Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thinking, Thinking, Thinking

For some reason today at work, I cannot think of anything else but languages (I'm sure you are not surprised!)  It is a bit of a slow day, so I've been looking at different language resources online.

I am at an interesting point in my Dutch now.  I would say that I am now "barely functional."  This is a good thing though!  By barely functional, I mean that I can pretty much get though the day without having to ask for too much English on the very basic every day tasks, nothing major or out of the ordinary though (yet.)  I feel like it is such a strange feeling to be at this stage.  At some points I feel like I don't know anything, but at other times, I can't believe that I understood something.  There are just so many extremes.  For example, I got an introductory pamphlet from the library when I joined and I was for the most part able to browse through it and actually obtain information about the library without having to translate anything!  I was pretty happy and impressed with myself at the same time.  But then there are also times, like for example today, where I found a word list online with some pretty common words on it, and I only knew maybe about 20% of them.  It seams as if there really is no linear progression to learning a language, but really just a bunch of randomness and things either click or they don't.  And, there is really no way to "force the click."  But let me tell you, it is a great feeling every now and again when you do experience "the click."

At this point also, I am still wandering if I am approaching learning Dutch correctly.  There are so many contradictory viewpoints out there that I'm just not sure what to think.  I guess since I am making progress it is a good thing and I am doing something right, but there is always a thought in the back of my mind that is asking, "What if there is a better way that I could be doing this?"  I now have so many different things that I am doing each night, reading kids books | 10 words per day iPhone app | reviewing Rosetta Stone | watching online Dutch videos | reading the website | Dutch Word of the Day in my RSS reader | and whatever else that I can think of doing, it's pretty crazy.  Recently I'm starting to wander now if I am getting enough speaking practice.  Even though I try to speak Dutch when I can, I am not really forcing myself to, I only do it when I am relatively comfortable with what I am going to say.  I think I need to start challenging myself more in that area next.  Yes, conversations are nowhere near as colorful when I am using Dutch because of my limited vocabulary, but still, it must be done.

Also, now that I have some French friends, I decided to quiz myself to see what I remembered from high school French today online.  I was pretty amazed at some of the stuff I did remember.

One other thing that's been bugging me (and I am not happy with myself that I let it get to me) is that I am damn jealous of Kris who is a native English speaker but also speaks perfect Dutch and near perfect French.  I am always thinking "Why can't I do that?"  Never mind the fact that he's been speaking French since he was in high school and Dutch for the last 10 years, that part always seams to slip my mind.  I try my best to turn the feeling around into a positive one and make myself think...look it is possible if Kris was able to do it so keep trying.  It really gives me something to strive for.  [Kris, do not let this get your your head!]

Well, this was what has been on my mind today so I thought I'd write about it as an update about what's been going on with me lately.  No, I am not obsessing today about not knowing Dutch, but am more just thinking about it in both good and bad ways.  Like I said, I am at an interesting point right now with this whole process.

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