First Steps with Dutch

I’ve been working with Assimil’s Dutch with Ease course the past week and a half or so, and I’m now up to lesson 21. I’ve usually been able to do a few lessons each day instead of the recommended 1 per day, due to how similar Dutch is to German. My knowledge of German, coupled with my native English, is making Dutch seem extremely easy. It almost looks like someone took German, removed almost all of the tricky grammar, and then mixed it with English; the result was Dutch. Often when listening to the lessons, it sounds like someone speaking a mix of German and English with a strange accent. 🙂

The thing I’m having the most trouble with at this point is pronunciation. Some of the dipthongs are still puzzling me, and while I understand the pronunciation of g / ch, I’m having some trouble producing it myself. I’m not too worried about it though, as I’m fairly sure more listening and practice will take care of it. I’m also going to have to be careful about nailing down spellings, as many of them are similar to German words, but not exactly the same. I plan on transcribing the lessons by hand, which should help a lot.

All in all, I’m quite happy I started learning Dutch; I think it’s going to be fairly easy to get a good foundation in it (in comparison to say, Russian, which I’m still battling with). I’d like to find some good Dutch-only podcasts, so if you know of some, drop ’em in the comments.

9 thoughts on “First Steps with Dutch”

  1. Hi guy! I would like to know how did you learn Russian? You’ve had audio lessons? Did you read any book? I finished russian with michel tomas about 2 weeks ago but I am still feeling very “newbie” in Russian and I don’t want to lose the time I spent on learning russian basics, I really want to improve my russian skills… Any tips?
    Thank you very much!

  2. Hehe, “hé!” is like “hey!”, where “hè?” is “isn’t it?” or “what?”. That’s by the way the official way they’re spelt. é indicates a long sound where è is a short.

    Personally I like the news broadcasts from Radio 1 or the in-depth things like “Casa Luna”. You can download the podcasts from http://www.radio1.nl -> Terugluisteren.

  3. If you already know German and English, then Dutch will be a breeze. The only things you need to watch out for are false friends and spelling.

    As for the “g” sound, if it’s any consolation, I still have problems pronouncing it properly even after 3 years of living in the Netherlands. I can usually manage it but not if the word has both a “h” and “g” in it (e.g. geheugen) or has multiple “g”s (e.g. gegeven). My self-confidence was given a bit of a blow today when I asked for some postzegels (stamps) at our local supermarket. I have a bit of a sore throat so the “g” didn’t really come out as well as it should have, which prompted the lady behind the desk to stare blankly at me and ask me to repeat my request *4* times. Maybe she was just deaf…

  4. @Kelly
    Maybe that’s because you’re used to Andalusian Spanish, because the jota is pretty close to the Dutch g.

    People from the Antilles pronounce the g as an h by the way, just like Andalusians do. Must be the influence from the Spanish speaking islands around.

  5. The trick to pronouncing the ‘g’ is blowing out air while pressing the sides of the posterior part of you tongue against the inside of your teeth, and keeping the tip of your tongue lower. At least this is the more southern way of pronouncing it. More to the north they keep the anterior part of their tongue even higher and more anterior of their teeth. Which makes a harder ‘g’, if you overdo it, it’s like grrrr.

    I’m more from the south of the netherlands, and I’ve always been bullied about my soft ‘g’, even for me it took several years to get the harder ‘g’.

    But it’s rather similar to the german ‘ ch’.

    Most television and radio stations have live and old feeds on their sites. It’s not clear to me if these are available from outside the netherlands. But you can try http://www.uitzendinggemist.nl it contains most of the feeds from the public channels for television and radio.

    http://www.radiocast.nl is more specific for the dutch public radio channels.

    I don’t ever specifically listen to dutch podcasts, but why not google podcast for pages in dutch? That’s what I do if I want to weed out all english sites. But you probably already did that?

  6. Hey, I am really glad to read that you are so interested in learning all of these wonderful world languages. I have a great site for learning up to 5 languages, (some of which you may still even be interested in) and I would like for you to just check it out, and let me know what you think. I hope to hear from you soon, and have a GREAT week!

  7. Hi Josh,

    I know of two useful resources to learn Dutch:

    1. A podcast called “Laura Speaks Dutch” – http://www.lauraspeaksdutch.info/
    2. An audio course by Michel Thomas.

    Both are interesting and different in their own ways, neither using traditional methods to learn languages. You can find both of these on iTunes.

    Good luck. I’ll be interested to follow the results on your blog.

    John.

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