Monday, March 26, 2012

And on the language learning…

My Dutch administrator send me a note to tell me that the results of two of my three tests were in – she hadn’t received the third yet but remain at the same level for Listening and Reading.  There’s no indication of my scores or whether I’m moving within a series of tests within a level, just a reminder that my 18-month  limit is not far off and I should keep improving.

The tests were easy: unless I got careless picking from the multiple-choice boxes, I should have done fine.  I followed up to ask about the scores and thresholds but was told that I’m being handed off to a new administrator.

Similarly, when I visited the Gemeente, I found that my new administrator (January) had handed me off to another new administrator (March).  This fellow apologized for not answering calls: he spontaneously took a few days off because the weather was nice.  “I like not working,” he smiled.  Wouldn’t we all.

I find it all very frustrating.

The Daily Dutch commitment was yielding solid progress in Reading (I read the FD and Volkskrant daily) and Writing (I know most of the words I need).  When I ride the train, I read the Metro, de Pers, or the Spits: there was a charming story that I really enjoyed today without having to refer to a dictionary.  Listening and speaking are lagging, but I’m increasing my diet of radio, television, podcasts, and time with neighbors.

I’m increasingly  concerned that there is a gap between these activities and the content of the test.  The college is heavily oriented towards learning social norms and finding a job; the  test questions all dealt with getting along with neighbors and getting job interviews.  My daily interactions are with doing software design and discussing politics.  It’s different vocabulary and audience, and maybe they don’t overlap.

My Dutch neighbor tells me not to fight the system.  Stop reading the newspapers and start learning the classroom primers.  Stop having conversations with businessmen and start having dialogs with shopkeepers. Do more practice tests; focus on the portfolios.

I’ll try. It does make it hard to stay motivated, though.


Jules: said...

I find what helps is talking with secretaries, doctors, the NS people, shopkeepers, etc in Dutch. And don't be afraid to ask, "Wat bedoelt u?" I've used that line more than I care to count.

I do think you are overthinking the situation, though. I wouldn't worry overly much about the gemeente course--it's the NT2 that you need to pass, and that, I've been told, is a different beast entirely.

David Hampton said...

You're right - I do overthink things (simultaneously a good and bad trait :) ).

The best approach is probably to mix the community alongside working the school lessons, the travel puts a crimp on direct interactions. Hopefully I'll get seated between a bunch of Dutch speakers flying out of Amsterdam next week (or bore the flight attendants to tears).

BV said...

Dag David,
Waarom gebruik je jouw blog niet om af en toe Nederlands te oefenen en vragen te stellen? Ongetwijfeld zijn er lezers, zoals ik, die jou onze moedertaal willen bijbrengen. Of is het met name het spreken wat problemen oplevert?



Textual Healer said...


i found the same thing with my Dutch courses. It was all a hidden agenda of 'inburgering': how to apply for a job, etc disguised as a language course. There was no mention of Dutch culture, writers painters or architects in the entire two years. This whole language issue is a facade for 'encouraging' allochtoons to become a bit more integrated. Hardly relevant for highly educated people with a western background. For you the language course is a must do - for me it was a freebie that i hoped to learn something from. I struggled to maintain enthusiasm.

David Hampton said...

Dank u wel, Bernd: het zou helpen om mijn schrijven in de blog commentaren te oefenen. Ik zal proberen om meer van mijn antwoorden te doen in het Nederlands, maar ik weet dat er fouten gemaakt. :)

David Hampton said...

Thanks, Nick, I couldn't agree more. I'm back to work on it and will just work with the nonsense coming from the college and the Gemeente. Any way I look, at it, this is my best chance to attain fluency and permanent residency!)

Did your Dutch study help you in speaking Flanders when you moved to Belgium?