It has been a while… and 2017 is nearing it’s inevitable demise. It has been a strange year living as an expat for the dyspraxic chef; and I have not been in the kitchen as much as I would have like to have been. I will return to the kitchen soon and hopefully the end product will be tastier than ever before.
For now…Living as an Expat
The topic I wanted to share was living as an expat and specifically learning a new language. The lingo I am trying to get my tongue twisted around is Dutch. I have lived in the Netherlands a little over two years and baring the odd session on Duolingo or Lingohut, I have not really got on anywhere in terms of language building.
Living with dyspraxia and living as an expat throws up all manner of challenges. Coming from England most of the challenges you face living as an expat are made easy in the Netherlands. 99% of people speak English and are rightly proud of the fact they can. This is both positive and negative, it is easy to get by but it is almost too easy.
The best way to learn dutch
A year ago or so, I applied for the free dutch classes that were available and waited for the course to start. Before the classes were to start, there was of course a process to go through. As is the case with most things when living as an expat.
Meeting to collect documents and take names: At this stage I mentioned Dyspraxia.
Learning test to decide which group I would go in (fast or slow).
I asked to go in the slow group but the test I completed misrepresented my learning ability and I was put in the faster learning group. This may sound stupid but this was the first test I wish I had done worse at; a short test is not representative of what would be a 3 hour lesson, twice a week.
I explained the dyspraxia situation and that a smaller group where the pace would be slower would be more suitable; but due to being University educated and a few good guesses on a test; it was the top group for me.
I was, however, determined to have a go so I took it in my stride and awaited the next step.
Sign a contract.
Start the classes: I tried my best to explain dyspraxia and the issues I, like many other dyspraxic’s, face when it comes to learning something new; even providing documentation provided by the Dyspraxia Foundation. There are two teachers and both were understanding about it, in fact, one of them spoke of how his brother had been considered as having processing/sensory issues that sounded a lot like dyspraxia.
Back to school: Dutch Lessons
I try to attend each class with a positive outlook but that dissipates fairly quickly. The first few classes I managed to sort of keep up, but by the second half of the class, if not the second half of the first half; I was done.
Despite this, the classes are full of people who have varying levels of ability and they take place twice a week for three hours a time. A part of me screams ‘what where you thinking?’ but a much larger part screams ‘it’s no reason not to give it a go’.
The matter has and is causing anxiety. I have missed a few classes due to working away which admittedly did not help the situation. Where I stand now is trying to catch up in my own time, which has its own challenges, and attempting to communicate with the school about the best way I can learn dutch moving forward.
The current set up is not productive at all. I fail to see how it can be for anybody else in the room either. The classrooms are outdated with bright lights and we spend most of the time nose deep into a text book. It is an understatement to say I have an issue with learning things, but there is a right and wrong way of learning. The teacher lamented that in his other classes, the students have access to computers. We are almost in the third decade of the 21st century and there is still so much we can learn about learning. I know that text books and bad lighting is not the way to go; I’d have just as much chance learning from slate.
More to say
I could go on about various aspects of the lessons. The stress, anxiety and general morale crushing process that it has at times felt like, but if you have any experience of learning with dyspraxia or of being around those that have, you will be able to fill in the blanks.
It is not all bad though, I occasionally understand what is happening in the class, and that makes all the difference, for that moment,.It makes me want to carry on. Like when golfers say they can spend hours swinging to hit barely anything but then they hit one sweet shot, that makes chase that thrill time again.
Don’t give in
I do not want to put fellow dyspraxic’s off learning a language. There are other neurological conditions at play for one; which is often the case with dyspraxia. I will not be giving up learning the lingo any time soon. If anything it has made me more determined to learn and to continue to ask questions about dyspraxia.