What NOT to do when you want to study Dutch – Typical mistakes when learning Dutch

In the last couple of years I have met a lot of people who were studying Dutch. And learning Dutch is not always the easiest thing to do.

As an online teacher I’m always interested in the way students learn. This helps me to determine what you should do and also what NOT to do when you want to study a language.

In this blog I present my 7 typical mistakes made when learning Dutch.

  1. Underestimate learning Dutch – Think you can learn Dutch in a week

I met one student who thought that he could book two weeks at the summer school and after that, he would be able to work in Dutch in the Netherlands. And he started at A1-level!

I believe in the method of my school and have great faith in my teachers. But that is impossible. For any human.

  1. Overestimate learning Dutch – You are never too old

Learning a new language, Dutch in this case, can be quite daunting. There is this whole set of grammar rules, new words, sounds, etc. But don’t think it’s impossible! Even at an old age.

  1. You can learn it from a book

Of course, there is grammar and there are words. But for you, using  the language is what it is all about. And speaking is of course one of the most important ways of communicating.

And to learn how to speak, you’ve got to just do it. So yes, books can help you. And in some ways are necessary. But you need to practise, give it a try and make a lot of mistakes to grow.

  1. I can speak German so I can speak Dutch

If you are unfamiliar with Dutch or German, you might think people are speaking the same language. Well, they’re not.

Yes, there are a lot of similarities. And people from the Netherlands are able to understand some German. But still, the differences are pretty big!

  1. Avoid speaking Dutch

If you are learning Dutch, and you are starting from scratch, it is really tempting to switch to English.

This isn’t a problem, especially in the big cities because most people will understand you.

BUT! This doesn’t help you improve your Dutch. Learning a new language is not easy, but persevering through this difficult phase pays off in the end!

  1. After a course, fall back into speaking your mother tongue

What I’ve seen happening is that people during the summer school are really motivated. They have two or even more weeks when they speak a lot of Dutch, study a lot of grammar and hang out with like-minded people.

They come home, put their Lesboek in the cupboard, and go on with their normal UNDUTCH life.

You can compare learning a new language with working out or traning for a sport or practising a musical instrument. It takes time and effort, and equally important, you have to maintain it!

  1. It’s no fun

Some students write everything down and study the grammar rule by rule. I don’t say that is a bad thing. But sometimes you’ve got to let go and just have fun with it.

Just practise and try to speak Dutch.

Having fun with the language is one of the most important aspects of the way you learn at the Dutch summer school

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