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Can You Learn Dutch Fast? Here’s How Long it Will Take.


How long does it take to learn Dutch? 

This is one of the most frequently asked questions from aspiring Dutch learners, but it has no definite answer. It depends on many things, such as your native language, educational background, experience with languages, exposure, and motivation. It also depends on what “learning Dutch” means to you: Are you hoping to achieve a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level? These are all different goals with different timeframes. But whatever level you wish to achieve, there are some great tools you can use to learn Dutch faster.

In this article, you’ll learn how to realistically estimate how long it will take to learn Dutch, depending on your background and the proficiency level you have in mind. Then, we’ll give you some useful strategies you can employ to really master this language.

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How long does it take to learn Dutch?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. The Many Factors Involved
  2. From Beginner to Advanced
  3. Dutch Learning Strategies to Help You Learn Faster
  4. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Dutch Faster

1. The Many Factors Involved

There are a few factors involved in determining how long it takes to learn the Dutch language. Because these things will impact your learning progress, you should take them into consideration as you plan your course of study. 

Your Native Language vs. Dutch

Knowing a language with similar roots as Dutch will make it easier and quicker for you to learn this language. If you’re reading this article, it means your English level is already really strong, and this is great news for your Dutch learning! 

Dutch is very similar to English and German, as these three languages are all part of the Indo-European family of languages and belong to the Germanic branch. This makes it much easier for English- and German-speakers to pick up the language, compared to speakers of other languages. (And lucky for you, Dutch won’t make you put up with difficult grammar like that found in German!)

So if you speak one of these languages, even if it’s not your native language, it will give you a headstart in your Dutch learning process. 

Your Language Learning Experience 

Have you ever learned another language before? If you already speak a foreign language, this knowledge and experience will help you a lot when learning a third language. 

Your brain is accustomed to the challenges of language learning and you already know how to study a language. You’re familiar with the best ways to memorize vocabulary, practice your conversation skills, and understand those tricky tenses. Languages have a certain logic to them, and the more languages you learn, the more you start to understand how their grammar and structure work in general. 

For these reasons, bilinguals often find it easier to learn a third language. If this is the case for you, you’ll probably save yourself quite a lot of time when learning Dutch.

Your Motivation

Why do you want to learn Dutch? 

Do you just want to learn another language? Are you going to work in the Netherlands? Are you planning to study in this country? Or are you dating a nice Dutchie?

Whatever your reason may be, this motivation will impact your level of commitment and the amount of time you’re willing to invest in learning Dutch. Your motivation will also help you continue your studies and convince you not to stop, even when things get difficult. If you have a strong motivation, you’ll have a strong will to work hard and learn fast.

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Have you already found your motivation to learn Dutch?

Your Approach

Your learning method plays a key role in how fast you’ll make progress. For a good learning method, it’s often advisable to combine different learning techniques, such as taking online Dutch lessons, finding a language exchange partner to help you practice your conversation skills, and listening to Dutch music or movies to train your listening skills. And of course, how successful your learning method is also depends on how much time you’re willing to invest in your studies.

Don’t worry about this yet, though. We’ll discuss some useful Dutch learning strategies in a few moments!

2. From Beginner to Advanced

Now, for the main topic at hand: How long does it take to learn Dutch as an English speaker?

According to FSI (Foreign Service Institute), an American government institution in charge of foreign language teaching to American diplomats and officials, it takes English speakers around 24 weeks of intensive classroom study to reach a general professional proficiency in Dutch. 

However, be aware that this is based on the FSI approach. This is a very intensive study routine where students are taught in small classes of around 6 students, spend 6 hours daily with a teacher, and do 2 hours of self-study each day. In other words, it takes around 600 classroom hours for a student to be able to work professionally with the language.

Let’s see what this means for the different Dutch proficiency levels. 

We’ll use the CEFR system (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). This classification shows one’s proficiency level in a foreign language on a six-point scale, from A1 for beginners to C2 for those who have mastered a language. In this article, we’ll focus only on the A1 / B1 / C1 levels (not the second level for each), as these are a good reflection of what it takes to achieve the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. 

