- Smartphone Learning Program
('Holland' / 'The Netherlands'
The Internet makes it possible to hear the sounds of foreign languages
at the click of a mouse - you won't find that in a book or a
language course on an audio CD. My website makes learning Dutch
easier - and more fun too, I hope. Allow me to pilot your course
Learning a foreign language is hard work. If you're serious about
Dutch, you'll have to learn about a thousand basic words and how to
pronounce them; you'll have to learn how words change like for
instance in the plural, you'll have to memorize the verb forms and get
a feel for the word order in Dutch sentences.
You've come to the right place for the rigorous learning. All that
material is on my website - but next to that my website also offers
many pages that are (I hope) interesting or fun to read, telling about
the country, the people and the 'culture' (including recipes) - and those pages often have Dutch
words and phrases - more relaxed, a different environment from
learning words from lists:
As I said, you should make those one thousand
basic words your
active vocabulary, words you can call up from memory when
needed in conversation or writing. In addition to that, you should build a
passive vocabulary for reading and listening, words that you
recognize and know the meaning of.
After you've mastered the basic words, I strongly recommend getting a
Dutch-Dutch dictionary (where the words are explained/described in
Dutch) - this will force you to learn more Dutch and it will put you
more in a Dutch mindset, focus you on Dutch, and take you away from
the intermediary language. To start with, a small, basic one is probably better
than a large one, so you don't get confused by uncommon words.
In the lessons I tried to combine the serious learning with lighter
reading like essays and picture vocabulary - but the lessons are a bit light
on vocabulary. It would be a good idea to start learning
20 basic Dutch words a day after lesson 4.
We're not in school. You're free to learn Dutch whatever
way you think best: set your
own goals, follow your own timetable, or just pick up a few words or
phrases as needed. If you just want to browse through my pages or
hopscotch (rayuela) according to your own plan, that's fine
with me. My pages can be
a resource and a set of suggestions.
But if you'd like some guidance, there's a Method below on the
left, and a stricter Lessons Program below on the right. If you're
only interested in reading Dutch, go to
below on the right, lower down. You could of course also start learning Dutch
with just reading, and go to listening and speaking later.
Using Smartphone Pages
A nice page to start:
Colors and Materials
- or if you know English well, you could
for a first introduction look at
and hear the 'recognizable words' on the
Easy Dutch pages. They do not
offer a complete Dutch vocabulary but will give you a head start.
Then listen to a few longer Dutch texts, like
poems and songs, readings from
my Dutch short stories,
Readings from the Bible
(no religious endorsement implied)
just to hear the language. When you look at the text, you'll
notice that Dutch spelling is fairly phonetic.
Regular Dutch may be a little fast for you. The
Slow Dutch page
might help you get up to speed.
Watching Dutch movies or videos with English subtitles
(for instance at:
is also a good way to get an idea of what Dutch is like,
and will again be helpful later on.
I would recommend to take the instruction in small doses, like twenty
minutes once or twice a day. For most people that will be much more
effective than a few long sessions.
It's probably best to study the
How are the letters said in Dutch? Listen to the sound files.
Wouldn't pronouncing Dutch words be a nice way to spend some time with
a friend? Compare with how I say the words and rate each other's efforts.
(The #2 links are not a continuation but another approach to the material.)
a, e, i, o, u
au, ei, eu, ij, oe, ou, ui
long and short
a/aa - e/ee - i/ie - o/oo - u/uu
b c d f g h j k l m n p q r s t v w x z
Later you can find all pronunciation
together on the
Check your Dutch pronunciation and build
vocabulary by studying my collection of 'recognizable' words, words
identical of similar to English:
Next to these Desktop pages you could also use the
Smartphone pages about the subject,
like when you're away from your desk
Then further familiarize yourself with
- the spelling rules
- (old version.)
This is not as hard as
it may look, for Dutch spelling is much more straightforward than
English - but still, Dutch has
exceptions and irregularities
- (old version) too
- though you might want to save this for later.
Work on Pronunciation Exercises:
Try to say the words correctly, then listen to how I say them; record
yourself or invite a friend
and work on it together. Listening to
the sound files on this page is also good for getting a sense of the language.
