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Learning Dutch with podcasts

Since the start of this year I have been passively learning some Dutch using these two podcasts:

Both of them are very good in my opinion. the first one is really good for beginners as the creator aims to pronounce everything clearly and to use simple language only, or, as she always says:

"Ik probeer redelijk simpele woorden te gebruiken en duidelijk te spreken."

This podcast always provides you with the text in written form as well as an "opdrachtje", a small task to practise your Dutch.

Dutch Today Podcast on the other hand is a more advanced podcast discussing a different topic in each episode. Among them are: why we drive on the right, motherhood, astrology, van Gogh, etc.

In about ten minutes, both podcasts shower you with diverse contents brought to you in relatively easy Dutch.

When is Dutch easy to learn?

When you already speak German, Dutch may seem to you like its adorable drunk cousin stuck in the middleages.

As a native speaker of a Swiss dialect of German, I sometimes feel that way. Perhaps it is the same the other way around;)

Knowing English or another Germanic language is definitely helpful, too. But since Dutch also has many French (romance) loans, you might recognise certain words in dutch.

Written Dutch

The Dutch orthography, at first, didn't make much sense to me. Rather like in English, the vowels written do not really correspond with the vowels you pronounce. Here is an example:

The diphtong <ui> as in:


is pronounced d[au]delijk

So, next to listening to these podcasts and intensly focussing on pronunciation and trying to figure out what kinds of differences there were to standard German, I also started to look at the orthography to understand how Dutch was written and what letters (or combinations thereof) corresponded to what sounds.

My method for this is simply to take a text to which you have a spoken version and to read along and try to identify the orthography-phonology correspondences, in other words try to connect the written with the spoken words. This will not only lead you to more insights about how Dutch is written, but also sharpen your eyes for the spelling of Dutch words in general. This has helped me a great deal in memorising new words.

Learn how babies learn!

Of course, when you first learn a language, you hear it for a few years before you actually start to speak it. Now, as adults, we don't need to hear a language for years before we start speaking it, but the principle of first hearing, then speaking holds true in my opinion.

Have you ever felt like you were hearing the words you were about to say like an echo in the back of your head before you actually pronounced them?

For me, this is often the case. It feels like I was hearing someone say the exact sentence to me and I was simply repeating it aloud.

Anyway. If you have never experienced this, that's okay. Neither you nor I are lunatics for (not) having experienced that;)

At any rate, I recommend listening to your target language a lot, even listening to the same thing over and over again. In passively receiving such input, I believe, your mind will adapt to the language more and more and you will be able to become more competent over time with little active effort. By listening to one audio repeatedly, you can allow your brain to receive an ever more detailed imprint and identify patterns that it could not catch before. Needless to say, repetition is the mother of learing (Russian proverb). Hence, by listening repeatedly, you will memorise what is said more effectively, you might even start to grasp the natural intonation patterns and other subtle details that are unattainable when you only briefly interact with an audio track.

Questions for you

What experiences have you had with Dutch?

Can you recommend other learning materials?

What methods have you used and which is your favourite?

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