Dutch: Easy to learn?

Discussion in 'Nederlands (Dutch)' started by lotjed_13, Mar 12, 2006.

  1. lotjed_13 Member

    What do you think about Dutch?
    I just want to know what YOU think about it.
    Is it a hard language to learn?
    Or either easy?

  2. T.D-K Senior Member

    Cymraeg Cymru
    Even though my own language is gutteral, I find Dutch and its sister Flemish very difficult to get my head around. I just don't know what the key to breaking up, spoken sentances is. I had no problem acquiring an ear for Nordic languages so am suprised that I cannot learn dutch.
  3. lotjed_13 Member

    Thanks for your answer!
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2009
  4. Xaphirezst Member

    Dutch are like German.
    You can master Dutch easily if you have German as the basic.
  5. I also find it very hard to learn Dutch, although I easily learned basic (if not highly correct) German. It seems strange, because I have often heard it is the closest language to English. Maybe it's something about the spelling that makes it daunting.

    I've also noted that most Dutch people in urban areas have a deplorably good level of English - a native-like command of the language that is almost scary. Maybe that's also because the two are so close.

    A final word, and it's not to discourage you, but in my experience, when you try to speak Dutch to a Dutch person, even if they understand you, they will just answer in English... Probably because it requires a lot less effort than patiently waiting for you to find your words, trying to understand you, and then going through the process of trying to help you to understand their response. They just tend to go around all that by speaking to you in English.

    But by all means, go for it, if you have a good reason to and it inspires you!!!
  6. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I don't really know much about Dutch, but it seems like an interesting language: close to German, but simpler. Kind of similar to English (at least superficially; I hear it's a misconception that it's the closest language to English).
    Love the spelling, with all those double vowels and the ij. :)
  7. jester.

    jester. Senior Member

    Aachen, Germany
    Germany -> German
    As far as I know this is due to the excellent Dutch education system.
  8. Also, my Dutch friends have mentioned that nothing is ever "dubbed" on Dutch TV, they show eveything in its original version, from Bugs Bunny to Jerry Springer :D ! So they develop their ear for languages very early.

    Still, if you have a good reason to learn Dutch and are motivated, it's certainly a worthwhile pursuit.
  9. Brazilian dude Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil
    I think Dutch was a fantastic language to learn. Indeed it's very similar to German, but simpler in many aspects: no declensions, just two articles instead of three, and a much freer word order. On the other hand, Dutch must be a little bit more difficult to pronounce because of all the ch's and g's and a few consonant clusters (I think fewer than German, though).

    Brazilian dude
  10. optimistique Senior Member

    Where did you hear that??? We have an excellent education system??? That's new to me:rolleyes: You're not referring to the German parents who put their children on Dutch schools in for example Kerkrade from Herzogenrath, are you? A friend of mine was on a school in Kerkrade and said there were a lot of Germans as well, but she said it was only because of the extra language they would learn (Dutch at school, German at home).

    I guess that it does help that (indeed, badgrammar! ;)) we use subtitles instead of the "dubbing". That's something I feel very lucky to have. Personally, however, I found that people in Norway spoke English much better than we do.

    Also, a word to ENcourage you: you might know that our crown-princess Máxima is Argentinian, and she learnt to speak reasonable Dutch in what seemed only weeks! And someone at my university speaks Dutch so well that it's almost impossible to believe she only started learning it two years ago. Apart from her accent, she speaks really native-like!

    It seems to be true that most Dutch respond back to strangers in English. Personally, I would never do that to someone who talks to me in Dutch, because I understand how frustrating that must be. But where I live there only come Germans anyway and I always talk to them in Dutch while they speak German, and that works fine.
  11. jester.

    jester. Senior Member

    Aachen, Germany
    Germany -> German
    It is usually said here that education is better in your country than in ours, and I am not referring to any particular parents form Herzogenrath... ;)

    With regard to the person at your university: If he (or she) is German, I wouldn't be too surprised to hear that a German can attain an almost native-like level of Dutch within two years. Our languages are similar in so many ways.
    All the times I have been to your contry so far, I have been able to get by without actually knowing one word of Dutch, but I also know that many Dutchmen speak German.
  12. optimistique Senior Member

    No, that person was American. That´s why it was worth mentioning. I know many German people that speak Dutch perfectly, in fact, I don´t know any Germans who actually learn it that have much trouble with it, for reasons you already explained. Our languages are sometimes ridiculously similar, but that is sometimes a (luxury) problem too: I'm very often not sure whether I'm actually speaking German or just germanised Dutch;)
  13. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    You're definitely right about that. :) It's an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time. Having studied French before Spanish, I definitely had a tendency in the beginning to write Spanish as if it were French! And I have the opposite problem as you: I tend to write Dutch as if it were German!

