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Learned Dutch? How did you do it?

I'd like to learn Dutch -- maybe with an iPhone app. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Posted by
9363 posts

Try an app called Duolingo. It's free and very easy to use.

Posted by
54 posts

I second Duolingo, but also - do you have a university near you? You could post a classified ad asking someone to tutor you.

Posted by
2487 posts

I'm not familiar with Duolingo, but pronunciation is almost as important as translation.

Posted by
1980 posts

Can access a 30 lesson Pimsleur course via your local library account for free. Available from a site called Oneclickdigital...a shared resource among all US libraries. You can then download the 30 minute lessons directly onto your Ipod, Iphone, etc. for playback at your leisure.

Posted by
12040 posts

What is your goal? To be able to understand key words and phrases? To be able to read a menu? To be able to understand Dutch-language radio and TV? Or to be able to carry on a conversation well enough so that the native Dutch speaker won't automatically revert to English the second you open your mouth? Because if it's the latter... it took me about 5 years, thousands of hours of study, and several weeks of intense language emersion at a top-quality institute before I reached that level. To be blunt, it isn't an easy language for native English speakers. Maybe quite a bit easier if you already know German.

Posted by
103 posts

I tried to learn Dutch once with the goal of being able to have simple conversations with Dutch people and had a terrible time. One huge complication for me was which definite article to use with each noun (het or de). Unlike French, pocket dictionaries didn't specify which article goes with which noun -- at that time, at least, I would have had to buy a very expensive multi-volume hard cover dictionary to get that information which then had to be memorized for each noun. Other things were also going on in my life, and I gave up. I wish you more success if that's your goal.

I do have a hint for reading signs, maps, and other printed matter. Unlike English, Dutch is pretty consistent phonetically. If you can learn how the vowels and diphthongs are pronounced and sound out words, you may recognize them. Take the word huis for example. Once you learn that ui in Dutch is pronounced like ou in English, it becomes easy to figure out that the word means house. And so forth.

Posted by
1548 posts

Ik ben ook van mening dat de Nederlandse taal niet gemakkelijk is om te leren. Maar het is wel leuk om er al een beetje kennis met te maken en te weten wat bepaalde alledaagse woorden betekenen. Zoals waar je een winkel kan vinden of waar het station is om de trein te nemen, hoe elkaar te groeten enz. Je toont belangstelling en dat is een goed begin en wens ik je daarom veel succes.

Posted by
2487 posts

... and had a terrible time
A small consolation is that German, which is supposed to be a variety of Dutch or the other way around, is much more difficult. And try those Slav languages...
It's already useful to able to pronounce place and street names in a way which more or less resembles Dutch.
And no, the »ui« in »huis« is not pronounced as the English »ou«. That's German!

Posted by
12040 posts

"ui" is probably the hardest Dutch phoneme for English speakers to pronounce. Even more so than the "g". There's no real equivalent.

Posted by
2487 posts

probably the hardest Dutch phoneme
This http://blogs.transparent.com/dutch/the-ui-conundrum/ shows it's indeed not the simplest of Dutch sounds, but inot totally impossible to master. When you've arrived at that stage, you really belong to the club. But first the »ij« and »ei«!
Some time ago I discovered this handy http://forvo.com/languages/ which gives the pronuncation of tens of thousands of words and names for a whole range of languages.

Posted by
227 posts

True , the " ui " is not pronounced as an English " ou " but have you heard how Canadians ( and people in U.S. states bordering Canada ) pronounce the " ou " ? Almost , but not quite , a dutch " ui ".

Posted by
109 posts

Wow -- what an amazing set of replies.
I know it is a difficult language. And I do know that the words can start to seem familiar. I was just in Amsterdam for 7 weeks for the first time, and my ability to sort of read a lot of signs magically improved over time -- I think it does help to be able to sound them out.
I'll try to start with the Duolingo (I had run into it but didn't know if there is something better), and also get to the Pimsleur lessons.
I don't ever imagine I"ll get to where I'm a fluent conversationalist, but it would be wonderful to be able to roughly get along through a day of reading and some hearing.
And thanks, Wil, for the Google Translate exercise. :-)

Posted by
1548 posts

Graag gedaan Theresa. :-)

Be a bit carefull where to go and not learning a local dialect, like “Mokums” or "Jordaans" in Amsterdam. As far as I know Haarlem is the best place to learn our language as I think they speak the best Dutch.

Posted by
12040 posts

but have you heard how Canadians ( and people in U.S. states bordering Canada ) pronounce the " ou " ? Almost , but not quite , a dutch " ui ".

I was going to say, yes, that's about the closest I've heard.

Back to the original question... you can start with Rosetta Stone, which can give you at least a minimal overview of how sentences are formed and a very basic vocabulary. I preferred the "Tell Me More" series, which introduces much more natural speech than the standardized mechanical sentences you see on Rosetta Stone ("The little boy stands behind the red car- De kleine jongen staat achter de rode auto"), but I think the Rosetta Stone company phased out the product after they bought the company.

If you want a daily vocabularly list sent to your email, try "Learn With Oliver".

When you get the basics of grammar and you have a fairly large vocabulary of words, try Taalblad.be. This site features essays written in not-too-difficult language and online grammar exercises.

When learning any language, it's important that your brain accustoms itself to the rhythm and tones of the new language. Try to listen to Dutch daily, if you can. You can try streaming radio at 100% NL. The majority of the music on this station is Dutch only.
Also, because newsreaders world-wide tend to speak very clearly in a neutral accent, watch the news from the Netherlands and Flanders. For Flanders, go to VTM. For the Netherlands, NOS.

If you live in Amsterdam and registered at the City Hall, you can apply to the course for free offered by the Municipality of Amsterdam. It is a program also for beginners, of the duration of one year (extendable to other levels) they provide you with the study material and the lessons will be two days a week (evening or morning as you prefer) three hours per day.

Posted by
26090 posts

Welcome to our little family, Bastian.

Are you in Amsterdam?