Missed out on a language course?
How to learn Dutch on a dime
Learning Dutch can be a huge help when it comes to integrating in Groningen, coping with loneliness, and accessing social and leisure options in the city. It also looks great on your CV. But chances are good that you were one of the many unlucky students who didn’t manage to get a spot in one of the thirteen Dutch language courses that opened up last week at the RUG Language Centre. They filled up in one afternoon.
Now your vocabulary will never get past lekker and dank je wel, right? Wrong. There are a number of effective, cheap ways you can start learning Dutch on your own.
Phone apps are probably the most accessible tools we have for learning languages. You can easily do a quick vocabulary lesson on your commute, lunch break, or between classes. The most popular choices for these apps are:
If you’re on YouTube right now, tear yourself away from the cute cat videos and use the platform to ramp up your understanding of Dutch grammar and syntax instead.
Not a lot of people realise that the Language Center has a YouTube channel with free lesson playlists for levels 0-A2 and A2-B1. There are other good channel options that also offer online classes for specific topics you are struggling with (de and het, I see you), as well as informative comedic sketches and reaction videos.
- Language Centre University of Groningen
- Learn Dutch with Niels!
- Learn Dutch with DutchPod101
The best way to cement what you’re learning on your own is by actually speaking Dutch. There are a couple of weekly events in town that give you the opportunity to practice with other like-minded folks who won’t laugh at you.
- Cafe de las Lenguas Groningen, every Thursday at 7 PM in the Harmonie cafeteria
- Lekker Kletsen, every two weeks on Friday at 4 PM at City Center
Music and Podcasts
Music is a great way to pick up popular slang and local expressions. Tune in to Dutch playlists on Spotify, like ‘Netherlands Top 50’, to rock out to Groningen rapper Kraantje Pappie or listen to Hij is van mij for the 9573237th time.
If you’re a little more advanced, listen to Dutch podcasts and the news on your bike ride or during your jogging sessions.
Pick a book you know by heart (Harry Potter? Twilight? Fifty Shades of Grey? No judgement) and read it again – in Dutch. You already know how it goes, which will give you important context clues as you work through the language. If you read it on a Kindle, you can set your dictionary to ‘Dutch’ and look up words you don’t know as you go along.
Turn on Dutch subtitles for your favourite Netflix series and change the language of your phone to Dutch. Constant exposure to the language is key.
The biggest obstacle for Dutch learners is Dutch speakers. They will immediately switch to English when they hear you struggle. The solution is simply to lie: Ik spreek geen Engels! Now they have to speak to you in Dutch. Voila!