It’s the question all expats in the Netherlands ask me: “How many hours will it take for me to learn Dutch?” The question of how long it takes to learn Dutch is not a simple question to answer. While this Cambridge paper suggest it takes an average of 200 hours to progress from one CEFR level to another (for example, A2 to B1), there are lots of factors that impact the time each student needs to learn Dutch. The answer depends on your personal history, actions, and environment.
Core factors that impact how fast you will learn Dutch tend to be:
1. The amount of input you are exposed to
Do you regularly spend time around people who are speaking Dutch? Do you listen to Dutch music or watch Dutch television or movies with subtitles? If so, great! Just like small children, we adults absorb and learn a lot just by being exposed to the language and from listening to others.
2. Whether you have clear learning objectives
Are you studying for a fluency exam, do you want to be able to make conversation with coworkers, or are you trying to get a job in Dutch? Whatever the reason is, having a clear learning objective not only helps you focus your studying so you can achieve the results you want, but also gives you a lot of motivation to keep working at it even when it’s hard.
3. Your native language and the languages you speak
What your mother tongue is will impact how easy it is to learn Dutch, especially since certain languages (like English, German, and Afrikaans) share many similarities with Dutch. But it’s not just what your first language is, it’s also whether you speak multiple languages. If you have already spent time learning a second or third language, you have gained valuable and transferrable language learning skills.
4. Your chosen teaching methodology
Not all classes or study methods are created equal! When you choose an experienced, certified Dutch teacher like me, you know you are giving yourself the best chance possible to learn the language, especially compared to impersonal approaches like apps or exercise books.
5. The amount of study time outside of lessons
I know you don’t necessarily want to hear it, but practicing and studying on a regular basis is what is really what is going to accelerate your learning! Even if it’s just 15-30 minutes every day, it makes a HUGE difference on how much of what you learn you will retain.
6. Your aptitude for language learning
We all have our strengths and weaknesses, so for some people, learning new languages is just easier, like this Dutch guy who speaks 18 languages! That doesn’t mean some people don’t have to work at it though – we all do. I offer small group classes of 4 to 6 students so I can provide personalized support to each student. This personalized support ensures they get great results, no matter how confident they each are learning languages.
Some of us Dutchies like to think that our language is one of the most difficult languages to learn. Although all the guttural sounds, weird vowel combinations, and the different word order (compared to English) might seem a challenge to you, I can assure you that is not the case. Not only are there are no “hard” languages (just languages that are harder to learn depending on your mother tongue), Dutch is considered an easy language for English speakers to learn because it’s very closely related! You don’t need a “talenknobbel” (a language node – expression used when talk about someone who is good at learning languages) to learn Dutch! (Read this previous blog post if you want to correct some of the common small mistakes Dutch learners make.)
Check out this map below that shows Dutch as one of the easiest European languages for English speakers to learn. On average, Dutch takes almost half the time to learn compared to Greek, Finnish, or Polish, and almost a quarter of the time to learn compared to Arabic!
You can learn more about my Dutch course options here, or contact me for more information. I would also encourage you to sign up to receive my newsletter in which I share updates and exclusive Dutch learning content for expats! If you want to get to know me and my teaching style first, you are welcome to check out student testimonials or join one of my free trial classes… I hope to see you there!