Why study Dutch?
It is highly recommended to study Dutch if you intend to live in the Netherlands, stay for a lengthy period of time, or are simply visiting. But why study Dutch when everyone in the Netherlands speaks great English is the most frequent query from both Dutch people and visitors.
Honesty dictates that learning Dutch is not necessary at all. The Netherlands routinely ranks among the top non-native English speaking nations because its citizens are among the finest in the world at speaking the language.
But it makes sense that the Dutch continue to have a strong affinity for their own tongue. A Dutchie is happy to converse with you in English, but they usually feel more at ease while using their own tongue.
Therefore, is English spoken in the Netherlands? Absolutely. But should you completely rely on it? Absolutely not.
Learning some basic Dutch is a step toward becoming more fluent in the language or a sign of respect that you are a guest in the Netherlands.
Are you prepared to study Dutch? The greatest non-native Dutch speakers have been interviewed, the general public has been addressed, and the internet has been combed for the best ways to learn Dutch. Let's go now! (Go ahead!)
Let's quickly review what you're getting into before starting to learn Dutch
Dutch and English differences
You may be aware that a few English terms have their origins in the old Dutch language. Dutch is the source of words like a boss, bluff, cookie, Santa Claus, and even Yankee, which may be why some people claim that learning Dutch is simple if you already understand English.
Despite being members of the same West-Germanic language family, Dutch and English have several variances.
There are two definite articles in Dutch, which is frequently one of the first things learners notice. In contrast to English, which only has one definite article, the Dutch utilize either de or het.
You'll have to memorize both the nouns and the articles they go with when learning Dutch, which is fun!
Why utilize one when you may have two, once more? There are two variations of the personal pronoun "you" in Dutch. Dutch people employ the informal pronoun je and the formal pronoun u.
Word and length
The length of certain Dutch words may have caught your attention. In fact, you may extend practically any Dutch term to your desired length.
The Dutch language allows for almost infinite combinations of words to form compound words, allowing for an unending stream of word combinations.
When the phrase "kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamhedencomitéleden" (children's carnival parade preparation work committee members) nabbed a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011, that is what occurred.
However, a term must be often used to be included in a Dutch dictionary (thank god!). The longest term in the Dictionary of the Dutch Language, said to be the world's longest dictionary (we're sensing a theme here), is levensverzekeringsaangelegenheden (life insurance matters).
Is learning Dutch challenging?
When you conduct a thorough online search while putting off learning the language (don't worry, we've all done it), you'll discover that Dutch is actually rather simple to learn.
Yes, according to linguistic comparisons, Dutch is one of the simplest languages to learn if you have a foundation in Germanic languages, like English.
DutchReviewers on our Instagram, however, strongly disagree. Only 18% of respondents who were asked about their experiences with the Dutch language stated they found it easy to do so. The remaining 82% of voters said it was challenging to learn Dutch.
Languages of Dutch
You don't have to sound precisely like your Dutch neighbor if you're one of the individuals who find learning Dutch challenging or are concerned about your pronunciation. Dutch is a diverse language with several dialects; even some native Dutch speakers pronounce some words differently than the "standard."
The European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages recognizes three regional languages in the Netherlands:
- Frisian (spoken in Friesland),
- Low Saxon (spoken in the east of the country, including the Randstad), and
- Limburgish (spoken in Limburg, Belgium, and some places across the German border).
Even more dialects are spoken within these regions; some sources put the number at 267.
Even though Amsterdam and Utrecht are just 30 minutes away, you can tell the difference between an Amsterdammer and an Utrechter despite the fact that the four primary dialect groups are West Flemish, Hollandic, Brabantian, and Limburgish.
What gives Dutch its name?
Nederlands is the name of the language in Dutch, therefore why don't we call it "Netherlandish" in English?
The name for Dutch in the Middle Ages was Dietsc or Duutsc. It bears the same origin as "Deutsch" (also known as German) historically and means "language of the people." Although not used officially, the language was used informally. Latin was used as the official language and the medium of instruction instead.
Similar to how Dutch is used to refer to the Dutch people, Dutch is the name given to the Dutch language when it first appeared in English. After hearing "Duutsc," the English opted to name it Dutch.
How to begin studying Dutch
Let's start learning the Dutch language now that you have a general understanding of it. The following are some pointers, hints, and general knowledge that we wish we had known when we first began learning Dutch.
The CEFR levels are typically used to organize Dutch courses while searching online. Dutch language competency is broken down into six levels by the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), which is based on spoken interaction, spoken production, listening, writing, and reading.
In general, it takes between 100 and 200 hours to go up a level, but if you're doubtful about it, you can find a ton of free CEFR-compliant Dutch examinations online. In order to establish your level, many Dutch language schools also provide an induction class.
You don't need to be at a C level to speak Dutch, so don't worry about moving on to the more difficult stages.
It's likely that you can already carry on a simple chat at A2 and a more complicated conversation at B1.
Set objectives for learning Dutch
It's time to get started studying Dutch after establishing why you want to learn it, learning the fundamentals of the language, and comprehending the various Dutch competency levels.
Do you wish to achieve a certain CEFR level?
You could desire to succeed on the integration exam.
Whatever your goals are, I advise that you put them in writing so that you can hold yourself responsible and look back to them anytime you feel stuck to see how far you've come.
Remember to be kind to yourself since I tend to be too hard on ourselves.
Select a method for studying Dutch.
Next, choose a plan of action. Think on your preferred learning style—visual, auditory, verbal, or kinesthetic—and concentrate on Dutch study methods that suit it. I'll quickly discuss the best methods for learning Dutch if you're uncertain about them.
To allow oneself time is the most crucial aspect of planning, though. Even while we all want to learn Dutch quickly and easily, it won't happen overnight, so have fun and be kind to yourself.
Typical errors made when learning Dutch
Learning a new language may be thrilling, difficult, and even frightening. However, in order to learn, you must step outside of your comfort zone and, yes, make errors.
As you may have observed, Dutch frequently uses vocabulary from other languages (think English, German, and various Scandinavian languages).
When you suddenly recognize a term, like water, and correctly translate it to, well, water, that's extremely wonderful.
When you realize that slim doesn't always imply slim but rather clever. That "raar" stands for "strange," not "rare,"
Making every mistake at once when learning Dutch is another, less technical, error. You can't accomplish everything at once, no matter how eager you are to perfect the Dutch 'g' sound and show off your ability to pronounce "Scheveningen" like a local.
Many individuals commit themselves fully to studying Dutch for the first few weeks before giving up due to overload. You really can't keep up with, y'know, living in a completely other nation while using all the apps, reading all the books, watching all the shows, speaking every day, and more.
Therefore, choose one or two of the methods for learning Dutch listed below and get started. Making gradual, consistent development over time is more vital than burning money.
So, what are the best apps to learn Dutch?
I’ve collected our top recommendations for you below.
- Duolingo will teach you the most random but still somehow useful words to get you started on your Dutch journey.
- Memrise is similar to Duolingo but often has more relevant content, and their free version is really handy!
- Babbel has a free trial period that lets you get started with Dutch.
- Drops is perhaps the most fun and addictive(!) way to memorise Dutch vocabulary through illustrative games and personalised learning.
- Learn Dutch. Speak Dutch by Mondly requires just five minutes of practice a day.
- 6000 Words allows you to learn with fun language games and a visual approach.