slang for the derogatory term ‘prick’ – which also makes sense in this context, though you’d never see it in a headline.

We also talked a bit more about the term “lekker” and the various ways it can be used. It is at times a hard concept to grasp for the non-Dutch. The easiest way is to use the term is with food, to say that the food is tasty (lekker).

But you can also use it with temperature or weather – Het is lekker warm buiten, with smells – Dat ruikt lekker. – with sounds – De gitaar klinkt lekker, and more. You can even use it sarcastically: Dat is lekker belangrijk (That is really important – but not really). Or Hij is lekker laat. He is late. Or the oddest of them all: Het stinkt lekker! Since things stink (but some people still like the smell).

Next week is herfstvakantie (fall vacation) so I will have a week off.

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Another step (Or: C1 course #1-2)

So… as I mentioned a few weeks back, I registered for a B2-C1 course. Originally I had registered for a course which focused only on the speaking component but that fell through, so I am now registered for a full B2-C1 course (speaking, writing, reading and listening).

It’s… interesting. I have been to two lessons so far (hence the blog post title). Het huiswerk? Daar had ik echt geen zin in! The homework? I had absolutely no desire to do that. But the second week seemed better, and more like a routine again.

You can tell that it is an advanced course – the emphasis is more on “the little things”. I learned a new term from our textbook Hogerop! De puntjes op de i  — the term is prosodie (English | Dutch wikipedia). It’s the study of rhythm, stress and intonation of speech. How does it sound to your ear? Does it sound like a native speaker is talking? An example is using contractions like a true speaker would — ‘k instead of ik‘m instead of hem, and similar. Much like English would say “I wouldn’t do that” instead of “I would not do that” which sounds less natural.

There’s also an emphasis on uitdrukkingen or fixed expressions, like met een mond vol tanden staan, or ‘with a mouthful of teeth’ = not able to say anything.

So – it’s a class to round out the edges and refine your language skills. Officially it ends in early December, but I found out during the last lesson that that this is technically only half of the B2-C1 course, and that the other half is offered in the Spring. Hmmm. We’ll have to see what happens!

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Couldn’t stay away (Or: On to B2-C1)

Last night I signed up for another Dutch course! I know that I said I would wait until the Spring… but I guess I just couldn’t stay away. This one will focus just on Dutch conversation though (to try and improve my speaking skills) rather than a full course offering (reading, writing, listening, speaking). The course I signed up for was at the B2-C1 level (see Wikipedia). Woo — moving into the ‘proficient user’ stage! Of course it comes with a textbook – which appeals to the librarian in me!

It begins in a few weeks – after Marco and I go on vacation next week. We’re heading off to the east of the country – Arnhem, Maastricht and the like.

Ik kijk uit naar vakantie, hoor!

Keep calm and learn Dutch

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Toetsverklaring (Or: End of the B2 Dutch course)

Yesterday our Dutch class was invited to our teacher’s house for a barbecue get-together. At the end of the night she passed out certificates for those who students had passed the course (to pass, you needed to get 3 out of the 4 sections at B2 level).

toetsverklaring NT2 B2 Mondriaan

I succeeded in getting everything at the B2 level (the last row in the chart). 

Op weg naar = on the way to. i.e., in between a level.

Along with the certificate the teacher also said a few words about each of us. How awesome! Of course when she talked about me she talked about how I said right away that I was a grammar nut. 🙂 She also bought each of us a book and this is the book I received:

Taal is zeg maar echt mijn ding

Taal is zeg maar echt mnijn ding = Language is really my thing. Appropriate, don’t you think? I haven’t had time to read it yet but I hope to soon.

And lastly… last night I signed up for the Staatsexamen programma II. Awesome! I will be taking it later this summer. After that the language courses stop for the most part (most people don’t go past this) though I do know of one place that has a C1 course if I really want to keep going – next year maybe.

I am sort of nervous about it but I know if I buckle down and study I should be fine. More excuse to visit the library and study [says the librarian]!

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Success (Or: I passed the B2 Dutch course)

Today we received the results for the B2 course I have been taking at ROC Mondriaan. I passed all four sections – reading, writing, listening and speaking – with no problems. I did ironically have some comments about how to work on my writing, but it was mainly due to a lack of time to check over my work when I was done writing. I tend to write a lot – a bit too much probably!

When I got home I saw a small gift on the table from Marco. The message he wrote on it makes me wonder what I should have done with it if I hadn’t passed the tests. Burn it?

passed a test surprise

“open me if you passed the exams – Marco”

If you know what ‘Jamin’ is (what it sells), you can already guess what the gift is. ;p

chocolate from Jamin in the Netherlands

Chocolate! geslaagd = successful, in the sense of success at passing a test (a school exam, a driving test, etc).

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Helemaal geen probleem (Or: Done with the tests)

On Thursday I took the remaining two tests for my B2 Dutch course – het was helemaal geen probleem. It was not a problem at all. The first test was a one on one speaking test with the teacher for 15 minutes. I did get a bit off track with one of the questions but was able to save it.

Due to the scheduling, that test was from 6:45 – 7:00PM and the following test (listening) was at 8:30PM. Because of that, I asked Marco to come with and wait downstairs, and after the test was done we walked to Hema. We had coffee and shared a chocolate chip cookie.

coffee and cookie by Hema

Of course, the chocolate cookies aren’t quite as awesome as the white chocolate cranberry cookies by Hema… yum!

I must admit to being happy – I thought I would have been more nervous during the speaking test. The listening test was also fine, so I know I passed the course. There are still two “lessons” to go – we are on vacation next week, and then the following Tuesday we receive the results and on Thursday we have a party.

Party time!

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