    Your German is great, by the way, but I have noticed a few instances in which your syntax was Dutch - like putting a modal before an infinitive at the end of a Nebensatz or splitting a da-preposition composite (which, by the way, is common in colloquial German)! :D

    I find these things fascinating.
  14. Also, a word to ENcourage you: you might know that our crown-princess Máxima is Argentinian,

    Oh my! It has been a while since I've gotten up there! Queen Beatrix is no longer queen, then?
  15. Rayines

    Rayines Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    I hadn't read this thread before. Just my interest: I tried to learn Dutch three years ago. The main difficulties I found were its vocabulary, because although it has a lot of words similar to English, there're a lot of them quite different from Spanish, and the grammar structure: all that words order stuff (I think it's similar in German). Actually I've given it up, because I could never practice it.
    Royal reasons!! :eek:
  16. Robinvn

    Robinvn Senior Member

    In Dublin fair city
    Dutch, Belgium
    I know quite some people who are learning Dutch, and they all have the same problems, mainly the word order. It's similar, but still pretty different from German, eg. we place the auxiliary verb on another place.

    Whenever you might feel like giving Dutch a new go, we're here to help you!!
  17. optimistique Senior Member

    Thank you for the complement:D. And yes, I recognize that. To my ears for instance '*...dass ich will gehen' & '...dass ich gehen will' sound exactly the same, so I cannot always trust my instinct, unfortunately.:eek:

    Oh, and badgrammar, Beatrix is still queen! Today is Queen's Day so she has been on television all day!
  18. lotjed_13 Member

    jajaja wij (Vlaanderen!!!) hebben een goed schoolsysteem
    van Nederland weet ik dat niet zo goed
    toch bedankt voor je antwoord!
  19. lady_skywalker New Member

    Gibraltar : English and Spanish
    Dutch is definately not the toughest language in the world to learn but it still can be fairly hard for people to learn, especially if they don't have the slighest bit of interest in the Germanic languages (such as myself!).

    Things I find tricky are :

    + Remembering whether a word is a 'de' or 'het' word (not as easy to determine as with, say, French or Spanish)

    + Pronouncing the 'sch', 'g' and 'ui' sounds. Especially hate being asked to pronounce 'Scheveningen' by my partner's relatives at 'circle parties'. After all, I don't nitpick *their* pronunciations of English words. :p

    + The word order can sometimes confuse me, especially as I keep using English word order when I don't know how to put a sentence together in Dutch. Things like 'Sorry dat ik zo laat ben' throw me off occasionally.

    + Dutch grammar, in general, can be tricky for anyone who hasn't already studied German. There seem to be many exceptions to the rules and remembering the various forms of verbs can sometimes be a headache.

    + The fact that too many Dutch people revert to English rather than put up with your efforts to speak their language in their country. While I appreciate that switching back to English might help get information across quicker (especially in shops where there are queues to consider), I really appreciate it more when people have a bit of patience and recognise that I'm making an effort with a language I don't particularly like. After all, I could always become one of those expats who don't bother to learn a word of the local language, right? ;)

    + People who bring up Princess Maxima as proof that anyone can learn Dutch in the space of a couple of months. This happens to me a bit and it bugs me. First of all, everyone learns at a different pace so her successes are not necessarily indicative of everyone who's learning Dutch. Second of all, many of us Dutch learners have jobs and other concerns and thus do not have as much time to dedicate to language learning as members of the royalty probably have (please correct me if I'm wrong). And lastly, Maxima probably had the best Dutch teachers the Royal Family could afford, something that is out of the question for the rest of us lowly learners. :p
  20. optimistique Senior Member

    I'm sorry then:eek:
  21. diamania Member

    Dutch, Netherlands
    I am Dutch myself and sometimes I have to think if I am using the grammatical rules in the right way.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2009
  22. ForzaItalia Member

    English England

    One of the problems is with Dutch is that there are quite a few regional dialacts. Also, most Dutch people speak excellent English and will want to demonstrate how good their English is to you!

    Regards ForzaItalia!
  23. StefKE

    StefKE Senior Member

    French - Belgium
    I've been learning Dutch for ten years and I'm nowhere yet. I've learnt English for 3 years and I can read books and speak with people.

