Taking the plunge into that Dutch lesson life is no easy feat — especially when you’re not sure if the time, effort, and cost will be worth it.
But take it from seasoned internationals in the Netherlands: if you really want to feel comfortable in your ability to speak Dutch, you need to rip off the bandaid and book yourself in for a Nederlandse cursus.
We both spent a good few years in the Netherlands before we decided to take the plunge and enrol in Dutch lessons at Taalthuis. Now we know first hand that Dutch lessons were the number one factor that got us speaking Dutch fast.
So before you start coming up with a thousand reasons to not take the plunge, we’re here to bust 11 myths about taking Dutch lessons — so you can get on with the learning. 😉
1. It’s expensive
Will Dutch lessons cost you some of your hard-earned geld? Zeker! Will it cost you thousands and thousands of euros? Not necessarily. An average 13-week, one class per week course will run you around €500.
Now we chose a writing career, so believe us, we know that’s not a tiny amount of cash to cough up. But the amazing rush of walking into Albert Heijn and conducting the entire trip in Dutch? Being able to give directions to the little lost old lady on the street? That’s a priceless feeling.
Plus, at the start, you’ll increase one whole level (e.g. from A1 to A2) as a beginner, or half a level when you’re intermediate or advanced. That means every 13 weeks you’ll have a whole new set of skills to show off. Lekker bezig! (Good job!)
2. The teachers are all old and mean
If the thought of learning a language gives you flashbacks to sitting in primary school and having your knuckles rapped for not remembering your French conjugations — it’s time to let that mental image go. Shh, go on, it’s time.
Dutch teachers come in all shapes and sizes and that’s awesome because it means you have choice. You can find a teacher who is 20 years old, fresh, and enthusiastic, or you can find a teacher that’s been around for enough years and has seen every Dutch learning problem there is. Now, it’s just a matter of finding your perfect match!
3. The lessons are entirely in Dutch
Alright, this isn’t an entire untruth. As you progress, you will be hearing and speaking a lot of Dutch in lessons — but that’s the point!
However, we all know how great Dutchies are at speaking English — so if there’s ever a tricky grammatical concept that you really need to be explained in simple English, you can bet that will be done quick smart. You will not be left lost and alone, we promise.
4. There will be a lot of homework
Another great thing about learning a language as an adult is that you’ve got s*** to do — and the teachers get that. You’re not a child with empty evenings, you’re a person with a job. And a cat. And laundry. And grocery shopping that really needs to be done or oh lord you’ll eat frozen pizza again for dinner.
Will there be homework? Yes. But it’s usually manageable. Got plenty of time? Great! You can spend between four and six hours on your huiswerk. Got a more hectic week ahead of you? Carve out an hour or two for yourself one evening in the week and you’re good to go.
Didn’t have time to do it all? Geen probleem. Again, this isn’t primary school, you won’t be scolded in front of your classmates. Life happens, the teachers get it. The more you put in the more you’ll get out — but every journey starts with that first step.
5. It’ll be boring
Boring? Dutch lessons? Never. Look, some of the grammar can feel tedious and some of the words may make you want to tear your hair out, but boring — nee.
We can’t promise every lesson will be as scintillating as the latest season of the Dutch Hunted (which, by the way, you’ll be able to watch in Dutch now), but with the right Dutch language school you’ll have lessons with variety where you’ll get that sweet sweet adrenaline rush after creating the perfect bijzin.
Who needs skydiving when you have Dutch lessons?! 😂
6. You’ll learn useless Dutch
Listen, when you’re living in the Netherlands, there’s no such thing as useless Dutch. Sure, people can argue that you’ll get along fine with a script for certain scenarios and do the rest in English — but again, you’re not really integrating in this case.
Dutch lessons cover everything from how to format a sentence, to how to tell a particularly loud person in the silent carriage of the train to “hou je mond” (Shut your mouth.) And you’re going to need it all if you plan on staying in this country for longer than a few months, trust us.
7. You’ll need to take a lot of tests
Myth, myth, myth. Of course, this is all dependent on your Dutch language school, but typically you’ll do a full or a half language level block before needing to take a test.
So yes, sometimes you’ll need to crack open the books and study hard, but you won’t be drowning under a mountain of exams — we promise. Then, when you do pass a test you’ll know it was hard-earned and true proof of your Dutch-speaking ability (which is by then great, by the way). 🙌
9. It’s time-consuming
Will you learn Dutch overnight? Nee! Will you need to put in some time and effort? Ja! But learning Dutch doesn’t need to be time-consuming. For a once-per-week class, you’ll typically need to do between four to six hours of homework each week, plus your class time.
It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it’s certainly doable around a full-time job, seeing friends, and having hobbies — and yes, we are speaking from experience!
9. It’ll move too fast (or too slow)
Listen, this can be true — but only if you’ve signed up for the wrong level of Dutch lessons. Perhaps you may overestimate your ability and enrol yourself straight into a B1 course, then you find that everything is one big blur of sounds.
But the fix is simple, switch yourself to a lower level and you’ll find a pace that suits your abilities! The school where we learn Dutch makes it possible to switch to another level during the course as well.
However, most of the time, you’ll find that everything moves at just the right pace. You’re usually asked to complete a short test or have a quick phone call with your teacher before you begin. This way, you can be advised of whether your level of Dutch is too high, too low, or juuuust right for the course. 👌
10. You can just learn Dutch with an app instead
Apps like Duolingo are fantastic at strengthening your Dutch vocabulary. However, the greatest criticism around these apps is that you will learn words but you won’t learn grammar — and that’s a problem when it comes to, you know — creating sentences. And more importantly… you don’t learn how to speak the language
Dutch grammar and sentence structure is entirely different to English, so taking the time and effort to learn how to conjugate and how to construct a sentence (and having a chance to put them into practice) is really necessary — and that’s something an app won’t teach you.
11. You’re too old, or you can’t do it
Let’s go ahead and call ourselves Barack Obama because Yes We Can. It is possible to learn Dutch and — we’re speaking entirely from experience — that process goes hella faster when you’ve been gently guided by a great teacher.
Plus, Dutch lessons consist of people of all backgrounds and ages. You’ll find fresh-faced 20-year-olds, well-seasoned internationals who have been living here for 10-plus years, and anyone and everyone in between.
We had both spent far too long in the Netherlands struggling to pick up the language, but it was only when we signed up for language lessons that we saw our Dutch progress go through the roof.
Today we’re by no means fluent — but we can get around, have hour-long conversations, and sometimes even understand whatever the hell the NS loudspeaker is crackling out.
And let us tell you — if we did it, you can too. 😂
What myths have you heard about taking Dutch lessons? Tell us in the comments below!
This article was co-written by Sarah O’Leary & Samantha Dixon
Feature Image: ArturVerkhovetskiy/Depositphotos