I've hinted at this before, but I'll just say it. I have linguistic ambitions. On my "bucket list" there is the line that reads "learn at least 4 languages to or past the B2 point." While it's true that my French isn't perfect, it has arrived at the B2 level of fluency and continues to move slowly past it, into the C-levels. My brain seems to be chugging along with it, doing what brains are designed to do and getting better largely on it's own via observation, pattern retention etc. All I have to do is challenge it now and then by not avoiding French, reading more complex literary materials, and asking questions now and then to clear up things that confuse me (all of these things are fairly easy to do here.)
So there. I've now got two languages, and need at least two more.
Now, lets talk about Dutch for a moment. It's similar to English in some respects, and easier to sort out (to me, at least,) than German (since the Dutch don't have the habit of mushing several words together to form one mega-word.) Mind you, rather like German when it comes to grammar it seems you must speak like Yoda if you'd like your sentence structure to be correct. While many people tell me German would ultimately be a more 'practical language' to try and learn, I have the feeling that if I tackle Dutch first, German might become more accessible, much in the same way Spanish vocabulary and grammatical concepts seem to have become easier to grasp as my French has improved.
I've been trying very casually to improve my Dutch here, because it really would be useful to me to have more solid 'notions' of it. Since I'm in a country where Dutch is used in daily life in the Northern half of the country, and is easily tuned into on several TV channels, and since the Netherlands is the country right next door, it's not like I'm very far away from any opportunity to practice. And practice connected to real-life is what makes a language really "stick", at least for me.
Along with my sparsely exposing myself to internet podcasts like "Laura speaks Dutch", and using an online lesson scheme, (provided free by the Belgian government!) I've finally discovered something in my own home that seems to help, and is easy to do. Dora the explorer. While it's true that Dora makes me want to bash my head repeatedly against a wall when I see it in English, it's actually quite helpful to watch in whatever languages you only have basic notions of. It's very illustrative, clear, and repetitive using small variations on the themes in each episode. My Dutch is so weak that I have a feeling it will be quite some time before I outgrow Dora, but I've decided to try and commit to watching her in Dutch whenever I have the chance.
Interestingly enough, there is a show that comes on after Dora that teaches Dutch children basic Chinese concepts. I suppose if I graduate from the school of Dora I can move on to this show and keep on with regular exposure to Dutch while picking up a few Chinese basics?
Now, if I could just find a similar show to help compliment my slow internet learnings in Spanish. Are there even Spanish channels in Belgium? I know we have a few Italian ones, but I don't recall passing any Spanish ones.
So there. I've gradually arrived at the decision that I'll be going after Spanish and Dutch to meet this "Bucket List" desire. I feel good about the choice, it seems to make sense for me and to align well with other ambitions and interests of mine. I'm not sure I'll ever arrive at the point of fluency I'd like with either of them, but you never know unless you try, right?
Anyone know of a place (online or on TV) where I might be able to find full episodes of "Dora la Exploradora"?