    The big difficulty with Dutch is the order of the words. When you speak, you always have to think if there is an inversion, where the verb must be placed, where the complements must be and so on. When you listen to Dutch, you always have to wait for the end of the sentence to know the action. The problem most french speaking people have with Dutch is vocabulary too. It is very different from French so difficult to remember.
    The difficulties French speakers encounter when learning Dutch is sometimes discouraging and I think that's why most French speakers don't like it.
  24. Sterre New Member

    The Netherlands - Dutch

    Really? I don't agree with that fact..... ever heard them speak / their accent? Its horrible most of the times (including mine)!
  25. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    That's been discussed here.

    I must say I like it very much when a Dutchman speaks English with a strong Dutch accent, it sounds very sweet to me. It might be not true for every Dutchmen, though.

    Back to topic, I could easily pick up some vocabulary, useful phrases and grammatical structures from my Dutch relatives while I was in the Netherlands, well that's mainly because I've always been interested in Germanic languages. But do I think Dutch is easy to learn? Well, please let me answer this question later, because I'm just a beginner for now and I think I'll have a better chance to compare these three Germanic languages(English, German, Dutch) at the end of this year, since I'm going to go into German grammar at school, which I don't know about much more than Dutch. :)
  26. DrLindenbrock Senior Member

    Italy; Italian & Am. English

    Personally I do think Dutch is quite difficult. However, I must admit I don't speak any Germanic language apart from English (which has lost most of its Germanic features anyway).
    Basic vocabulary and basic grammar don't seem too bad but my biggest problem is with long compound words. Ok, if I knew German I wouldn't have so many problems.
    However, correct me if I am wrong, it seems to me that in German long words do sound long when pronounced, while in Dutch long words seem very short when pronounced by native speakers. I don't know how to explain this better, sorry....
    As for grammar on the whole, sorry, I haven't dedicated enough time to Dutch to be able to give my opinion.....

    Oh, and I agree that Dutch people tend to have a "deplorably" good level in foreign languages.....ok, maybe they have a strange accent when they speak Italian (but even native English speakers are easily identifiable.... :)) and probably Spanish and other Romance languages, but I think their English or French is, generally speaking, very good.

  27. lotjed_13 Member

    Thank you very much for all your answers!
    Hartelijk bedankt voor al jullie antwoorden!!
  28. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    I feel that Dutch isn't a terribly difficult language to learn. I have spent a couple hours with the language through books, and one of my best friends is Dutch. It is very similar to English, which is a plus!
  29. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I had 'O' Level German (and not a very good grade at that :() and found it gave me a head start in Dutch when I went to live in the Netherlands. I was able to get the gist of a Dutch newspaper within a few months. Not long after that I was able to ask for and understand directions. I would say that learning Dutch with a knowledge of German was a bit easier than learning Spanish with a knowledge of French. Some speakers of Western languages manage to learn Chinese, so it must surely be possible to learn Dutch!
  30. Blite New Member

    The Netherlands
    Dutch is fairly easy to learn if you have German as a basis. English is possible also, because a lot of grammar is similar.
  31. alisonp Senior Member

    English - UK
    Quite agree that Dutch is relatively easy once you have German, except that the word order is different, which can be confusing. You can spot a lot of similarities between the two, and quite frequently "Dutchify" a German word to come up with the Dutch equivalent. However, it is quite difficult to pronounce (as an English-speaker). I'm told that Scots have more luck with pronunciation than English people.
  32. stargazer

    stargazer Senior Member

    Slovenia, Slovenian

    A couple of years ago I had a pleasant opportunity to learn Dutch as part of my studies and was quite thrilled about it because I love it. Prior to that, I had learned English, Italian, and German. If my German had been any better (if I had studied it harder), it would probably be easier to deal with word order and irregular verbs in Dutch as those were the biggest problems for me. Oh, and pronouncing /g/ definitely required some effort! But apart from that I really enjoyed learning it. I just love the way Dutch sounds - it's so juicy - and how the Dutch use a lot of diminutives.

    Groetjes! ;)
  33. tantevangrouwel New Member

    Dutch. Belgium
    About people who swith to English if you try to speak Dutch....
    I know we tend to do that... and I think we should not. May be we want to show of our knowledge of foreign languages.
    But I think people over here really apreciate any effort to talk our language.
    About the fact that a lot of us talk more languages...
    I think that we in Belgium are forced to learn other languages. First of all, we have three official languages (Dutch, French, German) and second, the dutch language teriorium is very small.
    Third reason is surely the original spoken tv material and movies. Nothing is dubbed. Only subtitled. I remember how my grandparents had no knowledge of English at all. (but they spoke French better as our generation...)
    I personaly never miss a Spanish movie on tv, that is a big help to exercise my Spanish.
    about the difference between Dutch and English or German
    I think there is a big difference between those three languages, to my opinion the difference is comparable with the difference between Italian and Spanish. Portuguese is closer to Spanisch as Dutch is to English or Italian. (only a personal vieuw)
    about your atempt to learn our language
    I think you ar very brave, but if our french spoken minister of justice and our Italian queen can do it, why wouldn't you???
    If you want some exercise, I will buy you a nice Belgian beer in Brussels!
  34. Tantrum New Member

    Polish Poland
    Frisian is the closest language to English.

