I arrived in Amsterdam on Tuesday and have been busy settling down.
Before I left Canada, I picked up "Living Language: Spoken World Dutch". I really enjoyed the Living Language "Beyond the Basics" and "Ultimate French Advanced" courses for French (since they were both dialog based). I quickly flipped through the book when I opened the box. It seems to be close to Teach Yourself, but with more traditional exercises and fewer drawings. There are also writing exercises (like, paragraph sized and scaled to the difficulty of the lesson) that I'm going to do and post on lang-8. (Finding topic to write about on lang-8 was always hard for me.)
That was a couple of days ago. Having looked a little more closely at it, I think I'm going to drop TY in favour of it. There is much more audio content (6 CDs vs. 2), the dialogs are in general longer, there is more content in the grammar explanations and example sentences. All the example sentences are also recorded on the CDs. The CDs are actually in 2 sets: The (A) set contains the dialogs, example sentences, and exercises to do with the book in front of you. Set (B) is for using "on the go" without the book. Giving the way the tracks are broken down, it's just a matter of copying the right tracks onto my mp3 player so I can have the dialogs alone to shadow with. Plus, having the extra example vocab spoken and in context is a great help.
Today was my first day speaking with Real Dutch People.
I told someone (in Dutch) that I spoke a tiny bit of Dutch. She asked me (in Dutch) "How is that?" which I understood without translating to English (it's a phrase from conversation 5.1 of TY "Teach Yourself Dutch Conversation"). I wasn't able to reply (which is stupid, since I should have been able to respond using sentences from Lesson 17 of Assimil -- it's all about how to say you learned with Assimil and how it's the best method on the market :), but I kind of sputtered and only managed to say the name of the course, rather than an actual grammatical sentence.
Dutch exchange number 2 was ordering at a café where I then didn't understand the waiter's question ("what kind of bread"), and then two more exchanges on the metro trying to get home: 1) "where does train 51 leave from" and 2) "what is the name of this station" (pointing at a map of the area near our hotel with unmarked station names). In both of these cases, I managed to get the piece of information I needed, even if I didn't fully understand the response. So, success.
I'm pretty happy actually. I feel like I'm already more willing to use what small amount of Dutch I actually have. To contrast this with French, I was always terrified to speak French without being perfect.