If you have always wanted to learn Dutch, you’re nowhere near alone; tens of thousands of people study the language every day around the world. And it’s no wonder! Dutch is a language that captures a rich culture and history. The Dutch language can take you around the world, from Europe to the Caribbean and even to the islands of Oceania.
But you might have a lot of questions about why you should learn Dutch or what it takes to get started — or why it’s even worthwhile at all. The good news is you can rest assured that learning the Dutch language is an effort worth undertaking. With the right tools and technology to guide you in your journey, you’ll see your efforts pay off in so many ways.
Basic Dutch Lesson For Beginners
Why Learn Dutch?
Learning any new tongue is a challenge that can open up your mind to new perspectives and help you connect with all types of people across boundaries of land and language. When it comes to learning Dutch, these reasons are especially true.
To start, if you know the Dutch language, you open yourself up to a whole world of Dutch speakers that spans continental borders. There are roughly 23 million people on Earth who speak Dutch as a first language, and about 4 million outside of that who speak it to some degree. And Dutch is the official language of 5 countries!
You’ll obviously find Dutch all over the Netherlands, but did you know that there are whole populations of Dutch speakers in places like Aruba and the Antilles islands in the Caribbean and Suriname in South America as well as in the United States and Canada?
You might want to learn Dutch for its links to other world languages. Dutch, a Western Germanic language, is closely related to all of the other languages in the same family, like German and English — and just a little bit more distantly related to other Germanic languages like Swedish and Norwegian.
Native speakers of English will be relieved to learn that because Dutch and English share a common linguistic ancestor, Dutch is considered one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn! The two languages are very similar in their sentence structures and vocabulary; there are a lot of words in Dutch that resemble their English counterparts.
That means it can often be quite easy to read a Dutch sentence and get the gist of it in English. If you speak German, you’ll also likely pick up on a lot of similarities between Dutch and German, too.
Whether it helps you master other Germanic languages faster and more easily or it gives you a new understanding of the English you already speak, there’s no doubt that if you learn Dutch, you’ll have a learning advantage right from the start!
Benefits Of Learning Dutch
Picking up a new skill can help you express your creativity, stimulate your mind, and discover new sides of yourself along the way. Learning a new language like Dutch is no exception! Here are just a few of the many ways you can make a positive impact on your life if you learn Dutch.
- Learn Dutch For Travel — When the spirit of adventure strikes, don’t let language barriers hold you back. When you have Dutch in your back pocket, you have a passport to many new corners of the world. Learning Dutch not only means you’ll be able to navigate new cities by reading road signs, menus, and train tickets; it also lets you connect with the new people you meet there. It’s often said that the best way to explore a new place is through the eyes of a local, and learning Dutch lets you branch out of tourist hotspots and into the real world as the native speakers see it. Whether it’s the canals of Amsterdam or the beaches of Suriname, you’ll be more equipped to venture off the beaten path and explore all the Dutch-speaking world has to offer when you have Dutch in your linguistic repertoire.
- Live The Dutch Language Abroad — Whether you’re looking to enroll at a foreign university and have a more alternative college experience, find a job at a hostel that lets you hit the tourist hotspots by day and work at night, or retire in a place with a slower pace of life, living abroad is hands down the best hands-on approach to getting the most immersive language experience possible. By placing yourself in an environment where you’re obligated to speak Dutch, you’ll fast-track your journey to fluency. Your life can take on new twists and turns when you move to an unfamiliar place, and there’s so much of the Dutch-speaking world to explore. When you learn Dutch, you open up a gateway to a robust, colorful, and novel life adventure!
- Build Your Business Dutch Skills — Today the world is more connected economically than ever before. The sweeping tides of globalization mean that companies and organizations today are operating across international borders and boundaries. If you’re a professional looking for ways to stay competitive and current in the global market, learning Dutch is a no-brainer for success. The European continent is an emerging market full of opportunity for businesses. Learning the Dutch language is a fantastic way to connect with colleagues in other countries, score new clients, build strong relationships with Dutch-speaking partners and investors, and to show off the multicultural, international, and inclusive nature of your brand.