    I speak good English and passable German although I can easily read books in German. Recently, I've started working with Dutch people and they sometimes write something in Dutch and forget that I don't speak Dutch. However, I can understand some sentences without any problem because the written language is really similar to German and to (to a lesser degree) English. If you know how to pronounce some letters and diphthongs, it is even easier, e.g. "ui" - then "huis" (house) and "uit" (out) is piece of cake.

    But the spoken language is very difficult.

    You can understand that sentence if you know German.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2009
  35. Rayines

    Rayines Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Thank you very much, Robin! :)
  36. honey bunny New Member

    Can anybody tell me what the best way is to learn Dutch for an English speaker.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2009
  37. alisonp Senior Member

    English - UK
    Ah, no wonder - at least where English is concerned. It rather forces you to learn it or else, doesn't it? Especially since I imagine you have a lot more British/US TV imports than we do Dutch ones :D

    Do you know why they don't dub them? Is it cultural, financial, or what? (Perhaps they don't think there's enough of a market) When I lived in France, there was hardly anything in the way of English-language programmes that weren't dubbed - I think I can remember about 1 film that was subtitled, and that was in over 6 months! Anyway, I've got at least one TV series on DVD with Dutch subtitles, and it's a very useful way of getting to grips with the language!
  38. tantevangrouwel New Member

    Dutch. Belgium
  39. alisonp Senior Member

    English - UK
    Er, did you mean to post something there?!
  40. tantevangrouwel New Member

    Dutch. Belgium
    It originaly was a financial matter. It does concern a rather small area doesn't it?
    But I think people are so used to subtitles by now, they dont feel much need fot it to change.
    Since a few years Big Disney productions are synchronised in Dutch. People with small children (who cant read yet) do visit the synchronised film, but others mostly prefer the original movie because we like to hear the original sound track. Over here, movie theaters offer both versions. Aint we lucky?
  41. tantevangrouwel New Member

    Dutch. Belgium
    sorry alisonp, I did mess up a little...:(
  42. alisonp Senior Member

    English - UK
    In the UK, most of our non-English films are subtitled, but that's largely because they're regarded as "arthouse" films with only a small potential audience, I think. I seem to remember that several of the animated films, 'Spirited Away' included, were also provided with a dubbed version, though (and the verb is 'dub' rather than 'synchronise' :) ). Whether that too was because they thought children would be present, or merely because it was expected to have a wide audience, I don't know.
  43. Banbha

    Banbha Senior Member

    Cork, Ireland
    Irish & English

    I speak fluent English and am learning Geman for 8 years and I have to say Dutch is the easiest language ever!! Sometimes I don't know is it closer to English or German but if you have both languages you are sorted and you should pick it up. That said I lived in Holland for 5 years (Age 1-6) so I was fluent in Dutch. I'm now 21, have lost all my Dutch through lack of usage :( and want to learn it again so just started. But it defintely helped my learning of German and now my German is helping my learning of Dutch...... weird:D. The pronounciation is cool, I love th 'ij' thing aswell or some reason. Word order seems to follow German as opposed to English rules. It's also a lot easier than German as it doesn't have all those complicated cases I don't think. The Dutch in my opinion tend to have the best level of English as a nation followed by the Germans and the Swedes. This does make it hard to speak Dutch as they will switch to English so my plan is when I go back to Holland to pretend I can't speak English ..... or German for that matter and they will have no choice but to speak Dutch back as I'm sure they can't speak Irish and if they did I would be so impressed!! ;)XD
    Very interesting thread :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 26, 2008
  44. Lieven New Member

    > Word order seems to follow German as opposed to English rules.

    Bit off topic, but kinda interesting is that the English word order was like the Dutch and German one until only a couple of centuries ago.

    Old Modern English: Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offende
    Present day Enlgish: Hamlet, you have offended your father much.
    Dutch: Hamlet, je hebt je vader erg kwaad gemaakt
  45. vermillionxtears Senior Member

    USA; Vereinigte Staaten; États-Unis
    American English (general American dialect)
    Ik vind dat Nederlands makkelijk is. :)
    However, I must say that I really miss the constant commas from German. They separated all of the dependent clauses and made word order easier to construct. Without those commas, Dutch word order is rough, though knowledge of German grammar makes it much easier.

