Thursday, May 11, 2006

How's that Dutch Coming Along?

Today, in the elevator, I said something to myself (I was alone) and I said it in Dutch. I realized that while the words definitely have meaning, there is a little bit of a disconnect still when I am speaking. It's like I'm speaking through muslin or something. Learning a new language is a strange process.

When I speak to Fred, I speak in Dutch 95% of the time. With him, it's more natural, more like I'm just talking. My thoughts seem clearer and it feels natural. It's been almost a year now that we've mostly conversed in Dutch and it's a very nice feeling. I also talk to the cafeteria women at work exclusively in Dutch. For some reason we started doing it and now they just expect me to talk to them in Dutch. It's nice.

It's when I'm talking to other people, people who are not aware of my limitations, where I get tripped up. Some phrases are pretty practiced and I sound really good as I throw them out. This gives these people the idea that I'm ready to go and they chatter on a normal speed using the many many expressions that Dutch is full of. Fred's family is pretty good at slowing down and listening, but I still get pretty nervous.

A few weeks ago, I spoke with one of his nieces for about an hour about the Dutch educational system. It's different than the American system. They make choices at about age 16 that determine the course of their lives to some extent. I'm still not sure what it's all called, but they don't have a bachelors degree type system. It's called HBO or something.

I feel like my Dutch is on the edge of getting better. The whole time it's sort of felt like a series of steps or plateaus. It feels like I'm about to hit the next level. I hope it's the listening/understanding piece. That's still difficult for me and I'm ready for it to be better.

The other day I realized that I don't write much about my every day life here. It's a pretty normal life and I hate to write that we had Indian food after work and then went next door for an ice cream. Reminds me of my first attempts at diaries when I was very young.

That said, I think I need to write more about my every day life. I feel like it's being missed. I feel like I need to write some things down. Like I'm going to Dutch class tonight. It ends in November and I'll be glad to have that commitment off my plate. I've completely lost my energy for it and I need to get it back.

Three weeks in the US ought to help. I need a break.

No comments: