Language Lab Final Session

OK, so this language lab thing seemed like a good idea at the beginning of Zoé’s exchange 😉
In “real life” though, it turned out to be a little too time consuming. Besides that it simply wasn’t one of Zoé’s goals to become super fluent in Dutch. She wanted to become better at understanding and speaking the language, but doing well at school, sightseeing and having an enjoyable social life had higher priorities than language lab sessions at home. And who could blame her 😉

We didn’t want to leave it at just that though, so we prepared a final language lab posting to give you an idea of the progress she’s made these past four months. So I recorded Zoé about two weeks ago while she was reading us one of the Sinterklaas poems she received. She didn’t know she was being recorded, so it was quite spontaneous. We also recorded a final reading session today from the children’s book we used in the first language labs. And last but not least we’ll share with you a small part of a presentation that Zoé prepared for school and practiced at home yesterday. Enjoy!


Language Lab, part 2

The first recording below is from the second “Language Lab” session we did since Zoé’s staying with us. It was taped on the 10th of September and is related to our The Wall posting, because we asked Zoé to talk about the concert in her own words.

And of course we couldn’t keep the next episode of the forest adventure from you any longer. Are you excited to hear it? 😀 By the way, there’s no video just like last time.

The Wall and beyond


A couple of times already Harald and I have said to each other that we should not forget that Zoé’s 18, but also “only” 18. She’s seen quite some stuff already in her short life, as you can imagine especially during her trips to Senegal. She’s familiar with discussing topics like war, famine, civil rights and seems to have thought well about her opinions on such issues. She’s also a very sensitive person, she feels how other people feel, she can get upset over a song because she can imagine the story told was sad or unfair. She is so grown up, but also such a child still.

Not only when it comes to having to do homework 😉 but also when we’re looking at planning your day, being realistic about how many activities will fit in a week and stuff like that can we tell Zoé’s “puppy syndrome” is still in full swing. We could have a scientific conversation about the adolescent brain, but we won’t 😉 . Sometimes her behaviour is touching and sometimes it’s pretty funny even.


As host parents we obviously want to share our home and interests. So one thing we love to share is the music we listen to. In the car on one of our trips about two weeks ago we talked about all of our music tastes and in particular about Pink Floyd and Roger Waters. Zoé told us her father also likes to listen to Pink Floyd, but she doesn’t know their music that well. We thought it would be nice to “educate” her a bit and had her sit through The Wall part 1 on the way to our appointment and The Wall part 2 on our way back home. Very uplifting and fun, don’t you think? 🙂

Still, even though Zoé was quite emotional and touched by the album, it didn’t scare her and she wanted to learn more about the stories behind it, the man who’d created the album, other songs written by him. We talked about it a lot and told her we had two tickets for The Wall concert in Amsterdam on Sunday the 9th of September. Harald and I had already discussed trying to get a ticket for Zoé too and when she turned out to be so enthusiastic, we decided to go for it. Although it was on such short notice, we were lucky to get another ticket, so we were very excited.


I’ll be honest with you tho. The way we got to know Zoé these past couple of weeks, I was a little scared to take her to The Wall. The album itself had touched her so much and I know from going to the show before how the visual effects of it can be very overwhelming. What if she came back utterly miserable and depressed?!

However, the biggest realisation of Zoé’s young age actually hit me during the show. I literally thought “Oh my, she’s 18 right? Right. Okay good. Wait, is this good?!”. I had totally forgotten about the sexually explicit images that are projected on the wall during the show. They’re all part of the story and partly known footage from the movie The Wall, but I was actually a little shocked that I hadn’t thought about this beforehand. We had talked about so many things concerning the show, the uniforms the musicians would wear at some parts, the nazi-like scenes, what they meant in this context and all other kinds of details. In the end I don’t think the sexual images shocked Zoé that much and fortunately it’s not like she’s a prude or anything. She even explained a French spoken part of footage that we hadn’t understood until she did. It wasn’t pretty either 😛 .

All in all this concert and the time we spent talking about it was a wonderful experience for all of us. For Zoé perhaps as a way to appreciate a project like The Wall even though the subject can be sad or overwhelming and for us as “new parents” to deal with a young person on the brink of adulthood (besides enjoying the show for the third time this tour :)). I hope we didn’t damage Zoé too much. She’s let us known several times that she really appreciates us for bringing her along so we’ll take her word on that 😉 .

Language Lab

One of Zoé’s primary exchange goals is learning the Dutch language as well as possible within four months. Even though she’ll immerse herself in the language and culture through school, we also try to help her as much as possible at home. We even intend to have at least two language sessions every week. One specifically for pronunciation and the other for grammar. Our very own “language lab” if you will. And the best part of such sessions is recording yourself and listening to it. It’s the worst thing obviously 😉 but lots of fun too and very educational.

The idea for the blog is that we’ll try and share Zoé’s progress on a regular basis. We’re very ambitious and will do our best to post videos or sound recordings every Monday. You read it: “try” and “do our best”. 😉 We do realise that all of this being in Dutch might not be very interesting to our international readers. Still we hope you’ll be able to hear differences and see changes in Zoé’s attitude maybe when listening to or watching our lab sessions the next couple of months.

So here we go. The following recording is Zoé’s final reading session during our first lab. We’re using a children’s book with very pretty drawings, which makes it more fun to read even. During such a session we record small parts of the story, listen to it again, talk about it and try to improve the pronunciation. What you hear is a recording of Zoé reading all of the sentences we practiced in this particular session in one go.

Although we’re using youtube, there’s no video there in this specific case. Maybe we’ll figure something out later for just recording sound, but for now it serves its purpose.

The second and last video for today is one of Zoé talking about her day in Dutch. We’re looking forward to sharing her progress with you and hope you’ll enjoy it with us. We’re very proud of her already 🙂 .