- Use Language To Train Your Brain — Building any new skill is a surefire way to expand your intellectual horizons. Learning Dutch is an especially sound way to keep your brain flexible and nimble, especially as you grow older. Picking up a new language involves making connections between words and what they represent, taking apart and putting together grammatical structures, spontaneously speaking and thinking on your feet, sticking with a challenge when it’s frustrating and confusing, and a whole lot of active listening. There are few better ways to exercise your mental muscles than by learning Dutch.
- Immerse Yourself In Dutch Culture, Unfiltered — Learning Dutch opens you up not only to a better understanding of the language itself but also of the arts and culture of the world that speaks it. To read the literature of decorated Dutch-speaking writers like Gerard Reve, Willem Frederik Hermans and Annie M.G. Schmidt is to engage with the language in some of its most beautiful and colorful expressions. Through the lens of Dutch you get a more active immersion in more contemporary Dutch-language media like podcasts, radio shows, audiobooks, and TV shows. The stories and recipes of world-renowned culinary creations like bitterballen, the dialogue of famous Dutch films, and the lyrics of classic Dutch songs all become accessible to you when you learn the Dutch language. And if you’re from a family with Dutch-speaking elders and ancestors but you don’t know the language yourself, learning Dutch is an excellent way to connect with your heritage.
Learn Dutch Basics: Dutch Lesson For Beginners
Learning Dutch Pronunciation, The Dutch Alphabet And Dutch Accents
Dutch pronunciation isn’t too confusing for non-native Dutch speakers, especially because letters of the Dutch alphabet (the same as the English alphabet) typically only have one sound associated with them in a particular context. Knowing how these contexts change the sound of a letter can be tricky, though. For example, the letter d sounds like the “d” in “dog” when at the beginning of a word like dat (“that”) but like the “t” in “cart” at the end of a word like woord (“word”).
Though many sounds between Dutch and English are the same or very similar, the Dutch language has a unique spelling system and specific pronunciations that must be learned separately from English — including many somewhat unfamiliar consonant sounds, vowel combinations (called diphthongs), and vowels that can be pronounced as either “short” or “long,” to name a few. For example, word like raam (“window”) features a long a sound and a rolled r sound; to know how to read a Dutch word and pronounce it correctly, you’ll need to put in some practice studying Dutch pronunciation.
Don’t worry if you can’t master a typical Dutch accent or Dutch pronunciation right away; it takes time and practice! The best way to remember these rules is just to practice over and over, especially by reading texts out loud. Watching Dutch TV and movies or listening to Dutch-language podcasts, radio and film can certainly help you master Dutch pronunciation and sound like a native Dutch speaker.
Learning Dutch vocabulary isn’t as hard as you might think. It takes time and practice, you’ll find there are a lot of Dutch words and phrases that are connected with English expressions you already know.
As mentioned above, Dutch is one of the most closely related languages to English. That means there are a lot of cognates between Dutch and English — words in Dutch whose meaning you’ll likely be able to figure out pretty easily because they stem from the same root word. When you see the Dutch words kat, zeven or beter, for example, you’ll probably have no trouble guessing their English equivalents.
Basics Of Dutch Grammar
Dutch Verbs And Dutch Verb Conjugations
Verbs are key elements of any Dutch sentence. Whenever you want to express that someone or something does some action or is something else, you need a Dutch verb.
You can start to recognize when a word you come across is a Dutch verb by noticing the word’s ending. Verbs in their most basic form (called the infinitive form) end in -n, with most ending in -en, like the verbs komen (“to come”) and zitten, “to sit.”
