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Is Dutch Hard to Learn?

Updated on February 8, 2011

Is Dutch Hard to Learn?

The question of whether Dutch is hard to learn or not is fairly subjective. It can depend on a whole manner of things, such as your learning experience and ability, how many languages you know already, are you living in the Netherlands, attending classes, studying often. The list can really be endless.

The main reason that Dutch is whacked with the ‘difficulty’ or ‘hard to learn’ label is that there are a couple of sounds that just do not exist in the English language. The ‘g’ sound is like a clearing of the throat mixed with the sound someone makes when they are about to spit (not a very delicate way to explain it, I know). They also have a long rolling ‘r’ and a more subtle ‘r’. The ‘g’ and the ‘r’ sounds are both completely foreign to most non-dutch speakers, and can be difficult to master.

If I had to answer whether I think Dutch is hard to learn, then I would say yes. But I would also say that any language is hard to learn, not just Dutch. If you are willing to study 1 hour everyday, and put in the effort it takes to learn another language then you will have success.

I myself am learning Dutch, and yes I would not say it is easy, but it is satisfying. Dutch is the first language I am attempting to learn with a relative amount of fluency. I am teaching myself using computer resources, the Internet, and books.

I am going to list some tips and hints that I have found useful in learning Dutch, and maybe you will find them helpful too!


I use a number of resources to learn Dutch, I don’t like to limit myself to one and I am a big fan of self-teaching using the technology and the Internet. Here is a list of the resources I have been using:

A computer program called Rosetta Stone (it does cost money), but it is a brilliant visual method of learning, and is great for learning the names of objects and basic sentence structure. It basically shows you an image and then has a native speaker TELL you what that image is. It does have it’s flaws (as it does not really explain or go in-depth), but when used in conjunction with other resources and methods I find it very effective.

A Dutch Grammar Book. Good for the nuts and bolts of sentence structure to assist with formulating your own sentences (rather then just saying phrases you have memorised) and also for spelling.

The Internet – certainly a broad and comprehensive resource to list, but if you do a bit of a search there are numerous websites that can assist with your learning of the Dutch language! Join an online community, get involved!

Google Translate – Fun for making up your own basic sentences using what you have learned and seeing if it translates to something that makes sense in your own language.

Hints & Tips

Repetition – This is where the learning happens. Practice and repetition. If you truly want to learn a language, then spend an hour or more a night on it! Or at the very least, a good few hours per week. Go over stuff you have already learned, that will assist you in retaining that knowledge.

Distractions – Remove all the unnecessary distractions that may hinder you. Don’t have your email or other websites open that aren’t related to your learning of Dutch. Ensure you can have your 1 hour of uninterrupted time.

Immersion – I assume that if you are going to learn Dutch, then you plan to visit the Netherlands! That will provide the ultimate immersion, but until then, why don’t you watch some Dutch TV, such as the news, and buy some Dutch movies. A great Dutch movie is called Zwartboek (Blackbook), and it is a brilliant movie (in Dutch with English subtitles) that has won numerous awards.

There are many little things you can do to help with your Dutch on a day to day basis. You could make up some little cards and place them on objects in your house with the appropriate Dutch word written on them. If you have a partner or friend who is also learning, you can talk to each other in basic Dutch. Use your imagination!

So is Dutch Hard to Learn?

So is Dutch hard to learn? Sure it is, but you need to work through the beginning stages where it all seems so confusing. Soon things will all start to slot together and make more sense. Learning another language is always worth the time!


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    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 4 years ago from Canada

      Interesting. I'm going to have to disagree however on the point that Dutch is difficult just because of the difficult sounds. Of course, no second language is "easy" to learn, but relative to other languages, Dutch is fairly simple. Next to Frisian, Dutch is the most closely related language to English. Unlike her other sister, German, Dutch has vastly reduced its inflection system.

      However, perhaps I am biased. I find Dutch easy as a native English speaker who knows German. In any case, I wouldn't market Dutch as an unusually difficult language. Frankly, I find Spanish much more difficult ;P

      I like this article though. I'm always interested to hear other people's language learning experience. I would also recommend the Michel Thomas method. I think the best way to start a language is through hearing and speaking. I always leave the grammar until after I have a sense of the sound and communicative aspects of a language.

    • profile image

      José 5 years ago

      Dutch, a hard language? Ha! Surely you don't know what Chinese is!

    • tomsum profile image

      tomsum 6 years ago from Australia

      @marathons - Hey, thanks for your comment :) Good to hear that what I wrote relates to someone else who can speak Dutch!

    • the50marathons17 profile image

      Michael 6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Good information. I speak Dutch and can relate to your article.

    • tomsum profile image

      tomsum 6 years ago from Australia

      @CBSElearners - Thanks for your comment :)

    • CBSElearners profile image

      CBSElearners 6 years ago

      Learning a new language can always be quite exciting, thanks for sharing your take on how learning Dutch need not be hard!