I visited my Dutch college this week to try to get my inburgering back on track. The past couple of months has been hard on the daily time that I set aside to work on my language skills, and I’d fallen badly out of sync with classwork.
I’ve been able to continue reading and writing: most of the Dutch newspapers and radio stations are available on the Internet, and I spend time daily reading selections and writing about them to a Dutch friend.
New words go onto a growing vocabulary list that I can drill through VTrain, a flashcard trainer that is easy to set up with Dutch-English pairs.
The War of the Week with Rosetta Stone ended in a draw – they refused to renew my subscription but gave me a three month free preview of the new TOTALe course, with progressive drills and live chat. I’ve started working through the exercises again but still need to see how the studio sessions work.
The problem is the listening and speaking, more mundane conversational skills. My administrator stresses that there is no way to pass NT2 without regular and focused Dutch language presentations and conversations.
I do bi-weekly Skype chats with Dutch friends, which helps, but would like something that I can watch and follow more often. There’s limited availability of Dutch television outside of the Netherlands, but some shows have been serialized and can be obtained on DVD or BitTorrent.
Such is Flikken Maastricht, a police drama set along the otherwise placid Maas. It’s got a bit of a Hill Street Blues feel at the intro (being from Chicago, I can appreciate that):
In it, Wolf and Eva sport fashion worthy of Miami Vice, zip around town in tiny police cars and big speedboats, and hyperlink around familiar venues connected by imaginary alleys. It’s all good fun.
The stories are familiar, so the Dutch is understandable – I never really get lost and can always pick up the thread if I lose a few words.
And, here, Wolf sits and broods outside of my old apartment. The bench actually never existed here (it would be nice if it had), but my bicycle’s been parked at that same spot countless times…
… and in unusual ways.