Is Dutch really a difficult language for your child to learn? We are going to clear up the mystery of Dutch as a difficult language for your child in this blog. Have you ever been curious about what it’s like for your child to learn the Dutch language? This language with its guttural sounds, a seemingly endless stream of consonants, and ‘de- and het-words’. Indeed, because of this, many parents think that Dutch is a challenging language to master. However, the truth may surprise you.
In this blog, we dive into the mystery surrounding the difficulty of learning Dutch. We discuss the unique characteristics of the language, such as its grammatical structure, pronunciation, and vocabulary. We also look at possible obstacles to learning Dutch and its many advantages. All this to ultimately consider whether Dutch really deserves its reputation as a “difficult language.
Whether you are a parent of a child who is learning or about to learn Dutch, or whether you yourself are multilingual or a language fanatic…. Read along and find out if Dutch is as difficult as it seems to some people.
What information can you find in this article?
- Introduction to learning Dutch as a foreign language
- Common mistakes about Dutch being a difficult language for your child to learn
- Some resources and opportunities to learn Dutch for your child
- Tips and strategies for your child to learn Dutch effectively
- Immersion in the language and culture of the Netherlands
- Challenges while learning Dutch
- Overcoming the difficulties your child experiences and staying motivated
- Success stories of children who learned Dutch
- In conclusion: Dutch is not really a difficult language for your child to learn
- Yes, my child also wants to learn Dutch: how do you go about it?
Learning Dutch as a foreign language can be an exciting challenge. If your child is already familiar with other Germanic languages such as English or German, Dutch will probably seem more familiar to them. This is because of the similarities in vocabulary and grammar. If your child speaks a language such as Chinese or one of the languages of Africa, the Dutch language differs more from their native language and learning will be more difficult.
Dutch also has unique features that make learning it challenging for children. In particular, basic grammar and word order are not easy learning points.
Compare, for example, “I’m playing sports tomorrow” (subject before finite form), “Tomorrow I’m playing sports” (subject after finite form), and “Because I’m playing sports tomorrow” (finite form at the very end). For each sentence, you have to choose the right order quickly and in advance.
Dutch also has a fairly complex system of articles and different plurals. This can be confusing for non-native speakers. It is important to learn these principles properly from the ground up, practice them and build a solid foundation of Dutch grammar and sentence structure. We at Dutch for Children never skip this step in our lessons because it is the basis for further learning the Dutch language.
There are a number of mistakes about the difficulty of learning Dutch. One of the most common is: that Dutch is a language consisting mainly of consonants. It is true that Dutch has some consonant sounds that are not found in other languages, but Dutch also has many vowels.
Another misconception is that Dutch has a difficult pronunciation. However, it depends, among other things, on your child’s native language whether this is and remains a real problem. It helps if your child hears more and more Dutch through, for example, videos, lessons, and, ideally contact with Dutch children. During Dutch lessons, your child can hear good examples, practice with guidance and thus become increasingly proficient in pronunciation. You can also find many teacher practice videos with which your child can practice. You can find a video about short and long sounds through this link.
There are several resources and opportunities available to help your child learn Dutch.
A good way to start is to have your child take Dutch lessons to master at least the basics. This can be online or at a physical school. When choosing classes, make sure the teachers are qualified to teach children and speak Dutch as their native language.
There are different types of Dutch classes offered for children. Finding the right kind of lessons for him can be difficult when considering online lessons. Several factors include what profile your child falls into. Dutch for Children has described these profiles to make choosing an online lesson easier. These are meant as guidelines. Also, the ages are based on averages. Note: We always discuss the possibilities in a personal conversation. Then together, we make a final decision on what is best for your child.
Many online resources, such as dictionaries, teacher explanation videos, and exercises, are also available. Here we mention two specially created exercise sites for children:
Junior Einstein: for primary education ages 4-12 (partly free)
Cambiumned: for secondary school age 12-18 (totally free)
When you have the opportunity to go to the Netherlands with your child for vacation, for example, you can enroll your child in an exchange program or camp. This is a great way for your child to practice with Dutch children who speak Dutch as their native language. Speaking skills and confidence in using the language get a huge “boost” this way. If you are curious about what the Netherlands has to offer in this area, read this article that includes summer camps in the Netherlands.
There are several tips and strategies that can help your child learn Dutch effectively. First, continuity is important. See if it works for your child to practice with regularity. This can be done daily or a few times a week. Depending on your child’s schedule.
It is also important that your child gets varied learning activities in his lessons and exercises. At Dutch for Children, we, therefore, combine, for example, reading texts with listening exercises and speaking practice. This way, your child will understand the language better and develop different skills.
Furthermore, it is also helpful if your child immerses himself (or has himself immersed) in the language as much as possible. This can be done by watching Dutch movies and TV programs, listening to Dutch music, and thinking in Dutch, for example, during language games. The more exposure he has to the language, the faster he will progress.
Finally, it is important that there is no pressure on your child. Learning takes time, effort, and practice. Often in addition to his day school and other activities. This is facilitated if your child feels comfortable, continues to make sense of it, and thus remains motivated.
Through this link, you can read how long it takes approximately for your child to learn Dutch. Of course, every child and situation is different.
One of the best ways to improve your child’s language skills and gain confidence in speaking Dutch is to immerse your child in the language and culture. If you have the opportunity, consider traveling to the Netherlands and having your child do an exchange program or camp there, for example.
