I went from A1 to B2 with this Dutch language school; here’s how it went

From "hoi" to "hokjesgeest" 🇳🇱

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Learning Dutch can hang over the head of every international in the Netherlands. 

But how do you learn Dutch? I tried apps, I tried immersion, I tried watching Dutch shows on TV — but the biggest gamechanger was taking weekly Dutch lessons. 

Here’s my experience with Taalthuis, the Dutch school that finally took me from “Um, Engels?” to “Geen probleem, ik spreek Nederlands” (No problem, I speak Dutch).

Why I wanted to learn Dutch

As you’ve probably experienced, you don’t have to learn Dutch to live in the Netherlands.

With Dutch people speaking some of the best English in the world, it often feels like there’s no need. 

But take it from someone who has experienced both sides: learning Dutch when living in the Netherlands makes life much easier. 

I wanted to be able to socialise in Dutch. With Taalthuis, I now can! Image: Freepik

From being able to read official letters or signs in the shops and streets to not having to constantly ask, “Sorry, English?” speaking even some Dutch just changes your whole experience. 

But to get to that point, you have to learn the language. 

And let me tell you: it’s not easy — but it’s possible, even as a language-challenged Irish person who only speaks English. 

Especially if you find a good Dutch school. 

Finding a Dutch school can be a task all in itself! I chose Taalthuis. They offer courses online and face-to-face and in small groups with a maximum of eight people.

There’s a variety of times on offer, and they have specially developed their own textbook for courses up to the A2 level. Curious? See their method and courses. 

Psst! Not ready to commit to a class? Try their new, specially-developed Dutch Culture Course, where you learn all about Dutch culture and language, online and self-paced!

My experience with Taalthuis

My choice was made, my name was enrolled, and all that was left to do was swallow my nerves and actually take the course. 

And I did. In fact, I came back over and over again. 

It has now been two years since I started my Dutch language journey with Taalthuis. Let me tell you about my experience each step of the way. 

Intermediate Dutch: A1- A2

For me, taking the first step towards learning Dutch was the hardest. 

I had taken a simple A0 to A1 course two years prior, but I worried that some of the basic grammar and vocab I collected had vanished.

However, upon entering the online classroom, I realised I was in the right place. 

The basic Dutch skills I used daily (ordering a coffee, saying “nee dankjewel” when asked if I wanted a receipt) were enough to equip me for my A1 to A2 course.

@dutchreview It's always hard the first time. #fyp #dutchreview #expat #dutch #nederlands #nl #learningdutch ♬ original sound – DutchReview

Our very first lesson began with all of us giving a very basic introduction of ourselves “Ik ben Sarah. Ik kom uit…” 

As the lessons progressed, our wonderful teacher, Geeta, encouraged us as we learned to speak about what we did last weekend, how to conjugate verbs, and became acquainted with Dutch syntax (hello inversie!).

By the end of the course, I felt that my Dutch skills had snuck up on me! I was pleasantly surprised by my basic understanding of the tenses and sentence structure. I’d even learned how to give a compliment or two. 

The biggest area of improvement? For me, one big step I took towards improving my Dutch during the A1-A2 course was probably learning about Dutch sentence structures

Advanced Dutch: A2-B1 

My next challenge? Going from A2 to B1. Now, this was going to be a bit harder (that’s how upping the level works, after all.)

I started my first lesson of A2 to B1 much like my A1 to A2 course — we began by introducing ourselves. 

The difference, however, was that our introductions were more detailed and complex

READ MORE | I tried Taalthuis’s online Dutch course; here’s why I’ll be returning

We used more complicated sentence structures, added information such as what other languages we spoke, and even cracked a few jokes (okay, maybe it was mostly our teacher, Lucien, who did most of the joke-cracking, but I understood them!).

This exhibits the development of my Dutch skills throughout Taalthuis’ A2 to B1 course. I learned to express myself with more detail and emotion and also gained more insight into the technicalities behind Dutch grammar.

