How to speak Dutch like a native

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Why Dutch is lekker

Want to truly experience the culture of the Netherlands? This land-locked country is a business and tourist powerhouse, known for its lively capital city of Amsterdam, bikes, tulips, windmills and canals. But as the locals will tell you, attractions such as Vla, stroopwafels and ‘gezellig’ Dutch pubs are just the tip of the cultural iceberg in this historic, friendly country, where the locals are known for being the tallest nation in the world! But, if you want to really get down into the nitty-gritty of the Netherlands, then you need to learn how to speak Dutch.

Dutch is a great language to learn for better employment, leisure and travel opportunities. Not only is it a fun and useful language to learn, but it’s also one of the easiest for native English speakers, with ready links into other Germanic languages. Many Dutch speakers find it a uniquely satisfying language to learn, with plenty of ‘fun’ words, satisfying pronunciation and melodic flow. Once you discover the delights of pronouncing everything good to be ‘lekker’ and using the diminutive ‘-tje’ at the end of words, you’ll start to relish every sentence!

Tips, tricks and ways to learn

Having established that you should learn Dutch, now the question is how. The good news is that there is no single ‘right’ way to learn a language, as there are various learning routes available. Some are time-tested and others, like Babbel, harness the power of technology, combining this delivery method with advanced teaching methodologies for accelerated learning. With so many ways to learn how to speak Dutch, it’s good to be open-minded about the learning mode that will take you to your goals in the shortest possible time.

1. Immerse yourself in Dutch

The sooner you can start to speak the Dutch language, the sooner you will begin to feel confident enough to have conversations in the real world with other Dutch speakers. Where old-fashioned language lessons focused heavily on static classes with grammar exercises and word recognition, modern techniques immerse engaged students in everyday situations that stimulate their interest and passion for learning fast. Listen to the new words that you hear and repeat them from the start. Work out how to start asking simple questions and saying basic phrases. Yes, it will be difficult at first and your efforts will be far from perfect - but you’ll be amazed at how quickly you progress, and how fun your learning will be.

2. Be excited about learning Dutch

The Dutch language is fun to speak and there is plenty to love about the countries in which it is spoken: The Netherlands, Flanders, Suriname in South America, Aruba and the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean. Dutch speakers can also often understand Afrikaans in South Africa, which originates from Dutch, and there are thousands of Dutch speakers in Canada, the USA and Indonesia too. The Netherlands is a country with an exciting culture and a worldwide presence in the fields of business, sports, entertainment and leisure, so the more you can learn about Dutch life, the more excited you will be to connect with its citizens and its culture.

3. Practice Dutch every day

Traditional language lessons - the type that we might remember from school - typically involved one to two hours of formal learning every week, backed up with some homework (when we remembered…) but the real key to learning a language effectively is to practice it every day. As you learn new Dutch words, repeat them to yourself, naming the things you see in your life in Dutch. Practice your phrases and repeat sentences to yourself. Aim to do some Dutch every day, even if it is just five to ten minutes whilst you are sitting on the bus or eating your lunch! This will stimulate your brain and keep it active, consolidating the lessons that you learn and ensuring that everything remains fresh. Apps like Babbel can support you with this.

4. Find a friend to show you how to speak Dutch

Whichever formal learning method you use to learn how to speak Dutch it really helps to consolidate your learning - not to mention, make the entire learning process far more fun - if you can meet other Dutch friends or language partners. Look for Dutch conversation groups or join online forums to practice your written skills. Find a Dutch language partner for everyday conversation. Buddy up with a Dutch speaker who is looking to develop their English skills! Again, this will help to develop your colloquial Dutch and to help you become familiar with different accents, everyday language patterns and regional phrases which aren’t always included in a traditional or formal language course (Babbel being a notable exception!) You might also want to listen to Dutch radio stations or podcasts so that you can begin to tune into the conversation and accents. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you begin to pick up Dutch words and phrases as your own knowledge grows.

5. Take a Dutch language course

There are so many courses available at universities, colleges, adult learning centres and summer schools. These offer the advantage of face-to-face tuition, and teachers who may be native Dutch speakers. These courses often offer immersive learning, as described above, and this is a great way to rapidly develop your abilities and confidence. Do your research carefully if this is of interest, as the quality of individual courses varies. Look for courses which are accredited and which have recognisable language qualifications attached. Read student reviews and look at the experience of the tutors and language teachers. This can be an expensive option, sometimes involving accommodation and travel, so satisfy yourself that you will get to really learn Dutch to your desired level before you splash out. Similarly, you can also look for a 1-2-1 tutor, and either meet face-to-face or via Skype for your Dutch tuition.

6. Use apps and digital learning methods

There are various podcasts, e-learning modules, videos and apps now that offer Dutch language tuition, including Babbel (more of which below!). As with courses, the quality of each varies widely. Some are created by language institutions as part of fee-paying modules, and others are made by passionate language enthusiasts and fellow students who simply wish to share their passion and love for the Dutch language. Bear in mind that these types of digital content may not always be 100% accurate. If you are learning Dutch for business or professional purposes, you may wish to invest in a specific, business-Dutch learning method. If you are learning Dutch to broaden your horizons, challenge your brain or to connect with other Dutch speakers, you may be happier to peruse different types of user-generated content to see what’s out there.

Picking your preferred style and learning with Babbel

Which of these methods do you think will personally work for you? Most individuals will have their own preferred learning style when it comes to learning the Dutch language, and for the best results, will mix the techniques above. Babbel, our app, combines a number of these themes and methods in one place, with its unique, scientific method and course content giving you the ability to learn quickly in a highly immersive style. It is also available at the touch of a button whenever you have some free time - whilst commuting on the train, during a lunch break or in the evening when winding down.

The Babbel method is famous worldwide for its effectiveness and is already the preferred learning route for 5 million global users, as well as being highly affordable. Our didactic method has been created through the most rigorous academic research, using cherry-picked language coaching strategies that have survived the test of time. This results in a powerful language curriculum that is available at the tap of a finger, 24/7, taking you from zero to hero in no time at all! Even better, there are 14 learning languages to choose from and 9 display languages, so you really can become a polymath and a true global citizen.

However you learn Dutch, why not start your new language today and discover a fascinating new world of greater opportunities - and a happier brain as you take on an exciting new mental challenge. Whether you are looking for a new job, the chance to travel, or a broader social life (not to mention the chance to find love with a Nederlander) - it’s time to learn Dutch and broaden your horizons in the process! Get started today and you will never look back…