Wanna learn Dutch, but you’re not sure where to start? Then you’re in luck! Whether you’re looking to move to the Netherlands or you pitched up here three years ago, it’s never too late to learn Dutch fast and easy.
It’s good that you want to learn Nederlands the fast and easy way, so we’ve put together seven tips to get the ball rolling for you (bonus: most of them are free ways to learn Dutch too).
Watch Dutch TV with subtitles
It may drive you absolutely crazy listening to Dutch television (there’s nothing worse than listening to a language on TV at first and not understanding a word), but trust me: it works.
It’s the perfect way to hear a conversation and internalise it as you’re reading the subtitles. In fact, that’s how a lot of children learn other languages (especially English). If they can do it, so can you.
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Next time you want to Netflix and chill (or Netflix en chillen), leave out the chill and pop on that Dutch film. Your language skills will thank you for it, even if your partner won’t. 😉
Read children’s books
When you’re learning Dutch, you’ll be starting from square one — in the exact same way that a child learns how to read and pronounce words properly through a basic children’s book.
We all did that one day with our own native language, so this is one of the best ways to do the same for Dutch.
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One of the most popular Dutch children’s books is Jip en Janneke — known for its simplicity, but also cleverly written.
Don’t fret, this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to practise Dutch. It’s also the perfect way to get a bit of bedtime reading in, though it may be a bit awkward at work when someone asks you what books you’ve been reading lately…😬
Give it your all, but remember: less is more.
Less really is more when it comes to learning a language. “Binge” learning Dutch fast and in a panic is not the most effective way of doing it.
Do you remember being back in school (or maybe you still are) and you would stay up late attempting to absorb every little thing for your exam the next day in a last-minute cram sesh? Was it stressful? Well, the same goes for learning Dutch fast that way.
If you want to learn it properly, it’s going to take time and patience.
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You’ll need to be passionate enough to learn the language because if you’re not going to give it your all and put in 100% effort when practising, then you aren’t going to learn it quickly, and you aren’t going to learn it properly.
The key here is quality over quantity (sorry, we’ll stop being so mumsie now). 😉
Talk to people and pretend you don’t speak English (no, seriously)
We’re all guilty of panicking halfway through a poorly strung together Dutch sentence and finishing it with “Spreekt u Engels?” or “Sorry, ik spreek Engels“.
Even worse is when you’re speaking okay, but the person you’re talking to switches to English anyway (our dang accent!). But now — no more! Let’s take a stand.
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Forget that you speak English for a second and persevere. Even say (in Dutch) that you don’t speak English when they switch.
Unless you’re having incredible difficulty or the person is starting to look p**sed off, then do not switch back, you’ll find that your confidence will grow, and your language skills will flourish. Go for it — act natural and pretend you’re Dutch!
Find a study buddy and exchange your language knowledge
I’ve often seen this on international Facebook groups, where people are looking for someone to buddy up with in order to practise their Dutch.
For example, if you have a friend who wants to practise their English (or another language you can help with) and they can speak fluent Dutch, then you can ‘exchange’ languages.
It’s simple: You practice on them, and they practice on you (think about cursing in Dutch as well). You can even go on study-buddy dates where one of you will speak one language, and then you’d respond in Dutch, and the conversation will flow that way.
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It’s quite funny to watch those who overhear your conversation. Speaking from personal experience, when I was on the train with my friend who sat next to a guy speaking English to another guy, he would just reply in Dutch over and over. My friend was very confused. It may sound crazy, but it works.
Listen to the Dutch radio
If you have a lot of international friends, it can be hard to practise your Dutch because no one is speaking it around you. Our last tip is that you can listen to some good ol’ Dutch music on the radio.
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You don’t have to sit there, staring blankly at the walls, trying to listen out for every single word, but it might be a nice way to get used to hearing the different pronunciations.
Ask a Dutch person what you should get jamming to, or try having it in the background whilst you do work.
And that’s it for now! Remember to have fun with it; it’s great that you are broadening your horizons by learning another language. You’ll find way more opportunities in the Netherlands and make a tonne of friends.
Eventually, you might even start to understand the Dutch humour — but that’s a whole other language entirely.
Good luck! Or, as the Dutch say, succes! 🤩
What are your top tips for learning Dutch easily? Drop them in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in October 2018, but was fully updated in August 2022 for your reading pleasure.
1) Practice your speaking skills by signing up to a buddy platform. They connect you to a native speaker for you to have a small conversation with ones a week or 2 weeks. For instance: pnmm.nl, https://www.humanitas.nl/programmas/taalmaatjes
2) Practice your listening skills with podcasts. Listening to podcasts in Dutch helps you to learn new vocabulary if you’re at higher levels or just to get acquainted with the sound of the language for beginners. Few examples:
– Een Beetje Nederlands (disclaimer: I make this podcast): https://www.eenbeetjenederlands.nl
– Zeg het in het Nederlands: https://dutchidiom.com/zeg-het-in-het-nederlands/
– Simpel Nederlands (op Youtube): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCytxtlC79mk7Se4POi_DM-Q