Immersing in a Dutch-speaking environment will expose your child to the language in everyday situations and have more opportunities to interact with Dutch people and children. This improves listening and speaking skills.
In addition, you can also do all kinds of cultural activities together during a vacation, for example, visiting museums, festivals, and historical sites. This will increase his (and perhaps your) understanding of Dutch culture. These are fun activities to do with your child in the Netherlands.
While learning Dutch can be fun and rewarding, there are also challenges and obstacles your child will face. One of the challenges, including from teachers, is finding the right balance between learning grammar and increasing your vocabulary.
It is important to keep practicing both aspects of the language, but grammar, in particular, is less fun and difficult. Moreover, learning and practicing this does not give immediate noticeable results. With increasing vocabulary, that is immediately noticeable.
Practicing sounds and conjugations
In addition, the pronunciation of some sounds can be a challenge, especially for children learning Dutch as a second or third language. It is important to give this time and keep practicing. This can be done in Dutch class, during family conversations, or with relatives. If Dutch is not spoken in your child’s immediate environment, you can let him watch and listen to videos, series, and podcasts in Dutch, for example.
This also applies to the use of inflections and conjugations. Verbs and adjectives change form depending on the gender, number, and tense of the sentence.
Does your child experience trouble with the articles?
The three genders in Dutch can be tricky. This is because the use of genders for nouns can be different from your child’s native language. Unlike English, where there are no genders, Dutch has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. This can make learning the word genders and corresponding articles challenging.
Is your child already learning Dutch and continues to find the articles tricky? Then you can download the free e-book from Dutch for Children through this link with a good foundation for learning and practicing the articles.
These things may seem confusing at first, but with practice and exposure to the language, your child can master these grammatical rules.
The most important thing with children is to maintain motivation to learn. This can be done through parental and environmental involvement in the language, interactive lessons, and connection to your child’s world of experience. And do not forget with older children: the purpose or usefulness for them to learn Dutch.
One way for your child to stay motivated is to set goals together. The more realistic the goals, the better. Pay attention to when your child achieves one or more goals. For some children, a reward system works nicely. Consider a sticker chart of goals, for example, or every 5 or 10 lessons he has taken. When a sticker card is full, you reward: that can be anything from getting ice cream to going to the movies together. This can help your child stay motivated and see his progress.
In addition, exposing your child to the language in different ways is and always will be fun and helpful. Read Dutch books to him, or have him read books, watch Dutch movies and TV shows together, and listen to Dutch music. This will help keep your child’s interest in the language alive and encourage him to continue learning.
Again with emphasis: It is important for your child to have a support network. You and your partner, family, and friends, children who speak Dutch, etc. It is enormously motivating if the people around him are enthusiastic and encourage him.
What is good NT2 education?
In conclusion, what is the power of good NT2 education? The power of good teaching of children learning Dutch as a second language (NT2) lies in several important aspects. One of the most important and immediately underestimated factors is the attitude toward other languages and cultures. Read more about the important aspects via this link.
There are many success stories of children who have learned Dutch. Below, teachers from the Dutch for Children team tell some of these stories of their students:
After several months of teaching, a preschooler moved to Holland. There he went to group 1. He will now go to group 3 after the vacation. He has picked up the Dutch language so quickly that he is already reading books by himself and can even do text-reading comprehension. After class, he even gives Dutch lessons to Mom and Dad. So much fun!
A student from South Africa came to the Netherlands and first went to group 1. She now goes directly to group 4 after the vacations with a wonderful report card. She has made great strides in reading and understanding the Dutch language.
Less than a year ago, a student from Turkey only listened during class. He now speaks in sentences and knows how to make himself understood.
A student was in an international school where almost no Dutch was spoken. He went to a Dutch secondary school last year and is doing so well that he no longer needs Dutch lessons from Dutch for Children.
A father enthusiastically says that he can now talk more with his daughter now that she dares to speak more and more Dutch. He is so happy because it has created an even better bond between him and his daughter.
All these stories show that it is possible to learn the language. Even if it seems difficult at first. Many NT2 learners have improved their language skills with the help of their parents, teacher, practice, and exposure to the language. Some children with another mother tongue immigrated to the Netherlands with their parents and started at a Dutch school. These inspiring success stories show that a lott is possible with the right effort, tools, and motivation.
Thank you, you played an important role during our emigration and transition in our daughter’s development. A quote from a father of a South African teenage student. The lessons made the transition from South Africa to the Netherlands easier. Not only because of the lessons in language but also in Dutch culture and being a sounding board for this teenager.
Also, read the many positive experiences of children and the parents of our students about learning the Dutch language via our review page.
Although Dutch has a few unique characteristics that can make learning it challenging, it is not as difficult as it sometimes seems. With the right guidance, practice, and motivation, any child can learn the Dutch language. A positive attitude toward the language and the country helps tremendously.
Learning Dutch is an adventure that expands your child’s horizons and offers him new opportunities To hold or learn about the Dutch language and culture, the possibility (open) to study in the Netherlands, to continue speaking Dutch with any family, and of course the enormous gift of having grown up multilingual for the rest of his life.
Are you convinced, and do you want your child to take up this challenge? Feel free to contact us via the mail or contact page. We can advise you on what suits your child and your situation best or answer any questions you may have.