Dutch Project Notes #6: Progress!

I’m quite excited about my Dutch. I still have the goal of a B2 level in my passive skills by the end of the month (I’ll settle for a high B1 in active skills), and I think I could get there. I’ve been on a pretty strict Dutch regimen, and out of all of my languages that I’m actively studying, Dutch gets the most of my time. I’ve been reading almost every day, listening actively for a good half hour each day, using Duolingo, and talking occasionally with my conversation partner. And things are going well!

I think Duolingo has given my vocabulary a push (I still don’t think that Duolingo is an efficient tool on its own, but when added to a rigorous study plan, it’s nice to have). I’m a little over halfway through my skills tree, and Duolingo is covering a lot of vocab and basic grammar that I was familiar with, through reading and listening, but had never sat down to actually digest. I feel like it’s plugging up holes in my knowledge, and it’s a very tangible sense of progress.

I just finished Sjakie en de chocoladefabriek for the second time, and my reading level has really improved. The first time through, I was mostly picking out the words I knew and depending heavily on context to figure out what was going one. This time through, the language almost seemed easy, especially compared to my other reading material (Alleen op de wereld (an older Dutch children’s book (I think) and the New Testament). After I finished it, I thought I’d return to Alleen op de wereld or even my Dutch translation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (both in the public domain on my Kindle), but I decided instead to revisit Harry Potter en de steen der wijzen. All I can say is… wow! That book was nearly incomprehensible to me the first time through– again, I was picking out words, sometimes getting a phrase or a sentence, and I was happy with that. Now I’ve reached the stage where I can pick out the words I don’t know, because I recognize a majority of the words and understand a majority of the grammar.

All of this reading and Duolingo has been helping with the listening comprehension front, as well. I’ve noticed that Jeugdjournaal is becoming a lot clearer. Again, I’m understanding phrases and full sentences (with a lot of incomprehensible garble in-between :)), so this is making me feel pretty good. I get so used to listening to languages that I don’t understand that it’s really exciting to finally be able to make out certain things. I still have a hard time with general radio listening, however, but I think that will come soon.

This rapid jump in progress has really motivated me, so stay tuned as I barrel onwards toward the end of the month!

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2 thoughts on “Dutch Project Notes #6: Progress!

  1. It’s great to hear that you are enjoying the Dutch learning, and I also think it is admirable that you are focusing on the positives with your language ability. I have to admit that my attention tends to go towards all the things I specifically can’t do in a language, rather than celebrating what I actually can indeed do. It’s something I am working on! It is also great to hear that you’re having fun with Duolingo and that it is helping you to understand the books that you read. I also found Duolingo is a fantastic resource for this 🙂

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    1. Thanks for commenting! I think I’m able to be more optimistic because I’m not in an environment in which my Dutch knowledge matters, if that makes sense. Dutch is completely a hobby for me, and I don’t have any immediate plans for moving or traveling to a Dutch-speaking country. So, I can enjoy my progress without having to feel bad about what I can’t understand or say yet. I’m a bit harder on myself with Spanish, because there are a lot of Spanish speakers where I live, and I often feel like I can’t do as much as I’d like. But, I really do actively try to think about my abilities in a language, rather than where I’m lacking.

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