By the time I had completed Part 1 and Part 2 of Taalthuis’ A2-B1 course, I wasn’t just cracking jokes myself, I was also engaging in debates with my classmates, laughing at Dutch humour (a miracle), and haggling for potted plants. 

The biggest area of improvement? For me, while going from A2-B1, I saw the biggest improvement in my grammar: I learned how different sentence structures interact with each other and how to form a passive sentence.

However, with the help of Taalthuis’ Lucien, Marcella, and Margriet, I was able to conquer these difficulties — and open the door to a whole new world of Dutch. 

High Advanced: B1-B2

This is currently the level I’m completing with Taalthuis, and let me tell you, going from B1-B2 is lastig (hard), but equally worth it. 

Like before, we started our lessons by introducing ourselves. However, we were quickly elbow-deep in new vocab and grammar rules. 

For example, we learned how to describe more complex personality traits “Ik heb de neiging erg ongeduldig te zijn.” (I have the tendency to be very impatient.)

While our wonderfully kind teacher, Siebren, does crack jokes, he’s also on a serious mission to sharpen our skills. 

I now feel confident enough to actually engage in debates with people in Dutch. Image: Freepik

From day one, myself and my classmates have been immersed in vocab lists and grammar rules. 

READ MORE | Dutch made fun and easy: Taalthuis brings the spark to at-work language learning

Going from B1 to B2 is all about taking what you’ve learned in class and practising it. As Siebren says “Oefenen, oefenen, oefenen” (Practice, practice, practice).

And if you do? You’ll be amazed by how versatile your Dutch skills become.

For example, I can now discuss complex topics such as the Dutch approach to small talk or whether I think the Netherlands is a tolerant country. 

The biggest area of improvement? At this level, I found that I saw the most improvement in my vocabulary and the ease with which I spoke. With more words under your belt, it’s much easier to keep a conversation going!

The bottom line: Was learning Dutch at Taalthuis worth it? 

Am I thankful for the hours I spent in Dutch lessons with my Taalthuis teachers? Absolutely. 

These lessons were what got me from repeating “Ik hou van sinaasappelsap” (I love orange juice) on Duolingo to successfully speaking Dutch. 

Would I take lessons with Taalthuis again? Absolutely. Image: Freepik

Taalthuis emphasises learning Dutch in real situations. From going to the bike repair shop to visiting a doctor or talking with Dutch people about cultural topics, every lesson is geared towards useful Dutch. 

READ MORE | 5 ways Dutch classes will actually give your Dutch the boost it needs

With my level now, I can comfortably operate in Dutch in everyday life. Some of my biggest changes include:

💼 I can have meetings at work in Dutch
👋 I can go to social events and chat with Dutch people (in Dutch)
🗞️ I can open a Dutch news article online and not have to translate the page
📮 I can read the mail that drops in my letterbox
🛒 I can go to the supermarket and ask workers where the vla is (very important)
📺 I can watch Dutch TV shows and movies

Do I speak grammatically perfect sentences with perfect pronunciation? Not always — and that’s okay. 

At my level of Dutch, Dutch people are really happy to go with it and rarely switch back to English. 

In short: Learning Dutch has made living in the Netherlands 100 times more comfortable and fulfilling. 

Ready to learn Dutch? I did all my lessons at Taalthuis and recommend them 100%. Lessons focus on useful Dutch, speaking, reading, listening, and writing, and — best of all — fun! Find a course

Have you successfully learned Dutch? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Feature Image:Freepik
Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Before becoming the Senior Editor of DutchReview, Sarah was a fresh-faced international looking to learn more about the Netherlands. Since moving here in 2017, Sarah has added a BA in English and Philosophy (Hons.), an MA in Literature (Hons.), and over three years of writing experience at DutchReview to her skillset. When Sarah isn't acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her trying to sound witty while writing about some of the stickier topics such as mortgages and Dutch law.

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  1. Similar experiences with the Dutch Summer School – just did levels 4-5 (A2-B1) in the fall and now I carry on full conversations with people. Not deep conversations but real ones.


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