You could also work on the
Word Order Pages
start with very simple sentences you could listen to:
At this point it would be good to learn
some common Dutch phrases -
|"dank U wel"
||Thank you - polite
|"dank je wel"
||Thank you - informal
||Please - polite
||Please - informal
|and: "Hoe duur is dit?"
||What's the price on this?
From there, I would recommend you try to memorize twenty to twenty-five words
a day. The nice thing is, it's not like in school, that you have to
learn all the words in the book. Choose words from a field that has
your interest or words that you think will come in useful, and feel
free to skip words that look less useful. You can always return to
them later. Choose the page that appeals to you from the pictures and
Learning words is not the most exciting thing in the world, but it's
probably the best way to start learning a language.
The mostly-text 'Basic, 'Everyday'
Dutch' pages are based on the list of about 850 very carefully chosen
'Basic English' words that Ogden and Richardson came up with in
the 1920s. They thought that this basic vocabulary would be enough for
almost all everyday communication.
The Basic Words may not look as nice as the picture pages, but
systematic study of the list will be the quickest way to master some
useful Dutch. Here's a
Old Version of short pages
You could also start with the Basic 'Everyday Items' picture pages:
and later choose other subjects that interest you:
Another set of vocabulary pages, not as many pictures,
choose subjects you're interested in:
Fairy Tales -
- Speaking Dutch
Eating and Drinking
Jobs and Lines of Work
- Likes and Dislikes
Longer, 'Thesaurus' Pages:
Smartphone Versions of the pages above (or part of
them) could be useful when you're away from your desk:
- Basic Words
- Pocket Pictures Dictionary
For your passive vocabulary you could (among others) read the hopefully
Easy Dutch pages.
Dutch Sayings and Standard Phrases
English to Dutch
pictures to Dutch words
770 'Basic' Words
- with pictures - start:
conversation lines and a few
Following your own interests, start memorizing
The best training would be to talk with and
exchange letters with a real Dutchman, or with the more formidable
Dutchwoman, but lacking those, talking Dutch with a fellow student
will already teach you some Dutch. Imaginary conversations and trying to write
Dutch are also helpful in learning the language.
Practice will tell you which words and what grammar you need,
and make you look for those. Learning will feel more focused and
useful, less like an academic exercise or memorizing seemingly random
less embarrassing. It's difficult to show that you're still learning.
Take breaks from your daily words lists to:
From time to time, revisit old pages like spelling and pronunciation.
Dutch Vowel Sounds Compared
Dutch Consonants Review
Study Common Problems with Dutch
Once you have a basic knowledge of Dutch you could start reading
something simple, maybe Annie MG Schmidt's children's stories, like
'Jip and Janneke,' or 'Pluk van de Petteflet.' Some of her books are also
available in audio versions.
You can find Dutch books at
or at Amazon.com special orders.
The large Dutch online store
also has secondhand out-of-print items.
Another online Dutch bookstore:
Secondhand Dutch books (website in Dutch)
When visiting Holland,
do step into a bookstore;
you could also
look in at the 'HEMA' supermarket chain for their 'Jip and Janneke'
series and other children's books and audiobooks (or
Also have some of the HEMA's famous
('smoked sausage') when you're there.
Unfortunately there's no
'Basic Dutch,' so you'll have to start with children's books.
The children's Bibles 'Kijkbijbel' (graphics by Kees de Kort) or
'Bijbelse Verhalen voor Jonge Kinderen' (by D.A. Cramer-Schaap and
Annemarie van Haeringen) might also be useful when you're familiar
with Scripture. Dutch online Bibles:
- Dutch audio Bible:
When you can understand written Dutch but have difficulty with spoken
Dutch, the pages where I read longer texts will again be useful study
Listening Overview Page
Review with the 1-Page Dutch
Summary of the most important pronunciation, spelling and grammar
Online Dutch newspapers, for instance:
Het Algemeen Dagblad
or De Telegraaf -
start with articles about subjects that you're familiar with from
other news sources.
short Dutch videos with both Dutch and English (and other) subtitles
If not now, when?
