Learning Dutch is extremely frustrating. Breakthroughs are few and far between. In reading Geert Mak's prose, I not only look up words, but research them. If something is not in the NL/E dictionary, I check the Van Dale. If it's not there, I go on to Google. Usually, I find something, which means going back through dictionaries to look up synonyms. In the densest sections, which are about religion and church politics, I have to do that with every word.
This has been so difficult that even when looking at looking at Google Nieuws Nederland I have often been unable to decipher anything.
Yesterday, I googled the term "dagblad," and looked at some random Dutch papers. I understood a lot more than the last time I did anything similar. For example, I could tell that GM wouldn't be selling Opel, but I couldn't tell why.
I also listened to Harold Biervliet on Canta America, and was able to understand a lot of what he said.
Knowing some context makes a huge difference. For example, the news surrounds us. I already am fairly familiar with Latin American music. By contrast, I started DE EEUW VAN MIJN VADER with very little prior knowledge of the Netherlands. Now, I'm in a section about the Dutch East Indies, a place about which I knew even less. Getting through background going back to the late 1800s was very difficult.
It was great having a minor breakthrough, which felt major. Understanding more of the written news along with Canta America was great.