Maybe you are new (or not so new) to the Netherlands, and you have gotten by very well with English so far. After all, almost everyone speaks English, and Google translate will render Dutch texts at least semi-comprehensible in your native language. The feeling may arise, though, that you are not fully integrated locally, or a certain unease may surface when you cannot understand the homework your child brings home. The deadline for passing the inburgeringsexamen might be approaching. Maybe it’s a good time to start learning some Dutch?
Or perhaps you have a Dutch-speaking partner, but this has been no help in improving your language skills. It is often more natural to stick to the language you have used throughout your relationship, and a native speaker does not naturally qualify as a language teacher. Indeed, the more times you ask him or her for an explanation of a grammar rule, the more often you receive such satisfying answers as “good question,” “I don’t know,” or the ever so useful “I cannot explain- just because.” Maybe it’s a good time to find some outside language resources?
I am no expert on this matter, as I started learning Dutch a month or so ago. A simple Google search will provide a multiplicity of answers on how and where to learn Dutch, but the idea of this blog post is to put together a concise Delft-specific resource list and provide some feedback from local moms. The idea is not to advertise for one specific course or method but to share some ideas and start a conversation.
Perhaps the most well known place to learn Dutch in Delft is at TU Delft via the Delftse Methode. This “natural” method involves immersion in Dutch sounds and is meant to imitate the learning process of your native language rather than provide structured grammatical or thematical lessons. It receives mixed reviews from our Delft MaMa members.
Mariana shares, “I have just finished intensive Derde Ronde course at TU, and I have also done the first two with them. I moved here in August 2016 with no Dutch at all, and I finished the course at level C1. I could not recommend it highly enough. In my opinion, Delftse methode works if one works. And if one does not work, there is no method that will actually help.”
América agrees, “ I have the same opinion as Mariana. I did the beginners intensive course and learned to speak and understand basic Dutch in 5 weeks (of hard work of course).
Ali is also enthusiastic, “I also found the Delftse methode fantastic! It’s intense and hard work but so worth it. I could understand and speak basic Dutch after just 6 weeks! The method is full immersion and is supposed to be what it is like for a child that is learning to talk. I am not naturally gifted in languages but fore this method was amazing!”
According to Sanna, though, “I did the Delftse methode as well but a decade ago. I personally found the course very frustrating because it didn’t suit my learning style. However, I think that it’s a good method to learn basic Dutch very quickly and probably good for someone who has time to invest on the course and who prefers to learn by speaking. I wouldn’t recommend the course for someone who prefers to learn grammar rules and/or use more traditional methods to learn a language.”
Katerina adds, “I also did not like the Delftse methode… I felt like a parrot just cramming in words and not really understanding the structure.”
- Language Schools in Delft
Delft also hosts various other language schools, lessons, and private tutors.
Volksuniversiteit Delft holds Dutch For Foreigners classes for levels one, two, and three. The classes last 24 weeks and meet once per week on Wednesday evenings. The cost is €208.
Taal Collectief Delft offers private lessons (€40 an hour) and small group lessons (€30 per person for 90 minute lessons for two persons and €20 for three or more persons), as well as company trainings.
The International Neighbors Group also hosts small Dutch classes for members, currently on Monday evenings and Thursday mornings. The courses are taught by volunteers and inexpensive.
There are a variety of private tutors, and many Delft MaMa members chose to learn via this method. Luisa, for example, shares that “it’s really hard to learn Dutch, mainly because people switches to English when they realize you’re not Dutch. Sometimes I had to pretend I didn’t speak English to force them speak Dutch to me! I am following now a course in Delft, run by a private teacher in a “buurthuis” and I like it, we talk a lot and that’s what in the end you need to learn a language!”
- Language Courses Sponsored by the Municipality
The Delft municipality sponsors a program “Taal op eigen kracht” to help encourage residents to learn Dutch. The classes are subsidized, so generally less expensive than private schools at either €120 or €160 for a 20-24 week course, plus €20 for a book. The courses are usually held in the evenings, twice a week with two hours per class. Each class is run by an organization, which finds qualified teachers and manages relations with students. Some of the active organizations include: Stichting SIS Steunpunt Integratie en Samenleving, OIZD (Nushaba Mirzazade), and Ardemia (Selma Polat).
Delft mama Helen shares, “The courses I’m taking are organized by SIS, which is part of Taal op eigen kracht project. So far I’m pretty happy with them. The teachers and the course book used are good. Moreover, the director of SIS is very eager on helping prospective students getting into the course. She also responds to inquiries quickly. I would recommend SIS to people seeking a Dutch course.”
Delft mama Philippa furthers “I am currently studying in one sponsored by government that was advertised on Delft MaMa. I am enjoying it but need to be made to speak more and need to apply more time in my spare time to learning words.”
I agree with this assessment given my first month of learning Dutch in one of these courses. They do offer a good introduction, but you must study and practice outside of class to see an improvement in your language skills.
Roc Mondriaan also offers discounted Dutch classes to residents of Delft, Rijswijk, Pijnacker-Nootdorp or Midden Delfland. Participants must have either passed the inburgeringsexam or not be obliged to sit this exam. Three-hour long classes, which run 20 or 30 weeks, are held twice a week, both during the day and in the evenings. The costs are €30 for one year and either €50 for the book €70 if you are a beginner.
Delft mama Maria adds, “I did the Roc courses, and I liked it mainly because I had a very nice and good teacher. Roc finds you also a taal coach for language exchange, if you want it. I had a wonderful experience with my taal coach, and I think that this is a nice way not only for learning and exercising Dutch but also for discovering the culture (and Delft).” Iowa concurs, “I did a course as well in ROC Mondriaan and I had the same experience, as I had a really good teacher.”
- Practice your Dutch in Delft
Practice makes perfect, and practicing Dutch during a language hour or via a language exchange may be beneficial, especially as the Dutch easily revert back to English in everyday conversation.
The Dare to Dutch conversation hour previously met on Tuesday mornings, but there have been no meetings so far in 2017.
- Learning Online
Another good solution, especially for those with limited time or a preference for learning at their own pace are online lessons or classes.
Future Learn and the University of Groningen host a basic Dutch language MOOC. The current session began on February 27 and lasts three weeks.
I personally use Memrise for Dutch and other languages and would highly recommend the courses I have taken. The learning method ensures that you review content and also allows you to earn points if you are competitively inclined.
DutchPod101 has a similar set-up, but I must warn you that they send a lot of emails. I signed up a few days ago when researching this post and already have received half a dozen messages. If you just want access to their podcasts, though, as well as a few others in Dutch, you can look on TuneIn Radio.
- Outside Resource Links
There are innumerable sites or blogs on learning the Dutch language. Below are a few that you may find useful.
This post is not at all inclusive, as there are various other books, courses, and resources available to help learn Dutch. Perhaps the most important resource, though, is your own attitude. A can-do attitude and active desire to learn Dutch will help you advance all the more quickly.
Finally, please feel free to add more suggestions in the comments section.