To be used in actual Dutch sentences, these verbs need to be conjugated, which is a technical way of saying that each Dutch verb requires a special ending depending on the subject of the verb (who or what is doing the action of the verb). Dutch verbs can be considered either “strong” or “weak” depending on how their conjugations change the vowel sounds in the verb’s stem.
Knowing how to conjugate Dutch verbs is essential to being able to express yourself in Dutch, and you’ll likely spend a large part of your Dutch learning journey focusing on the grammar of Dutch verbs. Once you master them, you’ll be well on your way to speaking Dutch with fluency.
Dutch Nouns And Dutch Gender
Each Dutch noun has a gender, meaning it’s classified as masculine (mannelijk), feminine (vrouwelijk) or neuter (onzijdig). This doesn’t mean that every person, place, object or idea is inherently male, female or neutral; it’s just a system of grammatical categorization that exists in Dutch and many other world languages that affects how speakers use these languages.
Gender in Dutch becomes important when considering which definite article (the English word “the”) pairs with each noun. Masculine and feminine nouns take the definite article de, like in the words de man (“the man”) and de slager (“the butcher”), both masculine words, and in de vrouw (“the woman”) and de waarheid (“the truth”), both feminine words. Neuter words take the article het, like the word het boek (“the book”) or het kind (“the child”). All plural words take the article de regardless of their gender, like de mannen (“the men”), de kinderen (“the children”) or de boeken (“the books”). You can clue into the gender of a word sometimes by looking at its ending, too; words with the diminutive ending -je like huisje (“little house”) take the article het, for example. A major part of learning Dutch nouns involves memorizing their gender classifications, so it’s important to practice this concept!
Luckily, Dutch, like English, did away with the pesky case marking system on nouns and their articles that stuck around in other Germanic languages. If you’ve ever learned or tried to learn German, you know that it can be a nightmare to try to figure out when to use the definite articles der, die or das—among several others. There is no case marking in Dutch, meaning using definite and indefinite articles (“the” and “a”) is a much simpler process than in many other Germanic languages.
When discussing Dutch nouns, we must also talk about Dutch adjectives. Adjectives in Dutch, or words that describe the properties and characteristics of nouns, take different endings depending on their position relative to the noun they’re describing. There are a few rules about Dutch adjectives you’ll get to know as you learn Dutch, like how an adjective usually comes before the noun it modifies and can take a different ending depending on several factors — like the noun’s gender, whether it’s singular or plural, and the article that comes before it (de, het or een, the indefinite article meaning “a”).
As you learn Dutch, you’ll get to know the rules governing how Dutch nouns and adjectives behave in certain situations. It’s all part of the process of learning Dutch grammar!
Basic Dutch Phrases And Dutch Greetings
To speak like a native Dutch speaker, there are certain must-know Dutch phrases and expressions that will help you navigate your way through a conversation.
The best place to start, of course, is with “hello”! There are many common greetings in Dutch to choose from, the most popular of which include hallo! and the more casual hoi!. You can also choose among goedemorgen (literally “good day”) if it’s before noon, goedemiddag (“good afternoon”) between noon and about 6pm, and if it’s later, goedenavond or even goedenacht (“good evening” or “good night”).
You’ll get familiar with basic Dutch phrases like Hoe gaat het? (“How’s it going?”) or the popular Alles goed? (“Everything good?”).
If you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’ll want to talk about who you are and perhaps where you’re from. To say your name, you can say Ik heet X (“I call myself X”) or Mijn naam is X (“My name is X”). You can also say Ik ben X, or “I am X.” To find out other people’s names, you can ask Hoe heet je? (“How do you call yourself?”) or Wat is jouw naam? (“What is your name?”). The way to say where you come from in Dutch is Ik kom uit X (“I come from X”), and to ask where someone is from, you can say Waar kom je vandaan? (“Where do you come from?”).
To say goodbye in Dutch, Dag! and Doei! are classic go-tos, but there are plenty of other great options like Tot ziens! (“See you later!”).
