Dutch update: 85hrs

So, at the end of 3 weeks of studying Dutch full-time, I’m at 85.5 hours total (split 9.5 / 33 / 43 by week), and I’ve read somewhere around 400000 words. Currently I’m in that nebulous “intermediate” area, where it’s hard to judge progress, so I just have to keep pushing. My sense is that my vocabulary is still increasing, but I’m not yet at that nice pleasant “easy reading” phase, which probably occurs when you know over 98% of the words on the page. Those last few percent take a lot longer to get, but they’re pretty important if you want to feel really comfortable when reading.

I’ve ramped up my study hours greatly over the past few days. Yesterday I put in 8 hours, and had 10 hours the day before, and I plan to do the same again today still. It’s definitely a new skill to learn, getting in that many hours in the day. I try to split them up throughout the day, aiming at 2hrs out of every block of 4 (since my day is divided into 4hr segments by my nap schedule). So far, though, I’ve had several small chunks and one or two much larger chunks of consecutive study time.

Currently, I still get somewhat lost when listening to something without reading along. Harry Potter is easier than other things, because I’m used to it and I know the story, but in other things I only get a rough impression of what’s going on if it’s something totally new.

Despite my complaints above, about not being totally perfect at reading yet, I’m actually pretty decent at reading Dutch now. The impatience is probably due to my extensive German reading skills that create a large contrast. When I honestly evaluate my Dutch skills though, I have to feel pretty good. For example, I can read Wikipedia pretty well in Dutch now. I just read the article on Paleontology without too many problems. Definitely enough to get informed about a topic, although like I said, still not with the ease that I can read German. There are still many words per page that I don’t know.

My goal for the coming week is to get 10 hours of study time every day, devoted to Listening-Reading. Currently I’m going over each chapter at least twice, trying to recognize as many new words as I can, and I’m trying hard to focus on the sounds of the words as I hear them, so that I don’t get too stuck on just reading off the page. I’m hoping to build more intuitive familiarity with the language, and get those last few stubborn percent of vocabulary words.

Once my recognition is higher, I’m going to move on to the activating stage of L-R, where I listen and try to repeat any recognized phrases. In this stage, you don’t want to read those phrases out of the book; the goal is to repeat the ones that you heard, and fully understood.

Before I attempt this, I’ll spend some time working on specific aspects of pronunciation. To do this, I’ll cut out single sentences from some recordings, and then listen to them about 50 times until they’re stuck in my head like a Michael Jackson song. Then I’ll start repeating along with the recording, repeating up to 50 times each in order to really cement the sounds in my mind.

Anyway, that’s still another week away at least, so I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. The next week is still strongly devoted to listening and reading recognition skills, hopefully getting my reading skills up near C1 if I can.

Next update at 120 hours 🙂


3 Responses to Dutch update: 85hrs

  1. Oasis88 says:

    I absolutely agree with you regarding the 98% mark for “fluent” reading. I’ve been tracking my known word count for a lot of reading and can testify to what you’ve said.

    I’m half way through Harry Potter my reading accuracy started at around 89% and now it’s somewhere between 92-95% (this is after 320 hours of learning Italian – I suspect your figures are already this high after only 85 hours due to your strong German reading abilities, but I could be wrong). This last figure looks high, but it’s still slow going at times. I seem to fly through conversations and some basic description paragraphs, but at other times it comes to a bit of a halt with anywhere up to 20-30 unknown words per page. One of my mini-goals that I’ve had for a while is to get my reading accuracy up to 98% — so I’m glad that you concur 🙂

    Good to see you getting your sleep under control and getting productive with your time. Well done.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vera Surkova, Pete Lypkie. Pete Lypkie said: Dutch update: 85hrs: http://wp.me/psO8l-a2 […]

  3. Andrew says:

    I’m really relieved to read about how you plan on going about learning to speak and pronounce properly: one of my biggest concerns about this widely-touted method of massive input first and only is that you don’t learn to actually speak, but your remedy for that sounds like it would be very effective. It seems to be me who’s at fault for not fully researching what exactly goes into this method before pronouncing judgment on it.

    I have yet to receive my Spanish translation of “The Bourne Identity”, I think I’m going to have to cancel my order and buy it from someone else (I ordered it through a used book seller on Amazon, it’s been 3 weeks, so I’m quite perturbed at this point that it hasn’t arrived).


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