Is learning Dutch really that difficult? Not with these top tips from language expert and founder of DNA Languages Anneke Siemons.
Dutch is often regarded as a language that is difficult to learn. The sentence structure is very different from that of many other languages and we also have sounds that seem unpronounceable. How can you ensure that you still learn the language? The Hague has plenty of schools and institutes where you can register for a language course, but you can also learn a lot on your own.
It starts with input
By listening to Dutch, you are training your ‘ear’. You learn to recognise the sounds, which not only helps your pronunciation, but also allows you to be able to distinguish different words. At the same time you are working on your listening skills. By listening a lot your understanding of Dutch will continue to improve. On top of all this you’ll get used to our grammatical structures, so that you can use them better yourself.
Tip: there are useful tutorials on pronunciation on YouTube. Try searching ‘uitspraak Nederlands’ or ‘pronunciation Dutch’.
Learn and make notes
An easy way to learn new vocabulary is to use the Duolingo app. You can also create your own file of words: use a notebook or your phone to write down words that you hear or read. Try to actively use 5 new words every day.
Speaking: step by step
Try to use the new language from Day 1 in your learning process, taking small steps. For example, start by only greeting in Dutch. On Day 2, use greetings and expressions of thanks. On Day 3 ask what time it is. Find out (online) which sentences or expressions you can use in a certain situation. And keep it simple, don’t try to translate the sentences you would use in your native language; make a short Dutch version instead.
Find a language buddy
Learning a language means practice, practice and more practice. So why not look for someone to practise your Dutch with. You could, for example, put a request in the Facebook group ‘Netwerk Statenkwartier’ or in your street Whatsapp group. Or just ask that friendly neighbour if they want to help you practise.
Make it fun
Learning Dutch can be enjoyable. Listen to songs in Dutch and sing along! If you search ‘Nederlands leren met muziek’ on YouTube you’ll find a selection of fun songs and the lyrics so that you can sing along. Games that my students like to play are Taboe or ‘kwartet’. Watch Netflix with Dutch subtitles or watch a Dutch film or TV series (with subtitles in your own languages).
Spice it up!
If you really want to sound like a local then learn to use a few of these phrases naturally and you’ll be guaranteed to make an impression!
Nederlands leren moeilijk voor internationals? U kunt ook helpen! Tip voor de buurman of buurvrouw.
Tip voor de buurman of buurvrouw
Als je iemand wil helpen met het oefenen van het Nederlands is de gouden regel dat je Nederlands blijft spreken, ook al spreekt de ander nog niet zo goed Nederlands. Spreek langzaam en duidelijk, articuleer goed, en maak duidelijk onderscheid tussen de verschillende woorden. Wij zijn geneigd alle woorden aan elkaar te plakken, maar zoiets als ‘kweenie’ is voor een taalleerder moeilijk te verstaan. Probeer verder om korte zinnen te maken, en gebruik eenvoudige woorden. We hebben in het Nederlands veel ‘transparante’ woorden, die ook in veel andere talen voorkomen, zoals bijvoorbeeld ‘conversatie’ in plaats van ‘gesprek’ en ‘interessant’ in plaats van ‘boeiend’. Zeker voor beginners zijn deze transparante woorden beter te begrijpen
About AnnekeAnneke is every inch the language trainer and has worked in the foreign language education sector right from the word go. As a student of Applied Linguistics, Anneke studied the science of language learning and how to help people be effective learners. After receiving her degree she made language learning her profession and created DNA Languages. “I started coming up with my own ideas about how learning a language should and can be done and realised that customisation plays a very important role. At DNA we are very practice oriented, and boring theoretical language exercises are off limits.”
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