    → Speaking of which, if you’re interested in doing a Dutch language exam, we have a complete guide to help you successfully pass these tests.

1 – Beginner Level

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Do you want to reach the Dutch beginner level?

Let’s start with the beginner level, A1.

    ★ How long does it take to reach A1? Around 80-100 hours.

At this level, you can:
  • Understand and use everyday expressions as well as simple statements about practical needs.
  • Introduce yourself and others.
  • Ask and answer questions about personal matters.
  • Use the present tense and the right word order in simple affirmative sentences and questions.
  • Have basic conversations if the other person is talking slowly and articulates clearly.

To be able to do this, you need to build a foundation to start understanding how the language works. This means studying things like:

  • Word order
  • Present tense
  • Basic conjugation

Vocabulary is also important, but in this beginning phase, your focus will be on building lots of different sentences using few words. Don’t clutter your brain yet with too much vocabulary. With some basic nouns, verbs, and adjectives, you’ll be able to have basic conversations. 

Try to practice your pronunciation from the beginning, as this will prevent you from making the same mistakes when you’re improving your Dutch in the next stages. Listen to a lot of Dutch music to become familiar with the pronunciation, practice your speaking skills with others, and record yourself so you can listen to your own pronunciation and find things to improve.

At the beginner level, flashcards will come in handy. You can use them to remember words, simple phrases, useful questions, or conjugated verbs—basically anything you want or need. 

    → Also have a look at the DutchPod101 Absolute Beginner lesson pathway. This is the perfect pathway for learning the Dutch basics, containing 25 lessons (about 5.5 hours of material) that cover topics ranging from self-introductions to writing a postcard.

2 – Intermediate Level

B1 is the intermediate level.

    ★ How long does it take to reach B1? Around 350 to 400 hours.

At this level, you can:
  • Understand and communicate in common everyday situations, such as at work or school.
  • Handle most daily interactions when traveling in the Netherlands or through Flanders.
  • Write simple Dutch texts about familiar topics or subjects you’re interested in.
  • Talk about events, experiences, dreams, expectations, and desires. You’re also able to express your opinions, reasons, and plans.

To reach B1, you have to pass through the beginner level (A1) and the lower-intermediate level (A2). So there’s quite some ground to cover! 

As you progress toward this stage, you’ll be learning more about Dutch-language patterns, structures, and vocabulary. This is also the level where you’ll start learning new tenses and new types of words, such as adverbs. You’ll start to understand the pronouns better, which will allow you to make smoother sentences. Using all of this new knowledge, you’ll be able to get into more details when speaking or writing Dutch. 

If you’re not studying Dutch at school or university, this would be a good time to start some lessons with a teacher at a language school. Alternatively, you could try to find some affordable online coaching to make sure you’re on the right track.

    → Have a look at the DutchPod101 Lower Intermediate lessons to break out of the beginner level and pass through to the intermediate level. In only 25 lessons (around 4.5 hours), you’ll notice some improvement.

3 – Advanced Level

So, how long does it take to learn Dutch fluently? C1 is the advanced level.

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Ready to achieve the advanced level?

    ★ How long does it take to reach C1? Around 850 to 900 hours.

At this level, you can:
  • Understand long texts and their implicit meaning, humor, and wit.
  • Speak spontaneously and fluently without searching for your words too much.
  • Use the language flexibly and efficiently at home, work, or school.
  • Express your opinion on complex topics in a clear and structured manner.
  • Write clear, well-structured, and detailed texts about complex subjects.

Now you know how long it takes to learn Dutch fluently. You have to pass through the A1, A2, B1, and B2 levels. It’s double the time and effort of the intermediate level, but it’s worth it!

When you reach this stage, you’ll have expanded your vocabulary greatly, you understand the tenses, and you’re able to write and speak Dutch at a high level. You feel confident as you (almost) fully understand the language and you can discuss the most complex topics in Dutch.

