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Back to the dossier Starting to learn Dutch: set your goal

Starting to learn Dutch: set your goal

You are going to learn Dutch! That is great, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. Because where do you start?

As with every goal we set for ourselves, it is handy to make a plan before we begin. This makes it not only easier, but also more fun to learn a new language. You namely ensure that you only study the things you need, in a way that suits you.

We begin at the first step: setting your personal goal. Based on a number of questions, we help you to determine concretely what you want to achieve and within what timeframe.


Why do I want to learn Dutch? Determine a final goal.
There are many reasons why people learn Dutch: to pass the integration exam, because they need Dutch at work, because they want to be able to talk with their children's teachers or because they want to meet Dutch people.


To give focus to your plan to learn Dutch, it is good to ask yourself these questions first:


Why do I want to learn Dutch?

What would I do if I could speak Dutch well?


Have you thought of or written down an answer for yourself? Very good: this is your final goal, this is what you are going to work towards.


An example of a final goal is:


“I want to learn Dutch to find a job in sales in a shop. If I could speak Dutch now, I would apply for a job at De Bijenkorf.”


It does not matter how big or small your final goal is. A goal like “I want to speak Dutch to the doctor” is also good. All that matters is that it is a goal that you would like to achieve. In the next step, you will make your final goal more concrete.

It does not matter how big or small your final goal is.

What steps should I take to achieve my final goal?
The start has been made. Now, we will make your goal more concrete by dividing it into smaller steps. There is no need to identify all the intermediate steps needed to achieve your goal; then the list would be very long. Just identify the most important things you need to learn to achieve your final goal.


Example of intermediate steps for the final goal “I want to learn Dutch to find a job in sales in a shop”:


  • Earn the Diploma State Examination NT2 (Staatsexamen NT2) Programma I to show that my Dutch is at B1 level.
  • Learn how to greet customers politely and how to ask how I can help them.
  • Learn which sentences I can use to handle with difficult customers in a friendly way. 
  • Expand vocabulary for everything that has to do with clothing and accessories.


Have you noted a few intermediate steps? Then we will make it real now by setting deadlines.


When do I want to finish? Set a deadline.
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with deadlines. On the one hand, they are compulsive and rigid; on the other hand, we usually need them to finish something we have started. When we set ourselves a goal, it is a good idea to determine a deadline. This ensures that we can prioritize, that we stay in motion and that we are more effective.


Once you have set your goal and identified your intermediate steps, think about a deadline. When will you or should you have reached your final goal? Are you going to take an exam at a fixed time? Or are you starting a new educational programme at a certain time? Or do you want to achieve your goal within six months?


If your deadline lies a bit further in the future, it probably does not have much impact on your motivation right now. The final step is therefore to think of short-term goals.


Make a note of short-term goals
It is useful to make note of short-term goals for each intermediate step you have devised as part of your final goal. These are actions that can be carried out in a period of one week to three months, which are specifically and clearly worded. For example:


Intermediate step: Expand vocabulary with everything that has to do with clothing and accessories.
Short-term goal: Every week, memorize 20 words that have to do with women's clothes.


Intermediate step: Earn Diploma State Examination NT2 Programme I.
Short-term goal: Within three months, complete an exam training for State Examination NT2 Programme I.


Intermediate step: Improve Dutch pronunciation.
Short-term goal: Subscribe to Uitspraaktrainer online and practice 10 minutes every day after dinner for the next four weeks.


Check your goals regularly and change them if necessary.
Have you succeeded in writing an final goal, intermediate steps, a deadline and short-term goals for yourself? That is great: now there is a plan! One last tip: do not forget to check your goals regularly and adjust them if your situation has changed. Nothing is 'in beton gegoten' (Dutch for 'cast in concrete'), as we say in Dutch, so it is fine to change things about your plan along the way.

Do not forget to check your goals regularly and adjust them if your situation has changed.
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You have already accomplished quite a bit: now your goals are on paper. Time for the next step! The next step is all about you. You are going to look at your personal situation and how you learn the best. That is the great thing about learning a new language: there are so many different ways to do it that there is always a way that suits you.

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