#1 Make friends with the locals
Having friends that are Dutch and speak the language together is a great way to make sure that you are practising frequently.
Ask your friends to speak with you in Dutch. Encourage them to speak slowly and explain any words that you don’t know. The fastest way to pick up a language is to throw yourself into it.
Plus, being able to speak with your friends in their native language is a big motivation too.
#2 Enroll in a language course
Your university will hold both semester-long and intensive Dutch courses for students to attend. As an international student, you may even be able to attend classes at a discounted price.
Make friends with those in your class and make time to meet one another outside of the university. Practice your Dutch over a cup of coffee (of course, making sure to order that coffee using your new language skills).
Enrolling for a course is one of the best ways to learn a language. The Survival Dutch language courses (5 weeks) is for absolute beginners who are eager to learn Dutch in a fun and informal way. You can ask them any questions you have about both Dutch language and culture. Plus, they can help you get that tricky ‘g’ pronunciation right and practice your Dutch skills with the locals. Interesting, isn’t it?
#3 Download an app
Take your Dutch lessons one step further by downloading an app that you can use daily on your mobile phone.
These apps work best when used consistently. Dedicate at least fifteen minutes a day to practising the language on your app. This works best when done at the same time every day as you won’t forget to put aside time for it.
#4 Buy a kid’s book
While you might not be ready to start reading magazines and newspapers just yet. Buying and reading a children’s book can be a great way to learn new words and develop your literacy skills in a new language.
After all, that’s exactly where all Dutch children started with their own language skills.
#5 Watch Dutch TV and listen to the radio
Reading is one thing. But learning to understand Dutch from the way that speakers sound out the words can be a much more difficult skill to master.
Take time to watch Dutch television and listen to Dutch radio shows. Learn the lyrics to your favourite Dutch song and translate it.
Absorbing Dutch popular culture will not only develop your skills at the language but will also give you some insight into the culture of the country too. Plus, it will give you more to discuss with your Dutch friends.
#6 Ask strangers to speak with you in Dutch
One of the most difficult parts of learning Dutch is the fact that everyone will quickly switch to English if they see that you are struggling.
As you go about your daily life in the Netherlands, ask the strangers that you meet to speak with you in Dutch. If they switch to English, you can say ‘Kunnen we Nederlands praten?’
If you are struggling to keep up with the conversation, ask them to speak slower. If you understand what they are saying but cannot reply in Dutch. Simply ask them to speak Dutch and explain that you will reply in English.
This is a great and effective way to develop your language skills when it comes to everyday conversations. The Survival Dutch team got you covered here too, they will dare you to speak with locals and strangers.
#7 Make it fun
Treat language learning as a game and you will have much more fun with it. The more fun it is, the more inspired you will be to learn.
Try and write a poem or a rhyme in Dutch. Throw Dutch phrases into text messages or use them with your non-Dutch friends.
Learn fun sayings and teach them to others - perhaps you could even learn a chat-up line in Dutch (but be sure to make it respectful).
#8 Don’t worry about getting it wrong
When it comes to language learning, the most important thing is not to worry about getting things wrong. Making mistakes will only help you improve in the long run.
Of course, knowing the correct grammar is important, and especially useful when you are reading and writing. But don’t be too afraid to say something just because you don’t know the correct gender or word order of the sentence. A combination of the above will move your Dutch off the ground in a very short amount of time.
So, practice your Dutch, even when you are not sure whether you are getting it right. Your Dutch friends will correct you and eventually, your language skills will develop.