Learning the lingua franca…

With all the excitement of having twins, I never really got around to posting about my attempts to learn Dutch.  It's a requirement by the government here that you must pass at least one level of Dutch course to attain permanent residency.  I'm trying for the middle level, as the basic level is more orientated towards buying a bus ticket, supermarket shopping and the like, and the highest level is for those wanting to go to university …

Let me tell you something about Dutch.  I have never, ever encountered a language like it.  Think of it along the lines of a drunk Englishman trying to speak German.  Throw in some random throat clearings and you're done.

I started my classes in Amsterdam in February last year, and found myself in a world of a language that was so close, yet so far from my own.  I studied French at school, and only did 6 months of German and Indonesian, and seeing that was the best part of 20 years ago, I was  completely lost.  Being back in the classroom situation was just the start of revisiting the learning process.

It's not easy picking up a new language.  It is great though when you have a fantastic teacher (which I did!) and an amazing group of people to learn with.  Still, I found it a struggle and even now, a year later, I'm much more confident in my use of the language, but I make epic mistakes.  As you do. I mix up verb orders, I mix up tenses, and sometimes I think maybe I've propositioned someone … (or just broken out into a completely made up language …. judging by the blank looks.)

I force myself to speak Dutch out in public, and am exceptionally grateful when people speak it back to me.  I learned a lot of medical terms recently, but life is good when you can speak the language.  I can now negotiate my way around the market, the supermarket and the shops … and of course, I can swear fluently.

One Reply to “Learning the lingua franca…”

  1. Learning a new language is always fun! And making mistakes is part of that fun. It’s good that you don’t let it put you off though, some people would be content with getting the basics down and not bothering to learn anything more than that. Obviously, as both Dutch and German have the same root, I can see a lot of similarities with words. Sometimes I can get a vague sense of what’s being said because of that.

    I’m sure swearing was one of the first things you learnt 😉

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