Whether you’re looking to learn Dutch or you just find it interesting to learn about different languages, we want to answer some of the commonly asked questions about Dutch for you.
How many people speak Dutch?
Approximately 23 million people speak Dutch, meaning it’s way down on the list at position 56 in most spoken languages in the world. But don’t let that put you off learning it, because it’s an important language within Europe.
What language family does Dutch belong too?
Dutch belongs to the Germanic family just like English.
Where is Dutch spoken?
Dutch is an official language of the Netherlands, Belgium, Suriname, Sint Maarten, Aruba,
How similar are Dutch and German?
Dutch and German are similar in that they are both Germanic languages and Dutch would be relatively easy for a German speaker to learn compared to if they were going to learn Italian. But a German speaker wouldn’t be able to just understand a Dutch person if they hadn’t practised this skill or learned some Dutch themselves.
How many genders does Dutch have?
Unfortunately the answer to this isn’t as clear cut as you like. Because Dutch has different dialects depending on where the speaker is from, Dutch can either have two genders: male and female, or three genders: male, female and neuter.
What language has Dutch influenced?
It’s always interesting to know where a language comes from, but it’s also interesting to look at where a language has managed to influence and change other languages.
Dutch has had a big influence on the Indonesian language. There are many loan words and similarities between these two languages due to the time that Indonesia was a Dutch colony.
Afrikaans is also incredibly similar to Dutch. The language originated when Dutch settlers arrived in South Africa and spoke the Dutch that was around then. Obviously as time as moved, the two dialects of Dutch grew apart enough for Afrikaans to be classed as it’s own language, but there are still a lot of similarities, and it would be very easy for you to learn Afrikaans if you could speak Dutch.
About learning Dutch
How long does it take to learn Dutch?
Assuming that you have a few hours to dedicate to Dutch everyday or if you live in the country, then it should take you around nine months to become relatively fluent in Dutch.
Of course, this amount of time will change depending on you. If you only study Dutch once a week, it’s going to take you a lot longer, if ever. But if you commit yourself to only speaking Dutch and not using a word of your native language then you’ll be able to achieve fluency in a shorter time.
Everyone has different learning styles and takes their own time, so don’t be disheartened if you take a bit longer. It’s always good if you’re learning and unless you have a specific goal that you’re trying to reach then the time it takes you shouldn’t be as important if you’re enjoying the process and it fits around your life.
Why learn Dutch?
- It’s a germanic language, so it’s not too difficult for English speakers to learn
- It’s a useful language in Europe
- If you learn Dutch, it makes it incredibly easy to learn Afrikaans
- Dutch is a fun language to speak
- The phonemes aren’t very difficult for us
- It’s an official language of the UN
- It’s very similar to Indonesian too
What is the official Dutch language test?
The official Dutch language examination is the CNaVT. The exam tests the four common language skills; reading, writing, speaking and listening.
It uses the European framework of reference for languages, meaning you will be graded on a system of A1 – C2.
A1 – beginner
A2 – upper beginner
B1 – intermediate
B2 – upper imtermediate
C1 – advanced
C2 – near native
What Dutch books can I read?
Reading fiction is always a fun way to improve your language skills and we like the following books for learning Dutch on Amazon.
What Dutch movies can I watch?
Movies are always a great way to help improve your language skills and this is not different with Dutch. Movies let you listen to more naturally spoken Dutch and gives you an insight into Dutch culture and history.
Here are our favourite movies to watch to help improve your Dutch.
Soldier of orange
How can I practise my speaking?
One problem that people often have with Dutch is that it’s hard to practise their speaking because every Dutch speaker is just so good at English. You prepare yourself, put yourself out there, give it a go and you’re met with a smile and a response in English. This can be crushing but you don’t need to let it be.
If you are lucky enough to be in the Netherlands while you’re learning Dutch, then prepare yourself mentally for situations like this, and know that you can say something like ‘do you mind if we speak in Dutch, I’m trying to learn.’ Most of the time people will be happy to oblige you.
If you’re in the country, try and speak Dutch at every opportunity, and if you have a negative setback just push it aside and start again.
If you’re not in the country then some resources you can use to practise your speaking are:
Italki. Italki is a website where you can find people to do language exchanges with. You can search for people who speak Dutch as a native language and are looking to learn English, then you can arrange to talk on skype. You can also find teachers to speak with as well.
HelloTalk is quite similar to italki but it’s an app on your phone. This is an app that helps you find native speakers in your area, and you can chat to them and arrange to meet up.
Conversation exchange is another good resource to help you improve your Dutch speaking skills and the clue’s in the name. You basically search for people in your area, swap numbers and arrange to meet up. Or if there’s no one in your area you can try arranging skype sessions instead.
We hope you’ve found our common questions about the Dutch language useful. If you have any other questions you’d like to ask us, or if you have different answers that you would have given, then please let us know in the comments below.