There are many other useful conversational Dutch words, phrases and expressions you’ll get to know as you learn Dutch, from alsjeblieft (“please”), dank je wel (“thank you”) and graag gedaan (“you’re welcome”) to Waar is X? (“Where is X?”) and Spreekt u Engels?, or “Do you speak English?”
When you learn these Dutch phrases and hundreds more like them, you’ll be better able to communicate with native Dutch speakers with ease.
Ways To Learn Dutch
There is no right answer when it comes to how to learn Dutch — or any new language. With so many options for your language journey, it’s no surprise that choosing a learning style or method can be overwhelming!
Of the millions of people who speak and study Dutch as a non-native language, you’ll find folks who have used all sorts of resources to learn the language, some free, some fairly cheap, and some more of a financial investment. There’s no right combination, and it’s up to you to decide which methods work best for you to learn Dutch.
What's The Quickest And Easiest Way To Learn Dutch?
You’ll find that the fastest and easiest way to learn Dutch is the way that offers you the least amount of friction — so if you can’t stand shuffling through textbook pages or you get bored flipping Dutch flashcards, you might want to stick to a method that’s more exciting or engaging. Knowing yourself is key to success. Here are just a few of the ways to learn Dutch quickly:
- in a __classroom setting__ or with one-on-one instruction from a __Dutch teacher or tutor__
- with paid or free online __Dutch courses, classes, software or apps__
- with __Dutch media resources__ like __podcasts__, __playlists__, __books__, __movies__ and __TV shows__
Learning Dutch In The Classroom
Dutch is among the top studied languages in school systems and universities around the world. Dutch classroom learning is the most popular option for learners in grade school or university settings. It allows more intensive, regular study with feedback from teachers who know the Dutch language and can correct mistakes as they happen and teach content in an interactive way. Depending on how large a class is and how engaged the teacher is, learning in a classroom might be a less personalized experience, but having other students to talk to and practice with is a valuable resource for a learner of any language.
Though full-time students make up a large proportion of Dutch classroom learners, plenty of adults enroll in Dutch classes, too. Many cities and communities offer free or fairly cheap language classes, and you’ll be very likely to find them in popular languages like Dutch. Though a full-time job might limit your schedule, a commitment to a once- or twice-weekly Dutch class after work or on the weekends can really improve your Dutch language skills in a measurable way.
Learning Dutch With A Dutch Tutor
Private Dutch tutoring offers a more tailored learning experience than traditional classroom learning with many of the advantages. Having a skilled Dutch tutor at hand who can help you perfect your pronunciation and work with you closely on the aspects of Dutch that cause you trouble is a great way to improve your skills fast — without a teacher needing to split time and attention among multiple students. And Dutch tutoring doesn’t have to be inconvenient at all; many sessions can and do take place over video call instead of in person.
But the often steep costs of such individualized instruction can be a barrier to many learners. Well trained master Dutch tutors often charge high hourly rates for their lessons, so finding a top-quality, budget-friendly option can be challenging.
Software and Online Dutch Courses
There are many top-notch, expert-designed online Duch courses and programs that run from reasonably priced to very expensive. They allow you to learn Dutch on your own time and are often more interactive and engaging than many free courses and resources. Plus, many of the best products out there are constantly updated with new, fresh material, so you can get the most relevant Dutch learning experience available.
Can You Learn Dutch For Free?
All of the above options have one thing in common: they cost money. For those learners who want to be more conscious of their budgets or are okay to spend more time finding and working with more cost-effective content, there are still plenty of options to learn Dutch for free or for cheap!
Free Online Dutch Courses And Apps For Learning Dutch
There’s no shortage of free Dutch courses, apps and content you can find on the web and on your phone. From Dutch grammar wikis to online forums and Dutch classes, you’re sure to find hundreds of options that might do the trick. Some of them are better than others in the ways they’re organized and how thoroughly they explain new concepts, so take them with a grain of salt.
