26 May, 2010

Hitting the Wall

So, it would seem that language-wise, I've hit a wall.  I've been hideously busy lately.  I swear, May is busier than the Christmas season!  So, with all of the public holidays, the school holidays and weekends away, my Dutch has stopped improving.

Last week was my first week back at school after about three weeks break, and my original class seems to have disappeared!  They are all either Geslaagd or have changed their schedules, or perhaps have just stopped turning up!  My class has also merged with another, so my nice cosy class with 10 people has jumped to 24!  I really enjoyed the intimacy of my old group - there was lots of one on one with the teacher and each other.  Now we are struggling to fit everyone in the room.  Don't get me wrong, the new group is also lovely - most of the students are people that were in my introductory classes way back at the beginning of this process, so I know them all.  I just miss my small group.

Because I've hit a wall and need to get over it, the obvious solution is practice practice practice!  It's just difficult to find the time and motivation right now.  Next week I'm back into the full swing of the classes, but that's only until we go on summer holidays in July.  I'm really hoping that I can keep the motivation going through the summer, but I feel the year slipping between my fingers in between preparing for the impending wedding, visiting abroad, having visitors from abroad, planning a wedding celebration here later in the year, going to concerts and festivals, and seemingly endless family parties and commitments!  Not to mention International Almere events that are potentially every week.  At least the upside is that I have no time to be lonely or miss living in Australia!

I did have a nice 'Up Yours' moment a couple of weeks ago at a family party.  I was managing ok talking in Dutch to a couple of elderly relatives (struggling a bit, but getting my point across) when Maarten piped up and mentioned that we rarely speak Dutch at home.  Cue the usual finger wagging and "You must talk Dutch" from one of the ladies.  Instead of staring gobsmacked with my mouth hanging open as I would usually do, I said politely that I work 40 hours and go to school two nights per week, so I and I do not want to have to work at home too, and Dutch is hard work for me.  Shut her right up.  I think the finger wagging seems to stem partly from ignorance.  I get the impression that for a lot of Dutch people, learning another language is just as easy as taking up a new hobby and if someone who is trying to learn their language but struggling is not doing enough or making a reasonable effort (I don't get this impression from everyone, of course!  I have a LOT of support from family and friends and I'm extraordinarily grateful).

How have you coped when you hit the proverbial language wall?  How do you manage to find the motivation again?  Or are you just always keeping it together and practicing everywhere you go?  Do you ever experience the finger wagging, or is it just me?

In the near future I have loads to discuss, more on the Exemption Test (congratulations to Connie for passing with flying colours!!), plus more bits on the course books and how my portfolio is going (in the sense of not at all).  I just have to find the time to fit it all in!!

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