Had my first Dutch lesson this week. Three hours on a Wednesday night. On approach I wasn't sure if it was going to be "immersion" like I did for Spanish in Argentina where the teacher speaks nothing but v-e-r-y sl-o-wly in the language being taught and uses lots of drawings on the board and mimes to get to you started. This is a pretty good method for an international school where you can't assume what people's first language will be, and it worked pretty well to force me to listen and speak early on.
But I wondered if that would be torture for Dutch, with all those guttural sounds and weird hooting consonants. But no, she did the introductions and started the lessons in English. I felt like I was cheating, because apart from me the other students are from Spain, Bulgaria, Russia, China and Portugal! All with English as a second language. Amsterdam really is an international city, I guess.
So it all went ok, you can totally see the links to English - the word for verb is "werkwoord" - i.e "work-word". I pay pretty close attention to this stuff as I seem to spend half my professional life teaching English speakers to use their own verbs correctly.
But on the subject of verbs , I had a somewhat wistful moment on the way home from class. (10 pm, drizzling, cold). In Spanish some of the very the first verbs I learned were cantar, bailar and gustar - "to dance" "to sing" and "to be pleased by". Oh yeah, and desayunar "to have breakfast". We did a quick starter session on regular verbs in Dutch class too. The group was asked which ones they had heard or picked up. And what were they ? Werken, eten, drinken, slapen. "work, drink, eat, sleep." Er, what was that about language reflecting culture?
(Although pretty much the first Dutch noun I've learned both prior to and during class is fiets, bike, which is kind of cool.)