To reach such a level of proficiency, you can, of course, use language classes or online teachers. However, try to really immerse yourself in the language as well. Read Dutch books, watch Dutch TV or movies, listen to music in Dutch, and try to find a native speaker you can talk with on a regular basis. 

This all helps, but at the end of the day, the best way to improve your Dutch to an advanced level is to live in the country or to spend a few months there.

    → Have a look at our official curated pathway for Level 5, the best tool to help you become an advanced Dutch learner. These 50 lessons (around 2 hours) will help you go from fully intermediate to an advanced learner.

3. Dutch Learning Strategies to Help You Learn Faster

As we mentioned before, how long it takes to learn Dutch fluently depends on your exposure to the language, how much time and effort you put into it, and the strategies you use.

With the right strategies, you’ll be able to learn Dutch faster and more effectively! 

1 – Make Use of Online Classes

Wondering how to learn Dutch online? We hear you! 

With online classes, you can learn Dutch anywhere and anytime you want. There are online classes for every level and they’re more affordable than private lessons or language schools. They’re also the most flexible option, as you can adapt them to your schedule. 

There are many websites you can choose from. Some are entirely free, while others have a mixture of free resources and paid resources with advanced services. Try to choose a website where you can track your progress and work over time; this way, you can really be aware of your improvement.

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Be efficient and learn where and when you can.

    → Check out DutchPod101 to see what online lessons we offer. Even without a paid subscription, you can access a lot of free content, including vocabulary lists, a YouTube channel, and countless lessons for students at every level.

2 – Make Learning Dutch Fun

Try to make learning Dutch as enjoyable as possible—learning a new language shouldn’t be boring.

Of course there are some boring parts, such as grammar rules or those endless lists of verb conjugations, but try to mix it up with some entertaining learning tools. For example, you might enjoy watching a Dutch TV show with subtitles, or listening to Dutch music and trying to translate or understand the lyrics. Studying this way will make you more inclined to continue your Dutch studies! 

3 – Practice is Key

To really learn a language, you have to practice it a lot. So try speaking, reading, writing, and listening in Dutch as much as you can. It’s okay to make mistakes, and you don’t even need that many words or an extensive knowledge of complicated grammar rules to express yourself.

Try to put everything you learn into practice, as this is truly the only way to improve your Dutch. Really immerse yourself in the language through TV series, books, music, or even podcasts. Start writing Dutch stories and talk to every Dutch person you meet. You can do it!

4 – Use Word Lists to Build Up a Solid Vocabulary

Are you struggling to practice the language because you feel like you don’t have a solid vocabulary yet? Then use vocabulary word lists to expand your personal word bank. You can choose a topic you find interesting and learn words related to that topic. DutchPod101 has vocabulary lists on many topics, such as love, family, animals, work, and more.

You may even want to set yourself some vocabulary learning goals. For example, to memorize one or two vocabulary lists a week, or one new word a day. 

5 – Create a Study Schedule and Set Some Goals

When learning a new language, structure is key. Language learning is a big task, and there’s so much to learn. Therefore, it’s very important that you create a clear study schedule and set some goals. This will give you the motivation to continue and not give up. With every goal you achieve, you know you’re improving and you’ll be motivated to continue with your other goals. A study schedule gives you the consistency needed to achieve them.

How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Dutch Faster

In this guide, you learned that the time it takes to learn Dutch depends on certain factors, such as the level of proficiency you want to reach and the Dutch learning strategies you employ. We also gave you pointers on how to learn Dutch effectively at each stage. 

Did we forget any important language learning tips? Do you already feel motivated to start learning Dutch? 

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com, as we have plenty of free resources to help you learn Dutch quickly and efficiently. Our vocabulary lists are another great way to improve your knowledge of Dutch words and their pronunciation. 

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching with a private teacher who will help you master the Dutch language even faster. He or she will give you interesting exercises, useful recorded audio samples, and personalized feedback so that you can become fluent in Dutch before you know it.

Happy learning on DutchPod101.com!

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