How to Learn Dutch and Speak Like a Native

howtolearndutchAre you preparing to head to the Netherlands for an extended vacation, or are you headed to the country for a business trip? Perhaps you are taking the exciting step of moving to the Netherlands on a permanent basis. For the former, having a basic mastery of some Dutch phrases may be a little luxury for a much more convenient and stress-free vacation. For others, learning Dutch may be a necessity for their extended stay, or even their new life in the country.

Regardless of their reasons for learning it, people can rest easy – learning Dutch actually doesn’t have to be that difficult. You can get tips and tricks for learning any foreign language on Udemy. These pointers will guide you through the process of setting up daily practice with the language that you want to learn, and will help you find the best program for enhancing your skills and becoming fluent as you learn the vocabulary.

About Dutch

Spoken in the Netherlands and in Belgium, Dutch is a Germanic language that still has a fairly large number of speakers – about 28 million. It is very closely related to English, and because of that can be one of the easier languages for native English speakers to learn.

While the close relationship between Dutch and English can make it easier to learn in many ways, it does also present some unique challenges. While there are many real cognates between the two languages – that is, words that are identical or nearly identical between the two languages, and that mean the same thing – there are also many false cognates to be aware of. False cognates are words that look the same, but that actually have very different meanings – “slapen”, which means to sleep, and the English word “slap” being a prime example.

It can also be tempting for English speakers who are learning Dutch to structure their sentences and use language in a similar way to the way they would in English, which can lead to misunderstandings and confusion if the speaker isn’t careful. Therefore, while learning Dutch is in itself not overtly challenge, a lot of attention to the finer details of the language are required to speak it properly and to speak with native fluency.

What’s the Best Way to Learn Dutch?

The best way to learn any foreign language is to be surrounded with the language itself. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the luxury of booking a flight to the Netherlands, or choosing to live there for an extended period of time while mastering the language. And even if you are planning a move to the country, or an extended vacation, you’re likely to spend a little while stumbling over what you do know before you develop any real fluency.

That’s why it can be a great idea to get access to Dutch media – books, music, and much more – so you can be sure that you are being exposed to the language on a daily basis. You should consider finding an online group, either of native speakers or of other people like you who are trying to learn the language.  Doing so can ensure that you are getting the practice that you need on a regular basis, and speaking the language with a friend or an acquaintance can ensure that you are corrected when you make mistakes.

Of course, to back up all of this you should also consider taking an online course in Dutch to really boost your skills. These courses can help you to develop the skills that you need for further language mastery, with lessons in everything from the basic Dutch phrases (such as greetings, emergency phrases, and basic conversational phrases) to more complex grammar.

Learning Dutch Pronunciation

Dutch is pronounced very differently than one might expect. To be able to speak the language and communicate with native Dutch speakers, you must learn the proper pronunciation of the various words and phrases. This is why it is so crucial that you use both audio and video when learning Dutch, rather than relying on nothing but books, websites, and blogs. Viewing and listening to Dutch media will help you with this task tremendously, as will taking language learning courses and watching language learning videos that allow you to hear the language spoken.

Though it is not the most exciting place to begin, one of the best places to start as you begin learning Dutch pronunciation is with the letters of the alphabet. The Dutch alphabet, while it is the same as the English alphabet, pronounces some letters quite differently – this is indicative of the difference in the way that these letters are pronounced in the two languages.

Another difference that those who are looking to learn Dutch will need to take note of is the existence of different diphthongs in the two languages. Diphthongs are combinations of vowels or combinations of vowels and consonants that, when combined in a word, are pronounced differently and make a different sound.

Examples in English include the “-igh-“ in “light” or the “-ure” in “lure”. The most common diphthong in Dutch is the “-ij-“ letter combination, which in Dutch is generally regarded as being a single letter. (In fact, with IJ appears at the beginning of a proper name, it is capitalized as if it were one letter.) This letter combination can be difficult for foreign speakers to pronounce correctly. Be sure that you are listening to a lot of audio and that you are practicing on a regular basis to ensure you are getting it right.

Learning Dutch Grammar

Grammar is a challenge, regardless of the language that you are learning. However, it is crucial when it comes to speaking and communicating clearly and effectively with Dutch speakers. There is a lot to know when it comes to Dutch grammar.

One of the first and most important things that you will need to learn is the fact that in Dutch, there is a formal and an informal way of addressing others. This is crucial if you want to speak politely to those around you. The formal manner of address is used when speaking to individuals who are older than you or that have authority over you, such as bosses and teachers. It is also used when you are speaking politely to an individual that you do not know very well, or that you have just met. The informal manner of address is used when speaking to people who are good friends or members of your family, or when you are speaking to much younger individuals, such as children.

Even if you are learning just the basic phrases that you need for conversation in Dutch, it is important that you learn both the informal and the formal manner of speaking.

Though not as complex as some other languages, the actual rules for Dutch grammar can still be pretty complex. This is why you cannot learn and master Dutch simply by learning Dutch vocabulary. When you are seeking a Dutch language course online, be sure that you are enrolling in courses that go in-depth into Dutch grammar.

Learning Dutch Vocabulary

Once you have mastered the basics of Dutch, such as pronunciation and the basics of grammar, it is time to start boosting your Dutch vocabulary skills. If you are regularly immersing yourself in the language, such as through music, video, and language learning courses, some of the vocabulary of the language will be learned naturally. However, there is always room to further boost your vocabulary skills.

How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language is a great course on Udemy that can teach you the best way to boost your vocabulary, no matter what language it is that you are learning. Remember as you learn Dutch vocabulary that the best way to retain what you have learned is to actually use it in conversation or in writing. Rote memorization can only take you so far as vocabulary is concerned.

If you do not use it, you will quite literally lose it, no matter how good your language or memorization skills may be. Not only that, but using these words in conversation or through writing will ensure that you are using them properly. There are many words in Dutch that may seem correct in certain contexts, but that can actually be used improperly if you are not being careful.

Getting Started

Once you’re ready to start learning, the best thing that you can do is find the online course that works best for you. The time that you have to devote to a course, the amount of proficiency in a language that you are looking to achieve, and the amount of money you’re looking to invest in a course will all play a factor in the one that best suits your needs. Check out this foreign language learning course on Udemy for more insight into the fastest, cheapest, and most effective ways to learn a language.