Be aware that the tradeoff of a free product is that it usually sacrifices quality. Much of the content that’s in free apps or that’s scattered around the web comes from user-generated translations that are rarely verified and are often inconsistent or riddled with errors. These lessons often focus on writing and reading without much of a way to improve listening and speaking skills. And be wary that free interactive Dutch lessons like these can often be basic, poorly designed, messy, rigid, and just downright boring — not to mention littered with ads.
That’s not to say these Dutch resources can’t be helpful! But it’s important to know how and where to fill in the gaps in your language learning journey when certain content isn’t enough.
Learning Dutch With Native Dutch Speakers
Tandem learning is a technique where two people who speak different native languages meet up to help each other learn, swapping roles as teacher and student. For example, if you spend one hour teaching a friend who’s a native Dutch speaker something about English, he or she would then spend the next hour teaching Dutch to you. This is an effective method when both people are able to commit significant time and thought to the partnership, but keep in mind that not everyone is a good teacher. Explaining why your native language works the way it does is often easier said than done; you might understand English grammar subconsciously and use it flawlessly all the time but not be able to explain to a Dutch person or Dutch speaker the rules that govern how you’re supposed to use that grammar.
Immersion Dutch Learning
Dutch immersion programs or some form of immersive Dutch language travel are definitely the most extreme and intensive ways to learn a new language, and they’re not for everyone. (They’re also not technically free if you count airfare to a new place and all the costs of living associated with wherever you go.) But without a doubt, immersing yourself in a new culture and a place that doesn’t speak your language and surrounding yourself with native Dutch speakers will force you to make rapid progress in Dutch or another target language as you struggle to communicate and understand those around you.
Of course, you’ll want to start with at least a little foundation in a new language before picking up your life and plunging yourself into a completely foreign locale. Using resources like Babbel, language textbooks and Dutch classes, and practice with Dutch native speakers can all help you prepare before you make a big transition through Dutch immersion.
Useful Dutch Media To Learn Dutch For Free Or Cheap
When you don’t have access to Dutch classes and teachers or even native Dutch speakers, there are still plenty of Dutch media resources to help you get on your way to fluency in Dutch. Most of them can be accessed for free online or from a library or found for very cheap — or even through a subscription for a streaming service like Netflix or Spotify you’re likely already paying for!
Books To Learn Dutch
If you like to read, you’ll find a whole range of literature written in Dutch that can help you master the Dutch language. There are thousands of Dutch books that make great learning resources for beginner and intermediate Dutch learners, from children’s books like Minoes, perfect for beginner learners, to longer, more substantive reads like the historical fiction novels *Oorlogswinter * and the more advanced De Anslaag.
Using books to learn Dutch is a great way to sharpen your reading skills and to understand how the Dutch language is used in a whole wide range of contexts, from historical fiction to fairy tales to personal essays to collections of short stories to nonfiction and everything in between. Reading books in Dutch helps you move at your own pace, and you can stop to consult a Dutch dictionary if you need extra help along the way. Keeping a language journal of unfamiliar Dutch words and expressions helps you build your vocabulary. Plus, you can get some extra speaking and Dutch pronunciation practice by reading the book aloud.
Learning Dutch With Audio Lessons, Dutch Songs And Dutch Podcasts
There are many online Dutch audio lessons you can find that can teach you the basics of Dutch vocabulary and grammar without needing to look at a page or a screen. Dutch audio lessons are great for multitasking; you can listen to them in the car or in the background of another activity, like commuting to work, cooking dinner or taking a walk in your neighborhood.
Similarly, Dutch podcasts and Dutch audiobooks are a great way to learn passively while you do something else that requires your visual attention. Luckily, there are lots of audio resources to pick from, and many of them are free. Dutch podcasts like Zeg Het In Het Nederlands are great for beginners and cover a wide range of topics, and others like Echt Gebeurd have a narrative style that’s more suitable for advanced learners.
