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Woensdag, wij leren Nederlands!

18 Nov

“Wednesday, we learn the Dutch language!” (Nederland is the country, Nederlands is the taal, or language, as I’ve just learned.)

So the 5 Dutch Days in New York has begun, conversational-immersion style. Last night I went to a class at Columbia Unversity’s Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, on Amsterdam Avenue.…and the department’s site, by the way, has an interesting list of links to Dutch-related Web sites. Twenty or so people attended. The animated conversations at the little wine and cheese reception afterward seemed a testament to how well the class went.

It was a class “for absolute beginners.” But Wijnie de Groot, the department’s lecturer in Dutch, quickly had us speaking entire (simple!) sentences in a question-and-response repetition person by person, around the room. On the one hand, it’s a sort of no-mercy approach — little to no respite into English; on the other hand, Wijnie’s warm and encouraging style made it okay to stumble through, feel lost, and then regain the flow. Continue reading