If you long to walk the streets of Amsterdam or Utrecht or any other of the Netherlands’ major cities, or you would like to see for yourself the vast fields of tulips in bloom, you may have already concluded that you should learn to speak Dutch.
If you have had the pleasure of enjoying bitterballen with your pint in some intimate club off the beaten path in Rotterdam or photographed those iconic windmills guarding the fields of Holland, you may be captivated by Dutch language and culture as we speak. Lucky you!
Your Superprof has something for you whether you are of the first category or the second.
Here, we help you to continue your Dutch studies by providing a list of resources to learn with and direct you to ways you can certify your language acquisition.
You will also discover some great reasons to learn Dutch... as if you needed any!
Let’s kick this article off with that topic and find out how much we’re in accord, shall we?
Why Learn Dutch: A Few Great Reasons
We’ve just mentioned the fantastic variety of delicious foods to be sampled in the Netherlands – well, mentioned one tasty treat, anyway. Now, let’s talk about seasonal goodies, to be had only in the winter months and especially around Christmas time.
Just as bitterballen are the perfect accompaniment to you favourite brew, nothing says holidays are close like oliebollen: calorific taste bombs that are so enticing you might end up eating an entire serving before you know it.
In these colder months, you will find oliebollen vendors popping up all over Dutch cityscapes. Beware if your waistline is a major concern: they are exceedingly hard to resist!
Another seasonal favourite is the kerststol, a sweet bread filled with marzipan and dried fruit that is generally consumed with a warm glass of glühwein; what we term mulled wine.
And then, there’s the stick-to-the-ribs meal called stamppot... but then, that is a dish to be eaten year ‘round.
Naturally, a craving for epicurean delights is not the only reason to learn Dutch.
The Dutch seem obsessed with linguistic brevity. In fact, they converse in much the same manner as we text!
Be honest: have you ever told someone (not in a text message) “IDK who that guy is”? Or, while out with mates: “BRB, I want to...”
The hyper-efficient Dutch have no problem peppering their speech with such shortcuts, so much so that beginner Dutch learners may find themselves completely bewildered, should they eavesdrop on native speakers’ conversation.
The curious-sounding aub represents a surgically precise way of saying please rather than signalling difficulties swallowing.
Zgn, ipv, mua... quirky vocabulary you won’t learn in any language course, so it would be best to learn how to speak Dutch so you can discover and use these expressions yourself!
Other great reasons to learn Dutch include:
An easy second language for English speakers to grasp (you already know some Dutch words!)
You will understand English better, if only because you are training your brain to distinguish between languages
The psychological and cognitive benefits of speaking more than one language are well established
Enjoy Dutch movies – a highly underrated industry that provides a fantastic opportunity to listen to conversational Dutch
Travel: not just to Holland but to Suriname, Aruba or Curaçao, and be understood once you get there!
Cycling: if you love to bike around everywhere, you will feel right at home in Holland!
Some of their most endearing idioms centre around the bicycle.
Now that you burn and yearn to learn, let us provide you with language training materials!
Resources to Learn and Review Dutch
Quite unfortunately, the language of the Netherlands is not among the list of languages that are considered vital to our country’s future economic growth.
That means that there are fewer institutions that offer Dutch language lessons; indeed, Dutch as an elective has been withdrawn from our schools.
Nevertheless, as a support network for determined language learners such as you, we know you will strive to master Dutch grammar with or without public education... and we will help you do so!
Not just by making our more than 100 Dutch tutors available to you but by presenting resources to make your learning experience all-inclusive.
First, you will need a Dutch dictionary.
The best of the best in that category would arguably be Van Dale publications, specifically the one targeted to those who intend their language learning to culminate in a certification exam.
It is titled Dutch as a Second Language NT2 (in Dutch, of course!) and includes sample sentences, verb conjugations and the proper use of articles de or het for every noun.
While you are browsing Amazon for your dictionary, you should also order a copy of Concise Dutch Grammar, preferably the edition that includes poetry and essays, if only to get a closer look at Dutch culture.
How better to do that than by sampling literary works?
And then, you will need access to spoken Dutch, along with some form of instruction.
In both cases, DutchPod101 fits the bill.
Suitable for beginners or intermediate level students of Dutch and handy even for those more advanced, this series of language instruction videos are hosted by lively teachers in their native language.
After creating your free profile on their page, you may join the community chat platform; a place where you and other Dutch students from around the world may discuss anything from the lessons at hand to challenges of language learning in general.
You may consider participation in that forum a form of peer tutoring, as students help each other understand difficult to grasp grammar – de and het, anyone? You may also help improve fellow learners’ pronunciation!
And, don’t forget: Superprof tutors are standing by, ready to help you excel in your language courses!
Dutch at GCSE Level
If you have been learning Dutch at breakneck speed with the intention of demonstrating your grasp of Dutch words and phrases at your school leaving exam, you may take heart in this nugget of news:
Although students may no longer select Dutch for their GCSE, they may opt to sit the IGCSE offered by Cambridge International.
This exam yields an advantage traditional GCSEs don’t: its results are accepted worldwide!
However, that bonus comes at a price: this ordeal is a bit more rigorous than the standard test of language ability formerly administered through the public school system.
Fortunately, you may refer to that organisation’s website for review materials including past papers and marking schemes as well as other study resources they recommend.
They also provide instructions on how to register for your exam.
At this point, you might wonder: what is the purpose of sitting Dutch GCSEs if the A-Level has been withdrawn and there are no Dutch undergraduate programmes available in the UK?
How to Certify Your Dutch Language Skills
We sympathise with you: after so long and so much effort and hard work put into learning a new language, it seems unfair that there are no avenues to prove you can speak this foreign language in our country.
But you are certainly welcome to prove your proficiency in Dutch through the Netherlands’ language certification process!
In fact, there are three exams you may choose from; the one probably most suited to your purposes would be the CNaVT.
Divided into four bands, each exam is tailored made for any learner’s specific purpose: the tourist, those desiring to relocate, those who want to work in the Netherlands and those who want to study at a Dutch university.
There is a fifth band as well: those who are at near-native speaker or bilingual level... is that you?
This proof of your language ability most closely matches the structure of other CEFRL exams: you would be tested purely on your reading and writing ability in Dutch, as well as listening and speaking.
If your plan, from the outset, is to relocate, you might consider focusing on the controversial ‘assimilation’ exam which requires candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of Dutch law and societal convention.
This exam requires you to sit a pretest in the UK prior to migrating to the Netherlands for the actual qualifying exam.
In fact, if you plan on living in the Netherlands, you will be required to pass this test but, if you’ve successfully demonstrated your ability to speak Dutch through the CNaVT, you may waive the assimilation exam’s pretest.
In spite of Dutch not being a strong contender as a world language, it is a tongue well worth learning: for its unconventional turns of phrase to its absolutely conventional cuisine, this culture and its language deserves to be celebrated.
We’re so glad you’re with us on that point!