Choose the methods and tools that work for you
Goals + personal situation = your learning plan
On the ‘Start learning Dutch: set your goal’ page, we showed how to set goals when it comes to learning Dutch. If you wrote those down, then you now have a list with an final goal, intermediate steps and a number of short-term goals.
If you have also read through the page ‘How do you learn the best? Learning Dutch more effectively with self-awareness’, you may have thought about your level of education, your language level, your learning preferences, possibilities for practising and your budget.
In fact, without realizing it, you have already made a sort of curriculum. This kind of curriculum looks, for example, like this:
For those who like group work and clear structure for studying, a language course can be a great way to learn Dutch.
Language courses are offered throughout the Netherlands, for each level of education and for different goals. There are courses that prepare you for an exam (for example, the integration exam or the State Examination NT2), and general language training that allows you to work toward a specific language level (for example, from A2 to B1).
Time and costs of a language course
How much time studying takes differs by course. On average, you have lessons in a language course four hours a week, and you have homework for six to eight hours a week.
The costs vary greatly by language school: the price ranges from € 7.00 to € 20.00 per hour. For a complete language course, you will need more lessons and thus pay more than when you only follow an exam training.
Advantages of a language course
- Studying with others can be more motivating than studying independently.
- Lots of opportunities to practise with fellow students.
- A teacher can help you choose an efficient approach.
- The lessons have a clear structure, so that you work systematically.
Disadvantages of a language course
- You are bound to a fixed time and a fixed place, so there is little flexibility.
- The costs are usually higher than when you study independently.
On the website of Blik op Werk, you can find an overview of language schools in the Netherlands, and you can search comprehensively by location, price and level of education.
Do you enjoy freedom in studying, and do you like to be able to decide for yourself what you learn and when? Then studying independently may be right for you.
The most efficient way to study independently is with an NT2 (Dutch as a second language) method. There are complete study methods in book form and online, with which you practise all the skills, methods with which you can prepare for an exam and methods that focus on a subskill, such as reading, grammar or vocabulary. Some study methods are more suitable for independent study than others.
Starting to learn Dutch? Then choose a study method that fits your goal and that is developed for self-study.
Time and costs of studying independently
Studying every day for 20 minutes or two hours straight once a week: when you study independently, you decide how often, how long and when you study. The costs of independent study are entirely dependent on the study methods you choose and the additional tools you purchase. For example, for an online Dutch course for foreigners (0 to A2 level) you spend € 75.00.
Advantages of studying independently
- You are flexible: you choose where, when and how often you work on learning Dutch.
- The costs are lower than when you follow a language course.
- You only learn what you want to learn. If, for example, you only want to learn to write better, you can choose a study method that is entirely focused on writing skills.
Disadvantages of studying independently
- It is harder to stay motivated and disciplined than when working in a group. It is thus important to make a clear plan and to be strict with yourself.
- You do not have any fellow students with whom to practise, so it is important to find opportunities to practise with others in your own environment.
- If you get stuck, there is not a teacher nearby who can help you further. See whether you can get help from a Dutch person close to you, or from a language coach.
Learning Dutch with a language coach
It is not easy to master a new language. Even people who have already taken a language course or are working with a study book sometimes struggle with reading, listening, writing, speaking or grammar.
Language coaching provides a solution for people who want to work on their Dutch language skills in a personal way. A language coach is a volunteer with whom you meet every week, to practise the language in an informal way.
Anyone can learn Dutch with a language coach; it does not matter whether you recently arrived in the Netherlands or have lived in the Netherlands for years.
Advantages of a language coach
- It is usually free. Sometimes you have to pay a small amount to register.
- You then get the chance to practise frequently, especially with speaking.
- You work alone with the language coach or in small groups and thus receive a lot of personal attention.
- You not only learn about the Dutch language, you also get the opportunity to learn more about Dutch society and culture, because you have conversations about all kinds of subjects with a Dutch person.
Disadvantages of language coaching
- It is an informal way of learning Dutch, and there is no fixed structure or plan.
- The emphasis is on speaking skills and listening skills. You have to work on your writing skills and reading skills independently.
Learning Dutch for free
Do you not have much to spend? Do not worry, it is still possible to learn Dutch. Some free ways to work on your Dutch are:
- Meeting with a language coach (see above).
- The NL-plein (Dutch Plaza) or Taalplein (Language Plaza) in the Public Library (Openbare Bibliotheek) in your area. Many libraries have a separate space with study books and online study materials where you can work on your Dutch. Libraries sometimes offer tours, where they explain the available tools.
- A free language app on your phone. There are several apps on the market with which you can learn Dutch words and phrases for free, including Duolingo.
- The free learning program from Station Nederlands with exercises on different topics. You can improve your reading skills and listening skills with it.
Have you gotten a bit dizzy from the many options for learning the Dutch language? On the ‘Tips and Tricks to learn Dutch faster’ page, we will discuss this further. There you can find all kinds of useful advice that will make it even more fun and easier.