Resources for learning Dutch

Several people reading my language blogs on here are trying to learn Dutch, which, given that they don’t live anywhere near Holland, can be quite a feat. They asked me to list some resources that I would recommend for learning Dutch. So below I am listing the things that I think might work and why. When it comes to availability of these in other countries, I’m not entirely sure, but you will just have to try finding them. For buying Dutch books and/ or DVDs I would like to recommend Dutch online store: bol.com. They’re not cheap but they ship internationally.

One of my very first blogs on here were on tips for Non-native speakers of English, but they are pretty general and I feel they can be extended to learning other languages as well. Just click here to read that post and take from it what is useful for you.

Reading

The thing with reading is that you will have to start at a fairly easy level before you can move on to more advanced stuff. That is why I have listed mostly children’s books here, as well as some popular online Dutch news outlets.

  • Dutch news websites

Spits/ Metro/ Nu/ NRC Next/ Volkskrant

Dutch news websites (free) that pretty much copy/ paste press releases. Spits is fairly tabloid like. Metro and Nu are slightly more reputable. NRC Next and Volkskrant are actual reputable Dutch dailies, where NRC Next is tailored to younger people. If you are into opinions you can check GeenStijl or Joop.nl. GeenStijl are slighly right wing, whereas Joop.nl is more for lefties.

Every Dutch kid’s favorite duo! The books by Annie M.G. Schmidt are read to every Dutch kid ever since the stories first appeared in the late 50s. Generations have grown up reading her stories about 5 year old Jip (boy) and Janneke (girl) who live next door and have crazy adventures. It also provides a good introduction to Dutch culture. If you feel you wouldn’t be able to read them in Dutch just yet, you can also try the English version. Also check out this author’s other books. I swear by Pluk van de Petteflet and Otje, but those are slightly more difficult language wise.

If you feel you really up to some basic reading, then you can try Nijntje (English: Miffy). Childish as it is, the books feature short sentences and basic vocabulary and talk about every day, mundane things. Great for anyone just starting their Dutch endeavor.

More a comic book type person? No worries, Suske and Wiske may be Belgium in origin, but it is still written in Dutch. The stories are again mostly about a boy and a girl who have these adventures through many fantastical lands with the help of there scientist friend who owns a time machine.

Watching/ Listening

Watching TV is such an easy thing nowadays. You can try searching on youtube, and if it’s not on there, there are plenty of websites that allow you to watch TV programs. I will list my tips below.

Website where you can watch missed TV programs from the Dutch public television stations Ned. 1, Ned. 2, Ned. 3. My tips: klokhuis (informative show for children), jeugdjournaal (news for kids, but with  serious note). If you’re more advanced you could try De Wereld Draait Door (daily talk show on current affairs). Also links to Dutch digital television stations and documentaries on music, (Dutch) history (Andere Tijden is a great show on that), and other programs that have been taken out of regular programming.

Website where you can watch missed TV programs from the Dutch commercial television stations RTL 4, RTL 5, RTL 7 & RTL 8. These stations are heavy on the soap operas, so if you like that, you can try Holland’s longest running soap opera Goede Tijden Slechte Tijden. They also feature a bunch of entertainment shows such as The Voice of Holland, and shows on homes, gardening and cooking. I really enjoyed those latter types of programs when learning English myself. Even though they are often cheesy, they give you a bunch of every day vocabulary to work with. The most famous home improvement show is perhaps Eigen Huis & Tuin (if that’s still on).

  • Disney movies

But only when you buy them in the Dutch version! The Dutch version has both English and Dutch language options. So you can watch the Dutch movie with English subtitles, or the English movie with Dutch subtitles, depending on how you like it and how advanced you are.

Grammar/ Vocabulary

If you wish to brush up on your grammar there’s a few resources you can use. You can just buy some books on these topics and try to cram things into your head like you did in school, or you can go the modern way by trying online resources. Since there are so many Dutch grammar and vocab books on the market I do not feel comfortable giving you a decisive option. My tip for you is: when buying one try to find out how the book works and see if it fits your learning style.

Not the easiest website perhaps, but definitely interesting if you want to learn some advanced vocab. It features weekly posts on difficult, yet useful Dutch words.

This is quite possibly the most comprehensive website on Dutch grammar. And if you have any requests for me to elaborate on any grammatical topic, than feel free to leave a request on this blog and I will see what I can do for you.

Onze Taal is the organization behind explaining and organizing everything Dutch language related. They give advice, answer questions on pressing matters, mostly on words that look a lot alike, but are used differently as well as different spellings and usage of words. Handy, but not the easiest as it is aimed to be helpful for Dutch people too. They also have Twitter.

  • Youtube

I also found a youtube course on Dutch grammar, where someone talks you through several Dutch grammar subjects in English. Seems handy, but I have difficulty judging these things since I have no experience with learning how to speak Dutch myself.

Speaking

Speaking is perhaps the hardest thing to learn through distant sources. But I found these podcasts on a websited called Laura Speaks Dutch. It gives you a bit of English than says it in Dutch and then repeats slowly so you get used to the sounds. They also add in some Dutch concepts and cultural references.

Culture

Last but not least I want to draw your attention to Undutchables. This series features a website and books too, in English on strange Dutch habits, culture instances and the general way of life. I read it a few years ago and it has a good dose of humor so it’s a fun read, but after a while I got a bit tired of all the jokes. But perhaps that’s just because I am Dutch. This was clearly made to be enjoyed by expats.

Well there you go, quite a list if you ask me. I hope some of these links and tips you hadn’t found yet and that they are useful to you. The best tip I could possibly give you though is: practice. Only by doing it, you will learn. Language doesn’t just seep into your brain, but only when you try to use it actively and by making mistakes you will gradually get better. Just to put this into perspective: I’ve been learning English for 18 years and I’m still learning something new nearly every day. Hope you enjoyed this post and thank you for your time!

Fellow Dutchies: have any other tips/ resources for people to use when they want to learn Dutch?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. AWildDog says:

    I will definitely be looking these up when I’m all caught up with my reading.

    I have to say, being around it – or watching/hearing it is a good way. I guess I had a slight advantage knowing German which is quite similar but after being around you guys for a day – my brain made the transition smoother. It’s not that I knew every word you guys were saying, so I couldn’t translate word for word – but somethings I got the jist of what you were saying.

    Heck that first night at Gosia’s I was dreaming in Dutch which was HELLA confusing.

    1. indiequeen84 says:

      Hahah yeah exposure is still the best way!

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