And listening to Dutch songs can be a great learning method, too. With songs, a chorus or group of lyrics is often repeated more than once, giving you plenty of opportunities to hear lyrics over and over. You can find many playlists of Dutch songs on Spotify that are often organized by proficiency level, too, from beginner playlists to more advanced ones.
It’s important to keep in mind that to really master a language, you’ve got to do more than just listening to it; you’ll probably want to supplement audio with ways to practice writing, reading, and speaking Dutch, too.
Learning With Dutch TV Shows And Dutch Movies
Watching Dutch movies and Dutch TV shows is an excellent way to connect with the Dutch language in a fun, engaging format. You can find a lot of good Dutch-language content of all different genres and for all learning proficiency levels on streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime.
When you’re watching, you can choose to display subtitles in Dutch for some extra reading practice. Try to avoid watching media dubbed in your native language, as you won’t end up hearing any Dutch! If the dialogue is too fast, you can pause what you’re watching to give yourself a chance to process what you’re hearing and look up and write down unfamiliar words. And when you use movies and TV series to learn Dutch, don’t be afraid to break them up into chunks to give your brain some rest.
Learning Dutch With Babbel
The goal of learning any language is to have real-life conversations with native speakers. So a language learning app should be designed to get you to that goal in the best way possible. It’s important to dedicate the time and effort to practicing with discipline, but outside of your own personal commitment, you’ve got to have technology that knows how to help you most effectively along the way.
Luckily, Babbel is designed by a team of language experts, educators, and designers who know all about what it takes to get the most out of learning a new language — so you are guaranteed a top-quality Dutch learning journey that’s capable, engaging, and yes, even fun.
Here are the key ways Babbel Dutch lessons are crafted to get you having real-life conversations in Dutch with confidence, and all for less cost per month than your morning coffee.
The Full Spectrum Of Language Learning
Learning a foreign language is an endeavor of many dimensions. It takes a lot of skills and patience to learn how to start speaking on the spot, to write a text to a friend, or to translate dialogue you hear from a TV show in your target language.
We know how to make these elements work together to your advantage. Babbel’s lessons are interactive and cover all the aspects of learning Dutch — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — with multimedia Dutch content to train your ears and eyes. Our speech recognition feature even helps you hone your Dutch pronunciation, too.
Dutch Learning On Your Terms
One of the best parts of learning with Babbel is being able to fit lessons in seamlessly when you want them and where you want them. Our bite-size lessons take roughly between 10 and 20 minutes to complete and can be squeezed into your already busy schedule, whether you’re on your commute or waiting for a pot of water to boil as you cook dinner.
With Babbel, you can pick and choose the topics and themes that are most relevant to you. Taking a trip soon? Brush up on the Dutch you’ll need for travel and navigating new places. Need to sharpen your Dutch for an upcoming business meeting? Our Dutch language courses have you covered.
The iOS and Android apps are fully integrated with the web application. And your progress is saved in the cloud and synced across all devices — so you can learn Dutch anytime, anywhere.
Learn Dutch — And Make Sure It Sticks
What good is committing to learning a foreign language if you’ll forget it before you even have a chance to use it? That’s why your personalized Babbel Review feature is optimized to help you retain the information you’re learning.
It takes advantage of the concept of microlearning, or bringing back information in short bursts to help you hold on to it better. You can practice writing, listening to, and speaking the Dutch phrases, terms and expressions you’ve learned in your earlier lessons to lock them into your brain.
For Dutch Learning, Try Babbel
We’re committed to making sure you get the most out of learning Dutch. We offer a free first lesson in every language so you can get a feel for if Babbel works for you. And if you don’t like it, we have a 20-day money-back guarantee — no questions asked.
Try a free Dutch lesson with Babbel and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be on your way to speaking Dutch with confidence — like you’ve always wanted to!
Check out our other learning topics about Dutch:
Best Way To Learn Dutch
How To Speak Dutch