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5 top tips on how to improve your Dutch language skills

If you’ve been living in the Netherlands for quite some time and are considering making this vibrant country your permanent home, you’ll no doubt want to integrate more fully into the Dutch way of life. In addition to sampling typical Dutch meals and taking part in popular Dutch celebrations such as Sinterklaas, one of the easiest ways to settle into your new home and make plenty of Dutch friends, is by mastering the notoriously difficult Dutch language.

There are a number of beginners courses that provide a good grounding in ‘Nederlands als tweede taal’ (Dutch as a second language), from intensive residential courses at Vught to part times courses at local Universities. For those of you who are already at an intermediate stage and are ready to take your Dutch to the next level, here are 5 top tips to help you on your way.

1. Read Dutch newspapers and magazines

In addition to the traditional paper version, most Dutch newspapers boast an online presence, where you can log on and read the day’s main news at your leisure. It’s probably best not to start with a heavyweight newspaper such as the Volkskrant, as the language can be a little bit tricky, even for intermediates. Try lighter newspapers such as the Spits or pick up some Dutch magazines, which cater for a variety of hobbies and interests from sports to fashion and science to politics. Alternatively you can visit our sister site, heimwee.info, for Dutch news articles written in a style that is more accessible for non-native speakers.

2. Watch Dutch television or listen to Dutch radio

If you want to get a handle on colloquial Dutch and a obtain a genuine feeling for the pronunciation of this complex language, then it’s a good idea to watch Dutch TV or listen to Dutch radio as often as possible. If you’re struggling with the content of regular TV programmes, you can begin with programmes intended for Dutch children or those geared specifically towards adolescents such as ‘Het Klokhuis’ or ‘Jeugdjournaal’.

3. Read Dutch books

You’re bound to find a range of Dutch novels that both match your current level of proficiency and enable you to widen your vocabulary at the same time. You can also experiment by reading books by Dutch children’s authors such as Annie M.G. Schmidt, who writes for children aged between 5 and 10 years old. Many Dutch adults enjoy her books too, making them an ideal choice for those who wish to hone their Dutch language skills, but are not yet confident enough to tackle literary gems.

4. Have a go at Dutch crosswords

Crosswords and other word puzzles such as word searches are not only fun to do, they’re also a great way of building an extensive Dutch vocabulary. You can buy a variety of puzzle books from most newsagents in the Netherlands or you can attempt the crossword in your favourite Dutch newspaper. Just make sure that you always have a good Dutch dictionary to hand!

5. Join an international expat club

The great thing about joining an ‘international’ expat club, is that your fellow members will come from all corners of the globe. This means that you’ll be forced to converse, no matter how falteringly, in your only common language – Dutch! International expat clubs also organise frequent events and outings that allow to you to experience the Dutch way of life and practise your improved language skills, making them a great way of expanding your social circle too.

Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Why not visit to our sister blog, heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad.

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