Learning anything new can be overwhelming, not to mention a second language. Are you straddling the line about whether or not to travel to, move to The Netherlands, or just learn Dutch out of interest? We’re sure we can convince you and show you that Dutch words and Dutch expressions aren’t a huge undertaking to learn.
Learning to speak Dutch online
Learning a subject, namely a language online is one of the easiest methods. Learn Dutch by finding a Dutch teacher who fits into your schedule. Take Dutch lessons online if convenience, flexibility and comfort are at the top of your list. Most guides to the Dutch language for expats will suggest using Dutch as often as possible. This could be hard if you live in a country where little to no people speak it.
But that shouldn’t hinder you from your dreams of learning to speak Dutch. Online classes simulate an environment in which you can practice the Dutch language. You set your hours and the frequency. To be honest, online classes can cost a lot less than in-class learning too.
Online learning is an affordable, convenient, flexible, and less intimidating way to master the Dutch language.
How hard is Dutch to learn?
Before you even get started, questions like “Is Dutch hard to learn?”, “How hard is Dutch vs English?” and of course, “Is Dutch easy to learn for English speakers?” may already be planting the seed of doubt in your mind.
Well, we are here to put your mind at ease as Dutch is considered one of the easiest languages to learn for a native English speaker. So that’s one question down, and two to go.
Do you think French and Spanish are close to English? Then we’re here to inform you Dutch is even more similar. Dutch and English share cognates (words that sound and mean the same things) that number in the thousands. It’s easy for English speakers to pick it up, and it also opens the doors to learning other Germanic languages (Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, Norwegian, etc).
As you know Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands, but you may be pleasantly surprised that some parts of Northern France, Germany, Suriname and Indonesia also speak a bit of Dutch.
The Dutch language also possesses an alphabet similar to English and understanding how to pronounce each letter can pave the way to perfect pronunciation.
Conversing with Dutch natives
Not only other language learners but meeting and conversing with Dutch natives is extremely beneficial. Perhaps they can even teach you some colloquial terms and funny Dutch phrases to break the ice.
Language exchanges, meet-ups and cafes are great places to showcase your new skill. The best part about these methods is they are all free!
Once you meet some fellow English speakers or those learning English as a second language, it can be hard to fight the urge to only speak in your native tongue. It’s important to fight it!
Do not regress, force yourself to only use Dutch when applicable to ensure you don’t forget any new words or phrases you’ve learned. We know it can be hard and perhaps even daunting to limit yourself to the few sentences you can string together.
Learning Dutch is easy, but not the actual attempt itself. Learning a language isn’t just about understanding it at its roots, it’s also about being brave enough to step out of your comfort zone and actually using it.
Immersing yourself in Dutch culture
Not only the culture but the environment as well. The pace of learning a language quickens when you are surrounded by it. Try to make learning Dutch a part of your everyday routine.
It’s all about exposure. If you don’t live in the country, try to watch more of their TV shows and movies, listen to more of their music and read Dutch books. It’s alright if the books you start reading are for toddlers, everyone has to start somewhere, right?
Find someone else you know who is interested in learning Dutch and partner up for a study session a few times a week. You really get a sense of fellowship when the two of you are in the same boat.
Taking local classes in Dutch
By local classes we don’t mean Dutch classes. If you are lucky enough to be spending an extended time in The Netherlands, take up a hobby or a class that interests you. Chances are, it will be taught in Dutch. This forces you to be exposed to the language with no dictionary or translator for help.
The teacher may be kind enough to help you along with a few English sentences here and there, but the best way is to balance the listening with speaking.
As we mentioned before, online classes can also provide the perfect scenario for you to work on all skills – speaking, listening, grammar, pronunciation, and reading.
Are you ready to go?
Many of you might have thought learning Dutch is a formidable task. However, with our guide to the Dutch language for expats, you should feel the burden lift off your shoulders. It is comforting to know that the Dutch language is relatively easy to learn for native English speakers, and you also get two languages for the price of one. What do we mean? Why Afrikaans of course! The two are strikingly similar and going from one to the other doesn’t require strenuous effort.
What are your best tips for learning Dutch? Have you been making progress in learning the language? Let us know in the comments below!