An Inburgering Rant

How long can a girl go without writing about inburgering? Apparently too long! Though I had a bit of a sabbatical from classes (some may refer to it as milking my messed-up foot after falling back in the towards the end of March, I like to call it my sabbatical) don't be fooled. There is soooooo much going on in my inburgering world. Where shall I begin...

Thanks to my inability to walk down the steps without trying to kill myself, I have missed that 80% attendance necessary to have the courses paid for by the Gemeente. Turns out - as long as I don't fall down the steps again - my total bill is €270. Though I'm not thrilled at having to pay, €270 for a year's worth of classes and 3+ books is not bad. Not bad at all. Luckily, because it was a medical emergency/condition that caused me to miss so much, I get out of paying a fine. Whew! Lesson learned: if you don't want to pay a fine, fall down a flight of stairs.

Since we last spoke on this topic, I've also gotten a new contact persoon (also called trajectbegeleider - meaning advisor or, you guessed it, contact person). This is my third one since beginning this process less than a year ago - living proof of what I noted in my most recent Next Steps column:
 " will be assigned a trajectbegeleider, which is an advisor of sorts that will be there for you throughout your year of inburgering. Until she goes on maternity leave, at which point you will get a new one who will inexplicably vanish. He will be replaced by someone who will eventually change jobs, this replacement will be more or less useless, forcing you to request someone else who will eventually become ill, leaving you with yet another trajectbegeleider."
I must say, this one's my favorite. Unlike my first one, she knows what she's talking about. Unlike my second, this one's not trying to be my mother. In fact, I just found out today (my first meeting with her) that we were born in the same year! She's very meticulous with taking notes and everything she had promised to prepare for our meeting, she had actually taken care of. Only if you have dealt with anyone employed by the government do you know how rare this is.

Since we last talked, I've traded in my speaking group for a writing group. Now every Thursday evening, I go to the Gemeente building for two hours and work on writing in Dutch. For my first class, I was put in the wrong level, so there was a period where I couldn't go to the group because I had to get an official letter from the leader of my new writing group to invite me into that group. It's this kind of thing that just drives me bonkers. As soon as I've had a session or two in my new writing group, I'll be back to post a little about it.

Here comes the "Rant" part. I go to class three days a week and over those three days I have two teachers: one for two days of the week and one for the third day. Our one-day teacher is magnificent. She's so excited about her profession and about her students and what she teaches. It is important to her that we clearly understand what is being taught. Always above and beyond what's in the textbook, she expects lots from us and always has something extra to add. If there's a concept we continually get wrong, she drills it with us and finds new ways to explain it until we understand.

The two-day teacher is so boring and too structured. She has every second of every lesson planned out. That means no time for drilling, no time for explanation, no time for questions. Conversations are always going on while she's teaching and she does nothing to quiet them. Homework assignments are handled in one of two ways: A) we never go over them or look at them again or B) we do the entire assignment all over again in class the next day. On Fridays, she has an assistant. An assistant who is always correcting her. Because she doesn't know what she's talking about much of the time. In the time that I missed class because of my foot, I had so much catching up to do for Mevrouw One-Day and missed nothing with Mevrouw Two-Day (I kept up with bookwork while I was out).

This, of course, has sparked a new trend among my classmates. I call it "The Mass Exitus." In short, this is when each student does what he or she can to 'get the hell outta Dodge.' For many, this means taking the NT2 (the Dutch as a second language test also known as the Staatsexamen) early so they can finish the classes early. Some have been very successful at weaseling their way to two-day weeks instead of three (oh do I envy these people). In my case, ending classes early means having to pay a fine, plus the €270 for the classes, plus the €90 out of pocket fee to take the NT2 (Gemeente Utrecht covers this cost if you complete the inburgeringscurses). I'm sure negotiating shorter school weeks would mean a fine and the class fee. I didn't bother to confirm that though.

My other option is to complain. To the teacher or to the school, doesn't matter. A friend and classmate informed me that she had already tried talking to Mevrouw Two-Day back in November. As you can see, that's done a lot of good (NOT!!). I'm afraid that complaining will do one of three things: she could make my life miserable for the duration of my time at the school because I insinuated that she was a crappy teacher; she could make my life miserable for the duration of my time at the school because I insinuated to her boss behind her back that she was a crappy teacher; or I would just be wasting my breath either way. To top it all off, I actually like this lady. I know you probably won't believe that after what you've read so far in this post, but I do. She's very lovely and very nice. But, like I keep telling myself, nice people don't always make good teachers.

Now it's your turn to rant! I know I'm not the only one going through this right now. How is the process going for you?