Dutch is not an easy language to learn. In fact, it is known for being one of the most challenging. Here are some common obstacles expats face trying to learn how to speak Dutch…
Learning any new language comes with challenges. If it didn’t, far more people would be multi-lingual. But what is it about the Dutch language in particular that makes it so difficult?
Here are some of the most common hurdles expats face according to Dutch language trainers…
1. Many letters of the alphabet are pronounced differently in Dutch than they are in English. For example, ‘A’ in English is pronounced ‘ay’ but in Dutch it is pronounced ‘ah’. Below is a chart showing the pronunciation of all 26 letters in English vs. Dutch. It is imperative that the student completely grasps the pronunciation of those letters which have a completely different sound in Dutch before attempting further training.
Dutch Alphabet Pronunciation
|L||el||el||Y / IJ||why||aye|
2. The pronunciation of the letter ‘G’ is by far the most difficult to master because it does not sound like anything in the English language. And unlike the sound of every other letter, which is made by the tongue and lips, the Dutch ‘G’ sound originates in the throat prior to reaching the mouth. This obstacle requires an infinite amount of practice.
3. Dutch grammar does not follow the same pattern as English where most sentence structure begins with the subject and is followed by a verb (for example, ‘She closed the door’). With Dutch, the action typically precedes the subject.
4. Filler words, such as hoor, wel, nou and er seem simple but can drastically change the meaning of a sentence based on the context it is used. As Serhat Sakarya, Director of the Taal Taal language institute in The Hague says, “sometimes a filler word can be left out of a sentence and the meaning doesn’t change, but at other times, it is the meaning.”
5. The last common hurdle for expats trying to learn Dutch is not getting enough practice. When a student tries to use the Dutch he/she is learning on a Dutch person, too often that person will reply in English. This can be frustrating for the learner since they are unable to tell whether their Dutch skills are improving. When this situation occurs, simply continue speaking Dutch and you’ll be able to determine if the other person is understanding what you are saying (whether they answer in English or Dutch).