BACK TO SCHOOL

There is something in my life that I have not written about. I decided to go through it first, and then share it on the blog. I have just completed my first Dutch language class and have lived to tell the story.

I signed up for a class that is offered by a school in Utrecht. It would teach me basic Dutch and if I completed the first class, I could continue with more classes. We met once a week on Wednesday nights. The course ran from March to mid-June. The class (called cursus) started at 7pm and ended at 10:15pm.

At the start of the class there were 22 students and one teacher (docente). The students were from 15 countries: England, India, Australia, Greece, Morocco, Poland, Hungary, Ecuador, Cuba, Spain, France, Brazil and Italy. Oh, and me: Ik kom uit Amerika.

We had three books we had to buy, a textbook, a workbook, and a dictionary. Inside the books were cds and we had to use them at home and at school. The point of this class was to really start at the beginning of the language, teaching us basic skills in how to communicate. We learned how to introduce ourselves, how to greet people, how to shop at the market, how to ask and give directions, and how to converse.

We had a great teacher, as she was very patient with our little UN of a group. Her goal was not only to teach us, but to get us to just speak more Dutch. And for me, it was so easy to slip into English. So my docente would gently nudge me to the Dutch when asking a question. This is hard to do when you are confused about something in Dutch on the white board and you have to ask a question in Dutch about your confusion.

The students were all very nice and we knew we were in the same boat. We were facing different challenges as some did not speak English at all, and some had a tough time with Dutch pronunciation. We slowly got to know each other and I made friends with Miss England, Miss Italy and Miss Greece (at the start, I knew their countries and not their first names, so it does sound like a pageant show). There were many laughs in the class and a lot of hard work. I realized soon enough that this was going to be tougher than I thought. I also learned that I was the oldest one in the class, because we all shared our birthdays. I do know that my memory is not as sharp as it used to be. I figure that there is more in my brain just because I have been around longer, so there may be less capacity to take in new stuff, especially a language.

The Dutch language is very hard to learn. I did a lot of homework and spent a lot of time going over and over things. I had help from my family but at the end of the day, it was all up to me. We had a final exam and there was a lot of pressure on us. In order to go on to the second class, you had to pass this exam. My plan was to take the second class in September, as I felt I had only just begun to learn Dutch. The good news for me, is that I did pass the exam. I studied a long time and locked myself away from the world, and it paid off. I have the summer off until school starts again.

There are no clubs, no football games, and no parties this time. This is not the school experiences of my past. We come in, we work, we chit chat and then we go home. No homecoming dance, no after school activities and no field trips. But how many times in your life are you going to have the chance to meet so many people from different countries with the same goal in mind… to complete a class? It was a very pleasant experience because of our teacher and the other students. The hardest part of the class was the subject. This summer I will prepare myself for this new class which will be much more difficult. I will have the same teacher, which makes me happy and there will likely be a whole new group of students. And the chances are good that I will still be the oldest one there.

Recommended reading: ONE HUNDRED NAMES by Cecelia Ahern. This is a good choice for a summer read, light but not too light. Ahern is a good and popular author from Ireland and this was a fun read.

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Comments

  • Wendy Pape  On June 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Good for you. Congratulations, my friend.

  • Lupi Dupi  On June 20, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Miss Amerika, I’m so happy to meet you in the Dutch language course. I hope to see you soon. Ciao, ciao…. Miss Italy

  • Jean Langley  On June 21, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Congratulations, Jane, and a bravo for your hard work. It’s awesome to have all those nationalities in your class. I love learning languages, but I do think it’s harder as you get older. I took an adult ed class in Spanish, but we were all English speaking people which I think made it easier. One of my problems was getting the accent right. The teacher said I was using a French accent. Funny,because I don’t think my French accent is very good. Is Dutch like a German accent?

    Do you think it helps to be surrounded by Dutch speaking people?

  • Leslie  On June 21, 2013 at 3:00 am

    Great story Jane. Glad you stayed the course…no pun intended.

  • judy savage  On June 21, 2013 at 3:14 am

    Gefeliciteerd, Jane!

  • Sandra  On June 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Bravo indeed. By learning the language, you show respect of your new home.

  • catfishred  On June 24, 2013 at 7:42 am

    You’ll remember these times with fondness, believe me. Only two of my fellow students in Dutch class still keep in touch with me. As for the rest, upon occasion I’ll wave to one or two on their bicycles heading for the shopping street of our town. Other than that it’s as if those I’d once intensely studied with have all but disappeared. Jammer, hé? Best of luck to you, Jane!

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