Learning the Dutch language
Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands, you will read it and hear it everywhere. Although many people in the Netherlands have an excellent level of spoken English, learning to speak Dutch is not only practical for anything written and speaking to locals, it is also part of integrating yourself into the country and the culture.
Dutch is similar to English, German and Scandinavian languages, so it is easy to grasp for many international students.
Whether you want to grasp the basics before moving to the Netherlands or improve it throughout your stay here, here are some tips for you to get started on learning this unique language.
Dutch language courses can be taken online or with language schools. Some universities offer these courses for international students and possibly for free. Language centres also offer both physical and online classes. These are typically over half a semester, but intensive courses can also be taken during the summer.
Physical classes have the benefit of interaction with a teacher, and a more flexible way of learning which can adapt according to the student.
Online classes, however, have the benefit of being wherever you want, whenever you want.
Both are structured with extensive course material including books, videos, assignments and speaking in various scenarios.
The benefit of following an official Dutch course is that you get a certificate proving your level once you have completed it.
Most courses certify your language level according to the CEFR classification, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This classification has six levels you may have heard of, A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. The benefit of this system is that it is a simple and effective way to show academic organisations, employers or any other person your level of language.
The two most popular language apps for learning Dutch are Duolingo and Babbel.
Babbel courses are paying, but resemble the traditional language courses more.
Duolingo is free, and has a more fun and relaxed approach to learning languages, but is just as effective if you want some basics.
Language books such as Colloquial Dutch by Bruce Donaldson are also effective ways to learn by yourself. These are often accompanied by online material and allow you to follow step-by-step lessons. You can also get some fun facts about language, culture and history!
Although books allow you to be independent learners, it is also important to practice in real-life. 😉
Check out some Dutch YouTubers that can help you get familiar with the language: Enzo Knol, Kalvijn and Milan Knol are famous for their fun videos.
Pro-tip from us: watch Dutch movies or series, you will learn a decent amount of Dutch without realising it, and you get a head-start on getting a Dutch accent.
Dutch news and TV shows are also a great place to start.