The participants at Bijlmer Bridge2Hope have been working hard to learn the Dutch language, and they are doing really well! Yesterday we had an oral quiz of past material, with all of the books closed. The ladies were remarkable in formulating Dutch phrases and were able to do it with no help about 85% of the time! The participants were extremely happy and encouraged to realize how much they already know, and that they can do it without looking at the material for reference. Even though it still is very difficult to converse in the Dutch language, we are making great progress by focusing on manageable and practical communication goals.
If you have ever tried learning a new language you know that it is difficult (unless of course you are one of those gifted people that I am jealous of, who have few issues picking up new languages!) Sometimes, however, language learning is more confusing when certain basics translate entirely differently from the English. Take for example telling time.
If you look at this clock, and English is your native language, you would immediately say it is 12:30. However, in Dutch you would say it is half één (half one). This, as you can imagine, leads to confusion at times for English speakers -- and it is easy to get the wrong appointment time! If you hear half one, your mind immediately thinks of 1:30 not 12:30.
We currently are working on being able to say the time, and know what time is said during every Dutch lesson. We have a clock that can change hands to different positions, and we take turns saying the correct time. The participants also practice moving the hands to the correct position when they hear the time said. Learning a language takes practice, and the more practice the ladies get, the better they become, and the more natural it is to hear and speak the language correctly. Soon hearing the words “het is tien voor half drie” (2:20) will no longer cause any pause to think!