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Learning Dutch

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Being able to express one’s self is everything. You get to say what you want – your thoughts and feelings and joys and pains. Language is everything.

Going to another country for a holiday could be a very enjoyable event. It gives you a different impression of things and makes you realize that the world is a big place where there are many places to see, people to meet and a lot of differences and similarities between cultures.

But going to another country to live is a different thing. Especially when that country uses another language compared to what one already knows and when it has a different system compared to the country where one has been living in all his or her life.

I have always enjoyed travelling and my job as a journalist in the Philippines gives me that perk. I take pleasure in knowing about the diversity in cultures and languages. But learning a new language to be used as a mother tongue is just a whole new undertaking for me. It is like getting a new mother tongue all over again.

Learning the Dutch language is not very easy. Like a child being taught how to talk for the first time, I am taking the same footsteps over and again. I try to build my vocabulary through a workbook, reading children’s books and watching televisie programs met Dutch ondertitels. Nijntje and Engy Bengy are currently mijn beste vrienden.

I try to speak Nederlands thuis met mijn vriend maar ik vind het Dutch grammatica moeilijk! I tried to speak with people at the winkelen and the markt but they end up talking to me in Engels when I say: “ik spreek een beetje Nederlands”. As the Dutch, trading for many years, are very well-known for their knowledge of the English language in this part of Europe.

Going on my fifth week in this country, people observed that I learn fast. The Dutch think that the most difficult aspect of learning the language is to master the G sound. Others think too (my brother felt a lump on his throat after practicing that sound too much), but that was the first sound I mastered.

Before mastering the grammatica however, I have to get used to the Dutch vowels first. In the Filipino language, we only have the A, E, I, O and U sounds. But with the Dutch language, there is the A (pak) and the AA (kaas), the E (mes) and the EE (veel), the O (toch) and the OO (rood), the U (bus) and the UU (muur), the I (zitten) and the IE (lied), the EU (leuk) and the OE (vroeg) sounds. Whew! That is certainly a lot for the 5-vowel Filipino tongue! #

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