    Now, I do think that Dutch is quite simple, but it's sort of intermediate between English and German anyways. That would make things monstrously easy for me. ^^'
    Alongside that, I must admit that one part of Dutch is excrutiatingly difficult: pronunciation. There are three things that particularly bother me about it:

    1. the frequent "g" sound
    Though it's unique and quite neat, it can get annoying (especially in words like vleigtuig).
    2. the pronunciation of "s"
    It's sometimes "s," sometimes a little like "sh." Overall, it's quite confusing for me.
    3. the Dutch accents themselves
    They're simply difficult to imitate. I listen to myself try to imitate them, yet I end up just sounding strange.
  46. trance0 Senior Member

    Through German and English I find myself understanding quite a bit of written Dutch and I can also pick up some words and simple sentences of spoken Dutch. I find this language interesting, because it has characteristics of both English and German and the pronunciaton is nice, although very difficult to imitate.
  47. acemach Member

    Malaysia - English & Mandarin
    POV of total beginner:

    Visibility is everything!

    I'm still struggling with the basics of the language, and definitely I think the French basics were easier, mostly because French commands a much larger sphere of attention. The number of French lessons, tutorials, videos and general media I've come across on the Internet far, far outstrips Dutch. This is a real blow, being in a country where neither language is spoken or taught.

    Never having learnt German, I think the word order throws me off hardest. That, compound words, and the lack of good Dutch-English dictionaries online.

    Still, I'm pretty sure it'll get much easier once I pass the beginner stage. =]

  48. PabloElFlamenco

    PabloElFlamenco New Member

    outside Brussels, Belgium
    Dutch - Flanders (Belgium)
    I'm a native Flemish-Dutch speaker, and as such I can't from first-hand experience give a credible reply to the question.

    However, I have come accross people from Denmark, the USA, many from Germany, who do speak Dutch very well.

    There appear to be far fewer from Latin countries, even though I was extremely impressed by (the originally Argentinian) Princess Maxima when I first heard her on TV and there are, of course, some French who speak Dutch, some of them well.

    I assume that, like everything in life, motivation is a key factor.

    I would like to make some further points, though. Due to my dad having been in the (Belgian) armed forces, our family kept moving, to Germany, to the USA, so I didn't learn any Dutch in school between the ages of 13 and 18. By the time I entered Belgian university, I spoke Dutch like a 13-year old from Brooklyn.

    Whilst nowadays I speak Dutch pretty much impeccably, my spelling and, worse, grammar, is ..er.. sketchy. I find the rules...incredibly fabricated, and others have already mentioned the rules of...exception.

    I stongly feel also that repeated and subsequent changes in the rules of grammar have not done anything to solidly "anchor" the language. And, as the French would say "traduit de l'américain", there are the real differences between Dutch from the north and Flemish-Dutch. To me it's all Dutch, much like the American language, Australian, South African, Indian English...all that...is English; period, full stop. Not that this is any different in, say, Spanish..Castilian, Asturian, Navarrese...Argentinian, Mexican...¡all Spanish to me!

    Oh yes, BTW, my two sons learned English from the Simpsons on TV. Subtitling is an enormous advantage, a school for free.

    Sorry for the spelling mistakes: I can't ever remember the rules of grammar, not in any language...

  49. MaxJ Senior Member

    Apeldoorn, The Netherlands
    Dutch- Netherlands
    Very old message but I still want to give a comment. I agree with your teacher statement, she had like the best and most expensive Dutch education but she still speaks with a very heavy accent(still after more than 7 years), she speaks the language in a very odd way and she still makes a lot grammar mistakes.

    @Topic: I don't think Dutch is very easy. I know a few people who learned Dutch(they spoke English, Danish or Afrikaans) but you can easily hear that they are foreign and they also make a lot mistakes.
  50. Chimel Senior Member

    In my experience: Dutch is relatively easy to learn, as compared to German, French (I suppose...) and perhaps even English, if you want to go further than basic English.

    The problem is, at least in Belgium, that most Dutch-speaking people speak some sort of Flemish dialect, which is quite different.

    I remember the first time I worked with Flemish colleagues: although I was able to read the newspaper in Dutch and even to understand most things on television, I just couldn't understand a single word from what they were saying to each other ! Then, when they talked to me, they made an effort to speak "ABN" (standard Dutch), but after a few minutes they fell back on Flemish and I was "off". Very frustrating... -))

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