Everyone who lives in the Netherlands knows that the ability to speak Dutch has many benefits, ranging from independence, through a greater selection of job offers, to better relations with Dutch people. Everybody would like to know Dutch, but only a few are willing to put the time and effort to learn Dutch. We often put off learning Dutch for better times or wait until we get a course from the employer. However, even a Dutch course is not a guarantee of learning this language. In fact everything is in the hands of the learner himself. Even the best teacher can’t teach Dutch, he can help at most. Dutch, just like any foreign language, we really need to learn ourselves.
Why? Because learning takes time and requires repetition. If you don’t repeat the information you learned during the lesson, you will never remember it.
According to an estimate made by Foreign Service Institute it takes around 600h for an English speaker to speak Dutch fluently, and 90 hours to master the basics. In comparison a one round of a Dutch course is only 40h, so nearly not enough.
The only solution is tu put in your own work and effort. On the positive sides, when it comes to learning a language, honest work always bring good results. In the beginning it may seem like baby steps, but even baby steps can get your far if you make a lot of them!
In this article you will find five specific tips to help you learn Dutch, whether you are attending a course or trying to learn Dutch by yourself.
It takes time to learn a language. Dutch is not the most difficult language, but it’s also not the easiest. Also, speaking will not happen overnight. First, you will have to focus on listening and reading to get a feel of the language and learn enough vocabulary and grammar to actually express yourself in Dutch. Moreover, be prepared that in the beginning your language skills will equal the skills of a 5-year-old Dutch kid, and your pronunciation will be horrible.
At the beginning you will learn numbers, days of the week, months and simple expressions from everyday life. Conversations with Dutch will be possible, but only if they speak slowly and clearly. You will still make mistakes and you will lack vocabulary. But don’t be frustrated and don’t give up, because this is normal. If after a few months of learning you can carry out a simple conversation, you can consider it a success. You already have a solid foundation of the language on which you can build.
If you attend a course, you have classes once or twice a week. This is not enough to learn a language. No way. In fact, you need to go through your notes every day, repeat the words and phrases, conduct a conversation in Dutch or watch a short video in Dutch on YouTube. There are many possibilities and each of them will bear fruit in the future. There are no magic ways to learn a language, there is only one way: 15 minutes a day, every day. There are many ways, so it’s up to you to find out what works best for you.
There are multiple free internet resources to help you learn Dutch step by step from scratch. Some of them include Duolingo platform, NT2 Taalmenu, Oefenen.nl, and a YouTube channel Woord voor Woord. You can also watch Dutch TV on the internet.
People pay a lot of money to go to a language course in a given country. You are lucky that you are here and everyone around you speaks Dutch. So take advantage of this. Ask your Dutch colleagues questions, or ask them to teach you something. If you can, watch Dutch TV, or try to read online articles. At the beginning, the best to learn are Dutch commercials, because they are short and easy to understand. Soon you will be able to understand spoken Dutch better and start building your own language competence.
Don’t be afraid to speak. Don’t wait until you know Dutch better, because if you never start speaking, this moment will never come. Speaking in a given language is also a physical activity. The muscles of your speech apparatus (tongue and mouth) must also learn it. As with any physical exercise, practice makes perfect, so speak. You can start by talking to yourself, then feel more confident when talking to other people.
In your surroundings or city there are certainly people in the same situation as you. Consequently many expat or charity organizations organize meetings in which foreigners can practice Dutch in a safe environment. For example, The Hub Eindhoven organizes open Dutch conversations. The Eindhoven library organizes a Taalcafe. Many charity organizations such as Meedoen in de Wijken or Humanitas can help you find a taalmatje, a person you will be able to meet with from time to time and just talk to her in Dutch. You can click on our links or just Google “taalcafe” or “taalmatje” in a place where you live.
When you live in the Netherlands, you really have many opportunities to learn a language. You will need to spend some free time on it and put some effort into it, search the Internet, write an e-mail, make a few calls and leave your home after work . We guarantee, however, that none of your efforts will be wasted and any time spent on learning will somehow bring you closer to speaking Dutch. It’s up to you whether sooner or later.