Dutch is a relatively easy language for English speakers to learn because it’s one of the closest relatives to English. They’re like old friends: both are West Germanic languages, meaning that from a structural point of view even a complete beginner will find Dutch much easier than master than say Polish or Spanish.
There are also thousands of cognates between English and Dutch that will make learning easier. With your newly learned Dutch you can enjoy some koekjes (cookies) and wafels (waffles) at the side of the canal on a crisp spring morning in Amsterdam!
If that tempts you, here is our guide on everything you need to know for starting Dutch lessons:
If you’ve decided to learn a foreign language, there are a number of helpful resources available, and what you spend can vary on what method you choose. Whatever method you choose you’ll have to invest time and most likely, some money.
Cost is a really important factor in selecting a language programme. There are many different ways to learn a language and you can spend a lot of money or none at all.
We’ve included some different methods so you can find one to suit your budget.
There are several computer programmes and software packages that can help you learn a foreign language. These programs vary from game-like apps, free online courses, and fully-fledged computer programs that include more traditional learning methods like flashcards and dictionaries.
You can often try programmes for free so you can try out a few before you commit paying. Programmes like Rosetta Stone focus on speaking, listening and comprehension skills. They often use repetition as a method to learn vocabulary and many have technology that can help you improve your Dutch accent!
The great thing about apps and programmes is that you can do a little every day. It an easy convenient way to learn in the comfort of your own home.
But you might find that need more guidance from a tutor rather than using apps and computer programmes
There are many benefits to having a tutor or teacher when learning Dutch. A tutor can use their knowledge and experience to help you really understand the language.
Finding a native Dutch tutor is always best so you can hear how the language should really sound. There are many different ways you can benefit from instructor-led learning, from group lessons to private tutoring.
They all have their benefits so you should find the one to suit you.
Learning with others can be a useful tool (Source: Pexels)
Group lessons are often cheaper than private tutoring as you all share the cost of the teacher.
Aside from price, group lessons can be a great way to learn. Group lessons offer the benefit of face-to-face accessibility with an instructor. If you have questions or are confused about a topic, you can ask your teacher for help.
You will also have other students to interact with and bounce ideas off. You never know what your fellow students will ask it might be something you never thought to ask. Keep in mind, that individuals learn at different speeds. If you fall behind, you’ll still be expected to continue on at a certain pace. On the other hand, if you learn quickly or have prior experience with a language, you may be bored with repetitive lessons.
If you think you need more personal attention when it comes to learning Dutch you should try private tutoring.
Online or in-person language lessons with a private tutor offer the advantage of one-on-one instruction. Depending on your goals and learning style, your teacher will be able to adapt lessons to suit you.
You don’t have to worry about going at any else’s pace like you would in a group class because your lessons will go at your pace and will develop as you improve your Dutch skills.
Finding a native Dutch tutor in your area might be difficult, depending on where you are, so don’t hesitate to look online for a tutor. An online private tutor will offer you all the same benefits as an ‘in real life’ tutor. You can arrange lessons over Skype and you will have access to the same feedback as you would if you met the tutor in person.
Superprof has plenty of tutors all across the country and online that can help you reach your language goals.
Do a little research to ensure you’re picking a good tutor. Make sure the tutor has the requirements you need to reach your goals.
You need to feel comfortable with your tutor. Learning a new language can be daunting so you want to have a tutor who will encourage you and who you feel is invested in your learning. Speaking Dutch requires confidence and you should be able to draw confidence from your tutor and not feel shy in front of them. Finding the right tutor for you is just as much about your gut feeling about them as it is their qualifications.
Don’t hesitate to ask to meet your tutor, or arrange a Skype call, before you commit to lessons with them. If you connect with them and you feel at ease then this is just as important as their experience!
While you will learn a lot in both group lessons and private tutoring you can’t just rely on your teacher for learning. You have to put in extra work yourself between your lessons. There are many things you can do to boost your skills.
Planning your revision between your lessons is essential (Source: Pexels)
The first step is to know what’s ahead of you. What do you need to cover?
Ask your tutor or teacher for a brief outline of what you’re going to cover in class. You can use your timetable to keep on top of revision between classes so you’re you really know the topic or grammar rule before you move on to the next one.
Taking notes in class and from your textbook (or worksheets, if your teacher uses them) is crucial. The action of making notes itself is a way of learning and remembering, no one can take information in just from staring at a page.
Reading helps you revisit learned vocabulary, and see those words in new sentences and contexts. One excellent source of foreign language exposure is through graded readers, which are designed specifically for language learners of different levels. Another good source is advertisements or menus, which tend to use short, colloquial text.
Train your ear listening to Dutch radio and watching Dutch TV and Film. This is a great technique for comprehension. At the beginning of learning a language you feel like you should know every word but the more you listen to Dutch the more you’ll be able to pick out keywords in a sentence so you can understand. As you listen you’ll hear how they are using certain words or how they formulate sentences.
It’s good practice to note down words that come up often. These are usually connecting words or useful verbs that you can work in to your own speech.
Ask friends and family to test you. Get them to shout out a verb and you can conjugate it. Or they can test you on vocabulary or different tenses.
Speak to fellow learners to test each other on what you’ve learnt in class. This is also a great tool to hear someone else explain a grammar rule to you. If you didn’t understand it in class you might find it easier when someone else explains it in their own words.
If you can, speak to a native Dutch speaker. There are plenty of language exchange websites where you can chat in English and Dutch to share your knowledge with each other. You might even find an exchange in person. This is an invaluable tool in language learning. You’ll hear someone other than your teacher talking so you can get used to a new accent and to different vocabulary.
Speaking to a native will also boost your confidence knowing that you can have conversations in Dutch and can even make a friend in Dutch!
If you’re struggling with revision and need another method other than using your textbook, you can use online resources to boost your learning between lessons.
Duolingo is a language learning website and App for mobiles and tablets. It’s 100% free and is a great way to improve your language skills. The App is designed so you progress through a language course.
You can practice your speaking, reading, listening and writing skills while playing a game! You’ll improve your vocabulary and grammar skills by answering questions and completing lessons. You start with basic verbs, phrases, and sentences, and learn new words daily.
Duolingo uses repetition as a learning tool. Words and phrases will keep coming up in different questions until you know them by heart.
The App rewards your dedication with points and congratulates you on logging on to your lessons consistently every day.
Duolingo is one of the most popular ways to learn new languages. It is a great fun way to improve your skills and is completely free too!
Babbel offers language courses online through it’s website and on it’s app. It uses quiz style questions to help you progress. You will be shown new grammar and vocabulary and then be asked questions throughout the lesson to reinforce the information.
The courses are really straightforward and easy to use and can be used as a great addition to your Dutch lessons. You can use it as a beginner or go in at a higher level.
Unlike Duolingo however it is not 100% free. You can start a course for free but you have to pay to access more materials.
Overall though Babbel is a great tool and will easily complement your lessons.
In a language class, yesterday’s vocabulary is more important than today’s. The goal is to transfer the short-term knowledge of new vocabulary into your long-term memory. Review is essential – in the first few days or weeks after learning new vocabulary in class, recycle those words and you’ll entrench them in your memory.
Keep on top of your revision and you’ll really make your Dutch lesson count!