24 February, 2010

Introduction Roundup

I thought I would wait to post again until after I had finished with the four introduction sessions at the Ttif Company, but now it is somewhat fresh in my mind so I'll outline what went on.

Lesson 1: I pretty much covered it all in my last post, so I'll skip on to lesson 2....

Lesson 2: I was so busy right at the moment I had to leave work that I was almost late and forgot my notebook and pen. I was hoping I would be able to get away with it because the previous lesson needed nothing from me, but NO! We were all given a sheet with a list of questions, then put into pairs to ask said questions. My partner was the Lovely Raschida from Morocco (one of two Raschidas from Morocco in my class if you would believe me), and we were both pretty nervous. We had questions like where do you come from, do you have children, do you work, what are you doing on your summer vacation, and the most difficult question: Waar houd je helemaal niet van? Nobody seemed to be able to answer this question. I certainly couldn't understand the verb... I asked my neighbour and her sheet read "katten" which didn't make me any the wiser. We asked the teacher, who explained that it means what do we really dislike - hate, if you will. Then it clicked. Ik hou van Maarten, or ik houd helamaal niet van voetbal (I hate soccer).

Then we had a break. Mind you, the class had been running for 35 minutes at this point so we were all in desperate need of some time out. A break for 20 minutes, no less!

Once we came back to the class we discussed the Ttif Company House Rules (as in keep the toilet and coffee area clean), and finally how we can claim back travel expenses if we take the bus or train. Unfortunately those of us who will travel by bicycle are entitle to no recourse. Oh well, I'll have a healthy heart instead.

Lesson 3: We were given a handout which describes the inburgering examen, and then the teacher discussed what is expected and how it all works. Finally! After two years of waiting, two meetings with the Gemeente and two lessons all about inburgering, we actually found out what is expected at the end of the course!

The teacher kept telling us that we shouldn't think about the inburgering examen right now and that we should just focus on learning Dutch, but let's face it. More than half of the class I was in have been living in the Netherlands for more than 5 years. Some for almost 20! They clearly speak fluent Dutch and are only in the class to pass the A2/A1 level that is compulsory as an oudkomer. In my honest view, the lessons ans fluency are just a by-product of passing the exam, which is split into the following three options:

  1. The practical exam. This means that you will need to obtain 30 signatures from people in specific departments, positions of authority or local business that attest to your ability to converse with them in Dutch. This involves processes like making a police report, opening a new bank account, changing your address at the local council etc. The teacher went into no details though, nor did she provide any examples. She merely pointed to a folder with a previous student's work.
  2. The assessments. You may choose not to go down the portfolio path, and opt for taking 6 assessments instead. This is done in an exam type situation where you take part in a series of role plays that are similar to the scenarios that you would have to undertake if you were completing the portfolio option. You would have three hours to complete the exam and this is held only in Amsterdam. The teacher stressed that this is not an option for everyone. Most students opt to complete the portfolio (which sends me into fits of panic just thinking about it), but depending on your level and whether your teacher agrees, you may take the assessment option. Basically, it is only for the best students.
  3. The combination. This is a hybrid of both options. You may complete 15 portfolio items and complete 3 assessments in the exam environment. It was not clear if you are given a large list of scenarios to obtain signatures for in your portfolio, or if you have only 15/30 and you must get them all signed off.
When I understand more, I will elaborate.

Then it was break time again for 20 minutes.

After the break, we played a game called Rondje Nederland. It is a game specifically developed for students of the inburgering curses, which could be very handy! It covers history, cities and provinces, culture etc. Much like Ik Hou van Holland, but more specific.

Lesson 4: This class was held completely independently on their custom computer system "Nieuweburen". We were all given logins and were left to our own devices. It's an online lesson system very similar to the course book "Nederlands voor Buitenlanders" and you watch a video then answer questions. The best part was that the system is all 100% online, so it can be used at home. The worst part is that the software is so old that it is not possible to use on either my work or home computer.

I discussed my future classes briefly with the teacher, and because I am yet to do the language level test (tomorrow!) (I have now done the test, see my new post The Entrance Exam), they do not know which class I should go into as yet. In the meantime I should begin learning by using the online program which I find is not possible.

All in all, when I look back at the four classes that I took time out of work specifically to attend, I feel they could (read: should) have been condensed into to two blocks. A class never lasted the full two hours and the time could have been used in a much more efficient manner.

I do feel better for knowing slightly more about the inburgering examen at the end and knowing that I can begin the portfolio almost immediately if I choose to follow that path.

Next stop: language test tomorrow at the Geldergroep here in Almere. Cross your fingers.

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