If you've been bitten by the travel bug and long to visit Amsterdam, Den Bosch or Leiden in the Netherlands to experience the culture, history and food first hand, you may wish to consider a short course to learn Dutch before you travel.
Alternatively, perhaps you are one of the 0.3% of Australians who identify as having Dutch ancestry, and you or your children want to know more about the culture and language of your ancestors, beyond the standard tourist vocabulary. Maybe you just like the challenge of learning new languages? Either way, enrolling in Dutch lessons would be a good start.
Whatever reason you have for learning to speak native language of the Netherlands, your first step is to start looking for a course that meets your needs.
Superprof is here to help you.
If you've read this far, you probably already know some great reasons to start
Dutch lessons, but let's start by seeing if we're able to come up with a few more.
Travel and Other Great Reasons to Start Learning Dutch
The Netherlands is more than just tulips, clogs, windmills and cheese. And while Amsterdam really is a must-see, the rest of the country has so much to offer.
Dare to veer off the tourist trail
If you're going to the trouble of learning Dutch phrases, vocabulary and grammar, you might as well practise being able to speak in natural conversation.
A great way to do this is to grab a bicycle for the day, explore the streets of Amsterdam or get out into the countryside and make the effort to stop and speak to the locals. Not only will you put your new phrases to good use, you'll discover experiences you may have otherwise missed.
Let your inner foodie loose
In Australia, poffertjes (those morish pancake puffs served with butter and powdered sugar) can now be found at almost every market food stall, and there is an increasing number of online stores that stock products from the Netherlands.
Start polishing your vocabulary and pronunciation, and use your new speaking skills to order stroopwafel (hot syrup waffles), bitterballen (deep fried meat ragout balls) or erwtensoep (pea soup).
Every region has its own variations on classic dishes and snacks, as well as cheeses and craft beers. Come on now, you know you want this!
Converse with a native speaker
There is no better way to improve your language skills than to get in some authentic practice with a native speaker.
All languages have their own localised vocabulary, slang expressions and abbreviations, and Dutch is no different. Locals also use a number of words and expressions that have no literal English translation—gezellig, he he and lekker to name a few.
Broaden your world with Dutch movies, television and radio
When you're learning a language, listening to the way people speak in normal, day to day conversation is good practice. Plus, you'll be able to enjoy the best of the Netherlands' entertainment.
Benefits of language learning
Most people know the benefits you gain when you learn a second language:
- improved understanding of English grammar
- psychological and cognitive advantages
- greater ability to learn further languages
Plus, the added bonus is that Dutch is easy to learn for the English native speaker owing to the similarities.
What are you waiting for? Superprof has some great lessons and resources to help you make a start.
Where to Access Dutch Lessons and Resources to Help You Learn
There are sixteen languages, including Auslan and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, listed in the Australian Foundation to Year 10 curriculum—however, Dutch is not one of them. This does not mean you are not able to learn it in Australia, it just means you need to search for other sources.
While there are not as many institutions offering face-to-face courses for students who want to learn Dutch compared to Chinese or French, there are a number of online or private options available throughout Australia.
Studying this way requires students to be motivated and determined, but you won't be entirely on your own. Superprof is here to support you with tutors, resources and study tips.
The Superprof platform hosts over 100 tutors who offer Dutch lessons online. You will be able to easily find a teacher to suit your level and meet your lesson goals, whether they're speaking, pronunciation, grammar or practice for a proficiency exam.
Make sure you get yourself the following resource basics as well:
A really good Dutch dictionary
Wherever you look, the recommendations point to Van Dale dictionaries. Although they are comprehensive and produced for every level from early school age to advanced academic, they are intended for native speakers, so definitions are not in English. If you're a beginner, you may prefer The New Routledge & Van Dale Dutch Dictionary which is less comprehensive but has colloquial terms, pronunciation guides and the gender marked for all nouns. There are many online dictionaries as well.
A Grammar dictionary
Look for a grammar dictionary with good reviews, such as Essential Dutch Grammar or Concise Dutch Grammar, designed to be suitable for all levels.
Spoken Dutch for listening practice
Aural skills can be difficult to develop out of country, so try to get access to some of the following:
- television or radio news from the Netherlands (often available through SBS)
- free app platforms, including Duolingo, Babbel or Drops
- podcasts (in Dutch and English on a range of cultural and current affairs)
- browse through YouTube videos to find ones that are useful or of interest
Another highly recommended resource for independent study is DutchPod101. This platform offers audio and video lessons by native teachers, and a community chat forum where you can connect with students from all over the world. They offer a free trial and a free mobile app as well.
However, nothing beats having a private teacher to keep students on track and to provide that all valuable practice and instant feedback. Superprof tutors are keen to help you, and many offer the first lesson for free.
Senior Secondary (Year 11 and 12) and Tertiary Language Study
While Dutch is generally not offered as part of the Australian Curriculum for Foundation to Year 10, students in Years 11 and 12 may be able to study Dutch towards their higher school certificate. New South Wales offers the Dutch Continuers course of study. Other states would need to check with their education directorates.
At a tertiary level, some Australian universities, including the Australian National University and The University of Queensland, offer Dutch courses. There are sometime also scholarships available to undertake tertiary level studies in the Netherlands.
On the downside, you might be wondering why you would bother with secondary level Dutch if there are so few tertiary study opportunities, let alone chances to prove your proficiency.
Proving Your Dutch Language Proficiency
If you are planning on working long term in the Netherlands or undertaking a postgraduate course, you may be expected to provide certification indicating your language level or proficiency.
Finding a comprehensive course to equip you with the skills you need to read, comprehend and communicate at a higher level can be difficult in Australia. Once you've conquered this first step, and put the effort into improving your language proficiency, it is natural to want to have something to show for it—whether this is necessary for your future goals, or just for you personally.
For people who would just like that sense of achievement gained from assessment results, students can undertake an assessment of their language level on some online platforms, including Language Trainers.
If you're looking for more targeted exams to prove your proficiency, anywhere from tourist Dutch through to near native competency, you may wish to consider the NT2 exam or other language certification processes in the Netherlands.
Some people may be intending to migrate to the Netherlands. Students in this category must, by law, undergo het Inburgeringsexamen, the civic integration exam. To pass, candidates must not only prove their ability to write, speak, listen and read, but also demonstrate their understanding of Dutch society and the labour market.
People have multiple reasons for wanting to learn a new language. The availability of courses and the absence of a listing in the formal Australian Curriculum should not deter students from pursuing proficiency in a language they are passionate about.
As we've outlined here, Dutch should definitely be on your list. From its quirky expressions and similarity to English through to the country's beautiful scenery and delicious food, the Dutch culture and language are well worth exploring.
Start your journey with a Superprof tutor today.