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Stack of Books
Posted on Monday 28 January 2008 at 11:26 am

Dutch, Dutch, Dutch, Dutch, Dutch

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This weekend I cleaned my house. As in I reorganized and rearranged all my books and movies and dusted and scrubbed every surface from the floor on up. My apartment is now cleaner than it has ever been since I moved in. It's a rather nice feeling. I'm not 100% certain why I decided to clean so thoroughly. I started out with the desire to clean up all the papers scattered around my desk so I'd have a clean work and organized workstation. It just kind of avalanched from there and I couldn't stop myself.

Now that everything is clean, I'm getting to work on the reason why I needed a clean and organized workstation. I'm learning Dutch! I decided on Friday that I really needed to get serious about this so I tried searching the William and Mary online catalog to see what kind of Dutch grammar and vocabulary books the library might have. I turned up two or three books, none of which were of much use at all. So I sent an IM to the reference librarians. I wish I could have seen the face of the one who got my message of "I'm a history PhD student and I need to learn Dutch for my research. What kind of resources does the library have to help me?" The initial response was "Let me search for a bit and get back to you." We IMed for a bit about what I'd found and about what the librarian was able to find (the same not much I'd discovered on my own). Then the research librarian tried searching the regional system of which W&M is a part. Jackpot! The Williamsburg Public Library has online access to every Rosetta Stone program. This is the best language learning software out there and usually costs over $300 per language and I have free access to over 30 different languages. How cool is that!?

I've completed most of the exercises for Dutch Unit 1, Lessons 1, 2, and 3. Obviously I'm still just beginning, but I'm getting there and I feel like this system may work well for me. There are a few times when I'm trying to think beyond where they want me to be so I have lots of questions and confuse myself. I'm going to buy a Dutch grammar book to answer those questions but I'm mostly just going to try going through this program. There are 19 units and each unit has multiple lessons so it is going to take quite some time but I'll get there.

I only have one major problem with the system so far. In each lesson, there are multiple types of exercises you can do. You can focus on listening and reading together, just listening, just reading, speaking, or writing. For the speaking part, a recorded voice says a phrase, you repeat the phrase into a microphone, and a voice print analysis tells you how close you got to the sound of the native speaker. I fail every time. There are some letters, especially g, that I know I'm not pronouncing correctly. But some words I think I'm saying dead on the way it should be and I'm still failing. Since I have access to basically all the Rosetta Stone language programs, I opened up the one for learning US English and did the speaking exercises for the very first lesson. I failed all those as well. I can't say a boy, a girl, a cat, or a dog the way a native English speaker would. Knowing that made me feel somewhat better about the speaking Dutch bit. I guess I'll just have to trust my ear and perhaps pester the professor at W&M that speaks Dutch to get some help on the g's.

For now I'm off to finish up lesson 3 (if the stupid interface would stop freezing up) and then I'll have to get to work on writing my lecture for my class tomorrow. I'll keep y'all updated as to my Dutch progress.
Feeling: Chipper
Exploring: Desk
Listening: Dutch words


What's Taters, Precious?
mrstater at 6:15 pm on 28 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
I'm incredibly impressed that you're teaching yourself a language. Good luck with the pronunciation! I'm cracking up a bout the failing the English, too. I don't even want to know how badly I'd do, considering Mr. Tater and I were arguing about the pronunciation of grease and greasy the other night....
bratty_jedi at 6:25 pm on 28 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
There are lots of words that people say differently and I could see me failing on some of those but I don't see what's so difficult about boy, girl, cat, and dog. I really do know how to say those!
littlepixiechic at 11:12 pm on 28 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
It's so cool that you're teaching yourself Dutch and I'm super jealous about you having access to all that Rosetta Stone stuff!

Also, I wouldn't worry too much about the speaking and I do understand your frustration. When I had my phonetica class in Russia it was basically two hours of us repeating exactly what the professor said, exactly the way she said it, and her telling us that we were wrong and our tongues weren't in the correct place. I think it's really funny that you don't sound like a native English speaker according to the program:)
bratty_jedi at 2:38 pm on 29 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
Rosetta Stone is seriously awesome!

Doesn't Russian have a lot of sounds in it that just don't exist in the English language? In Dutch, I know for sure that g's are going to be very difficult to get. Every time I learn a new word with a g in it I just sit there thinking "How'd that go again?" with no clue how to pronounce it. It is somewhat guttural and the professor I spoke with said when she first learned Dutch she'd have a soar throat all the time until she built up calluses. Rs are also somewhat difficult just because I'm not used to rolling them but I can roll them and know that's what I'm supposed to be doing so I just need to practice. Everything else isn't all that weird as far as I can tell. But what do I know since I can't even speak my own language? ;)
(Anonymous) at 12:16 pm on 31 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
Hi! It's really cool that you're learning Dutch! I'm Belgian and it's my first language.
I have heard that it's quite a difficult language to learn, especially the spelling of plurals etc?
Also, I hope I'm not freaking you out by coming to your journal anonymously, but I don't have an LJ account and I sometimes browse the R/T community a bit. When I saw your post about Dutch my interest was piqued :)
Nog veel succes met het Nederlands! ;)
I hope you understood that ;)
(Anonymous) at 12:19 pm on 31 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
I forgot to tell you my name
I'm Gitte ;) try pronouning that LOL
bratty_jedi at 5:24 am on 04 February 2008 (UTC) (Link)

You're not freaking me out at all. I'm glad you dropped in to say hello. Since you're not signed in and won't get an email alert, I hope you get this reply.

It's great that you like the R/T stories and community. There is some great stuff here on LJ. I've been kind of out of it lately, but I'm trying to get back in.

I'm slowly getting there with the Dutch. I've only been working on it for about a week. The plural spelling stuff is a bit odd. I think I'm having some trouble figuring out pronouns here and there. I don't have a grammar rule book yet. I've ordered one and it is on the way so hopefully that'll help.

Nog veel succes met het Nederlands! ;)
I hope you understood that ;)

Something about having much success with Dutch?
(Anonymous) at 4:01 pm on 04 February 2008 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, it was: a lot of success with Dutch (in the future), not literally translated.
Hang in there ;)

Oh, and I've read some of your stories, and I really liked them. Don't give up writing :)


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