Is Dutch difficult to learn?

Is the Dutch language spoken by 23 million people in The Netherlands, Belgium, Suriname, Curacao, Aruba and Sint Maarten difficult to learn? Read this article to find out! I mention why this language is easier to learn than you might think, and what things might be tricky!

Why Dutch is Easy

Dutch is actually (one of) the easiest language to learn for English speakers, according to a study by the U.S. army’s foreign language institute, able to learn within just 24 weeks of intensive courses (that’s only half a year)! More about this method in another blog post – keep an eye on it here :).

Dutch difficult canal

Now, why would it be relatively easy to learn for English speakers?

  • Dutch is a language that has plenty of loan words from French, German and English. Since English also has many words from French, you’ll actually be able to recognize several words in Dutch from day 1! Every day more and more English words are used in conversations or are used for new words in Dutch.
  • The pronunciation has plenty of similarities with American English (this is why many Dutch people have an accent similar to Americans). Don’t get scared by strange letter combinations like sch or ui, these are some sounds that you’ll be able to learn fast too.
  • It has the same Latin alphabet as English. Many consonants have the same pronunciation, and even some vowels.

What Makes Dutch Seem Difficult to Learn

Of course, Dutch is not English. Both have the same Germanic language root, but developed in different ways over the decades. What is different between the two languages now? And what makes Dutch tricky for new learners?

  • Dutch has quite a different word order than English. This is a big surprise for people when they just start learning Dutch. It is compeletely normal to say ”Tomorrow go I at 10 am to the doctor, because I very sick am.” -> ”Morgen ga ik om 10 uur naar de dokter, omdat ik heel ziek ben.
  • There are letter combinations that also scare newbies. For example, ui, eu, ei, ij, ou, sch.
  • Just like in English, letters can have multiple sounds. In the word Nederland /ney-duhr-lant/, the two e’s have different sounds.
  • Just like many other languages (including English), when we speak fast words can stick together. For example, ”hoe heet je?” sounds more like /hoeheetchuh/ and ”Wie bent u?” would be like /wie bentu/

So… Is it doable?

Absolutely! I’ve seen plenty of people achieving fluency in Dutch! It’s all about believing you can, immersing yourself with the language and speaking it (with yourself, a teacher or friends). Analyze conversations and try to use the words you hear and/or read. Need more help? Book a coaching session so we can build a study plan for YOU!

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