You’ve decided to start learning Dutch. Good job! The first step of learning a language is getting started. In this article, we list tips to help you learn Dutch. 

1. Set goals


Think carefully about what you want to achieve. This helps to keep you motivated. Do you want to understand the basics? Or do you want to be fluent in Dutch? Try to set intermediate goals as well. For instance, your first goal could be to ask for directions in an unfamiliar neighbourhood in your city, while your ultimate goal is to have entire conversations. By setting intermediate goals, you stay enthusiastic. This will prevent the goal you want to achieve from seeming unattainable. 

2. Use the help you are entitled to


When you arrive in the Netherlands as a newcomer, there are several ways to learn Dutch for free. 

  • You can follow the course ‘Basaal (simple) Nederlands’ for free. As a newcomer, you will learn the basics of Dutch to help you cope with everyday situations. You are entitled to this when:
    • You are a newcomer waiting for a decision on the application for a residence permit.
    • You are a newcomer with a residence permit in reception. 
  • You can follow the Preparation for Integration programme free of charge when you are a newcomer in a reception location. This consists of 115 hours of language lessons (NT2), and an introduction to the Dutch labour market and society. 

Are you a newcomer to the Netherlands and do you receive a residence permit? Then you have to take an integration exam within 3 years. A good motivation to learn the language. In this integration exam, you will read, listen, speak and write in Dutch. You will also be asked questions about Dutch society and the labour market in this exam. 

3. Practice every day


When you practice a language every day, you remember things faster. Learning a language is actually like training a muscle. The more often you practise, the better you become.

When practising every day, try to keep a time that is achievable. This could be an hour a day or 15-30 minutes. Apps such as Duolingo, Taaly and Babbel help you practise Dutch daily. For example, set a reminder, which keeps you practising. You will see that this definitely helps you progress. You can also use YouTube for daily practice. For example, the following YouTube channels can help you:

4. Speak the language with others


When you learn a language, you also want to practise pronunciation. You learn this by speaking the language. There are different ways to do this. You can find a language buddy to practise Dutch with via apps such as Taaly, Tandem and Speaky. In the Welcome app, you will also find various activities (both offline and online) that help you learn Dutch in a fun way. The app contains activities focused on meeting people (such as at an (online) language café of Vertel es), culture, creativity, family, sports, education, language and work. 

5. Watch Dutch television


Hearing a language helps enormously in learning it. And by watching television, you also get to experience Dutch culture! Below you will find programmes that are perfect for practising. Watch the programmes with subtitles to make it easier to follow. Subtitles also help you learn how to write Dutch. 

6. Read Dutch books

Books are the perfect way to practise writing in Dutch. Just started learning Dutch? Then read children’s books such as ‘Minoes’ or ‘Jip and Janneke’ by Annie M.G. Schmidt. When you are already a level ahead, start on books for teenagers. Like the ‘Hoe overleef ik’ books by Francine Oomen. 

Want to read more books? Then you can always ask at a library what books are good for your level. Or ask your language buddy or a Dutch teacher if they have any tips.  

7. Listen to Dutch music


Dutch music is another fun way to learn the language and culture. You can listen for free to Dutch radio stations on the website On 100%NL, you will find a lot of Dutch music. You can also look up the Top 40 of the Netherlands on YouTube or Spotify. There, you will find 40 songs that are currently popular in the Netherlands. You will find both foreign-language and Dutch songs there. 

8. Put a label on things


Repeating words often helps you learn them better. And secretly, you see quite a few words come along every day. For instance, you open the fridge and the wardrobe, watch television, use a toothbrush and eat fruit. Sticking notes on all these things will help you learn their meaning faster. And that way, you will immediately brighten up your living space!

9. Don’t be too hard on yourself


Learning a language has ups and downs. It is quite normal to make mistakes, and sometimes get irritated when something does not work out. Remind yourself that every step you take, however small, makes you better at Dutch. Fail one day? Then tomorrow is another day. 

Learning Dutch takes time, patience and practice. These tips will help you get better and better at Dutch, in a fun way. Good luck. You can do it!