9 excuses not to learn Dutch – Debunked

As an online teacher and founder of the Dutch Summer School I meet a lot of people who want to study Dutch, or are thinking about studying the language. Learning Dutch, which is for most of you a totally new language, can be quite a big step.

You look at this giant monster with all the grammar, words, weird sounds, etc. It is easy to come up with some excuses.

I have collected some of them. In this blog I want to give you my answer to these excuses and why they don’t have to stand in the way of learning a new language.

  1. ‘It’s not necessary to learn Dutch’

Although Dutch people are proud to say they speak good English, and yes you probably can manage to survive, still, Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands and the mother tongue of Dutch people.

Not only is it important for dealing with official institutions in the Netherlands or learning about the Dutch culture, you will also need it in everyday conversation.

And don’t forget, there is a whole country outside Amsterdam. It’s not likely that in smaller towns you will get away with English.

  1. ‘I’m too old to learn’

I can assure you: you learned a language when you were 5, and there is nothing that prevents you from learning a new language when you are 63.

For example, when you are older you know how to study. You have discovered what the best way is for you to study and can apply this to learning Dutch. Also you have a lot of relevant knowledge. You have mastered your mother tongue and learned grammar and vocabulary. There is a good chance you can use this when learning Dutch.

  1. ‘Dutch is too hard’

Your first impression might be that Dutch is a difficult language. Hearing sounds you never knew existed. Not able to distinguish any word or structure.

But wait! Dutch is from the same family as English and German. This means there are quite a few similarities. But you have to know them to hear it.

Also, Dutch language is open to new influences. Nowadays that’s mainly English. So every day new English words enter everyday Dutch vocabulary.

  1. ‘Learning a language is boring’

The students I met weren’t always very enthusiastic about the languages they learned at school. But remember you’re probably not at school anymore. And there are lots of different ways to learn a language.

With my online course I like to combine the grammar and vocabulary with fun.                      

  1. ‘I don’t live in the Netherlands’

For a lot of you, it’s difficult to learn Dutch, because there are no Dutch speaking people around you. Although it is quite possible because there are about 26 million people speaking Dutch, worldwide. But if not, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for you.

There is a way to start learning Dutch. Eventually you will need to practise it. But in the meantime you can start with the basic grammar or the 1000 most common words.

  1. ‘It’s expensive to learn Dutch’

Not everywhere! The idea of my website is that sharing content is the key to success.

  1. ‘It takes too long and I don’t have the time’

This is something I hear frequently. There is so much to learn and I don’t know where to start.

What I can say, is that you can start almost right away.

With the basic grammar and vocabulary many Dutch people would be glad to have a conversation with somebody who is learning their language. Most Dutch consider this as a compliment.

And don’t forget, your Dutch doesn’t have to be perfect.

  1. ‘I’m not social enough’

You don’t have to be this super outgoing extravert person. Learning a new language doesn’t mean you have to change your personality. You can stay the way you are.

Yes, communication with other people is really important in learning Dutch. But you can practise with anybody you like. Even if you just meet one person, that is okay.

Going to the summer school is always a good idea to help with this.

  1. ‘I don’t have talent for learning a language’

Last but not least. Some people use their ‘lack of talent’ as an excuse for not learning Dutch. And yes, there are some people for whom learning a language comes a bit more easily. But in general, everybody has the ability to learn a new language.

There are a lot of elements that influence the progress of learning; ‘talent’ is just one of them.

Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School