Als je 't nu niet doet, wanneer dan wel?
[If you don't do it now, when are you?]
Dutch Language Lessons
I hope to publish a new lesson every
- A Stricter Program -
month two months or so ...
Each lesson starts with a Dutch text to listen to, then some grammar,
usually some vocabulary, a short side subject like numbers or units
of measure, and a little essay about Dutch or Holland.
Listen to Dutch - Vowels (1) - Vocabulary - 'Holland' and 'Nederland'
Listen to Dutch - Vowels (2) - Vocabulary (man, family) - Numbers 1-10 - 'Dutch'
Listen to Dutch - Spelling Short and Long Vowels - Vocabulary (Food, House) -
Numbers 10-20 - Broadcasting in Holland
Listen to The Dutch Anthem - 'Voiceless E' - The Article -
Vocabulary (Clothing) - Numbers 20-100 (#1) - The Dutch Revolt
- now start learning about twenty words a day from the
Basic Dutch list
Listen to a children's song - Colors - Adjectives - Numbers 20-100
The Catholic Minority in Holland
Numbers 100-9999 - Time, Days, Months - This and That - Cognates
From A Famous Book - Personal Pronouns - To Be (Present Tense) -
High and Low Numbers - Chatham
The Finest Dutch Writing - To Have (Present Tense) -
Consonants - Polders: The Reclaimed Land - Weather -
More of The Finest Dutch Writing - Verbs: The Simple Present -
Useful Phrases - Ordinal Numbers - The Large Water Projects
Hear More Multatuli - Exceptions and Irregularities in Dutch Spelling and
Street Words - Fractions - Inches and Centimeters
'Render Unto Caesar' - The Past Tense of To Have and To Be -
Adjectives and Adverbs (Word Order 1) - Walkabout: Living Room -
Feet, Yards and Miles to Meters and Kilometers -
The Education System in Holland
Hear More Multatuli - Verbs: The Simple Past, The Perfect Present -
The Most Common Verbs - Strong Verbs -
Sitabout: Your Desk - Cups and Gallons to Liters - My Home Town
Hear a Dutch Folktale - The Passive Voice -
Simple Sentences, Simple Questions (Word Order 2)
- Grams and Kilograms to Ounces and Pounds
- Elections, Parties and Government in Holland
Hear More Multatuli -
The Future Tense - Word Order 3: Secondary Verbs,
More Questions, Commands and Suggestions - Outdoors -
The Neighborhood - The Metric System
Hear More Nescio - The Dutch Continuous -
Word Order 4 - Beauty and Cleanliness - Fahrenheit and Celsius -
Thoughts on Things Dutch (Instead of A Blog)
A few subjects are not dealt with in the lessons, for instance
If you're only interested in reading Dutch, or if you want to
start Dutch with reading,
you could begin with a text and look up each word in a dictionary - but
a little preparation will save you time and make it easier and more
enjoyable. Dictionaries may also not list all the various forms of
words. I would recommend to read up on a few subjects, so you'll
know where to find these words:
Dutch words sometimes change spelling when an ending with E is added,
like for instance the plural of vloot ('a fleet') is written
vloten while the plural of vlot ('a raft,' think of: to
float) is vlotten.
vloot - plural: vloten
vlot - plural: vlotten
You can read about this beautiful Dutch dance of single and double
vowels and consonants in
lesson 3. It would also be a good idea to
familiarize yourself with Dutch
The large entries for prepositions in dictionaries are in my own experience
often not very useful. It may be helpful to you to study the basic,
literal meaning of prepositions:
Basic Dutch sentences have about the same word order as English, but more
complicated lines are sometimes a little different from English:
I may have a vocabulary page of the subject of your
The 'disambiguation' pages, about common words with
multiple meanings will also be very useful to readers.
The 'Listening Overview' page links to many
of Dutch texts with English translation.
If you have time, you could start by reading the Dutch version of a
book you're already familiar with. It is said that Schliemann of
Troy taught himself foreign languages that way.