mercredi 30 septembre 2009

Learning Dutch

Well, I've started down the road to learning Dutch. This was mostly triggered by a spur-of-the-moment trip to Amsterdam at the start of September. I brought back two books (a cookbook and a translation of http://www.showmenow.com) both in Dutch. I wanted to read them, so I figured "Hey, why not?". It was partially also the fact that I feel a lot more comfortable in French than I did earlier in the year. The cooking course helped, but I think the advanced oral communication course at McGill really cemented it for me: I speak French fine. (I ended up with an A- in the course, I'll talk about that in a later post.) I watched a bunch of Spy movies this weekend, a couple were in French. So, I've clearly gotten to the point with my French where straight studying doesn't make much more sense.. might as well use it.

My brief experiment with Esperanto didn't go super well.. I couldn't get motivated enough, and it always felt like a toy-language (in the CS sense of the word.)

I've picked up the Assimil Dutch and Teach Yourself Dutch, and I'm using those as my primary resources. I've already decided that flash cards don't work for me, so I'm not going to fool myself and start a Dutch deck.

It's really interesting to be back at the beginning of a language. I think I underestimated how much "background" French I had from the 10 years or so in school. Starting from zero is a bit of a shock. I understand _nothing_. Looking back, I don't think I had any trouble with the French assimil lessons until I hit around number 30, and even then I was fine to listen and understand, just not produce.
Part of me keeps thinking "What have I gotten myself into?" 3 years of studying to read a cookbook. The road ahead seems so very very long. I think about how much time I've put in to French and where I'm at, and knowing that I'm going to have to put in a huge amount of effort to get to that level in Dutch too. They say the third language is easier than the second. I'm interested to see how that works for me. (The cookbook, by the way, is the sequel to a cookbook I bought in French. Both are translations from the German..)

I don't like the Teach Yourself recordings: way too much English on them. And not in a useful way like Pimsleur, where after almost every sentence (in either English or Dutch) you translate the English, or repeat the Dutch. For walking, I prefer to listen to the Assimil lessons (even though for the moment I find them much harder, there isn't that annoying interference with the English. The TY audio isn't solid enough to be passive listening, nor participatory enough to be active study like Pimsleur.)

I'm not yet going to switch my computer (browser/website prefs, google etc) to Dutch, but they're all still in French and I'm enjoying that. No ADATT for me yet.

I did my first lang-8 Dutch post.

Okay, enough formless rambling. I'll come back in a bit when I have more to add. Maybe a 1-month update or something. If I can get to the end of the first CD in Assimil maybe.

I never really thought I'd turn into a language geek, but it does appear to be happening.

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