Dutch language

How to Learn Dutch: For Beginners

Over the last year and half I’ve received quite a few emails asking me about how I learnt Dutch. Note: I am still learning!!

But anyway, I thought I’d share how I am learning Dutch with you guys. I hope it’s helpful for any of you who are being challenged with this difficult language. I feel you!

1. Michel Thomas CDs

My first port of call was Michel Thomas because my Mum and Dad were learning French at the time via the Michel Thomas method and had highly recommended it. (As do I!)

Learning Dutch materials

Both the Foundation and Advanced course are very good, however they will not suffice (alone) in teaching you Dutch! But they’re great for beginners to get a feel for the language and the pronunciation etc.

Oh and because I’m a food nerd, my sister-in-law cleverly bought me “Your 1000 Most Important Words: Food and Drink”.

2. Dutch textbooks

Secondly, I got my hands on EVERTHING Dutch I could. Dutch textbooks, grammar books, children’s books. I mostly ordered these from Amazon UK as I was still living in England at the time. As I was buying so much, I got the majority of them second-hand.

Learning Dutch materials

For me: the “201 Dutch verbs” is an absolute must! I use it loads. Hugo “Dutch in 3 months” is also a pretty good textbook, except that I’m not even halfway through it. If you are more dedicated than me, it’s a good ‘un!

3. Children’s books

Most of these were lent to me by my schoonmoeder (mother-in-law). I also bought a few myself at Bruna (a chain in the Netherlands – a bit like WH Smith).

I use the really simple ones for pronunciation – I read to the Dutchie and he corrects any errors. Then I read the slightly higher level ones with a dictionary next to me! (The same as I do with magazines.)

Dutch learning materials

4. Online courses

The two I’ve tried are Duolingo and Babbel. I recommend both of them. Duolingo is free – but it does have a few annoying quirks. I see people complaining all the time on the FB group… things which they think are right but Duolingo says are wrong and about the speaking/microphone settings. I found that speaking slowly and loudly helps with that! (Typical English person, eh?) But really, you have to otherwise the programme marks your answers as wrong. I’m pretty sure they have an app too, but I haven’t used that.

Babbel is more visual/text based. You pay 20 euros for 3 months and you can use it as often as you like. They also have a phone/ipad app which I found useful on the go.

5. Dutch courses

I did an intermediate course at my local college as soon as I arrived in Holland. This is obviously one of the best ways to learn – as you’re thrown in at the deep end! Unfortunately… our teacher was rubbish. Sad face.

It did mean that I had to speak Dutch in class for an hour and a half each week though… and do homework every week. So that was great for continuity… (even though every single bloody week I did my homework in a rush – half an hour before class – whilst eating dinner. Some things never change!!)

Dutch learning materials

At my local college they used the “Delftse methode” which is a pretty good course, though the books are VERY old fashioned, despite being published in 2007…

6. Dutch TV

As I’ve already mentioned before, there’s not a lot to write home about with Dutch TV. But pick a subject you’re interested in and hopefully you can find something tolerable. For me that’s MasterChef Holland. (UK Masterchef is the still the best, Australia second and Holland third. The rest suck.)

I used to watch Pim & Pom, a children’s programme about two cats. There are tons of kids programmes available on cable (we have Ziggo) but I couldn’t stand most of them as the voices are too annoying. However, if you can – watching kids programmes is a really good way to learn basic words, sentence structure and pronunciation.

7. Subtitles

I have Dutch subtitles permanently on, no matter what I’m watching. So even if I’m watching an English/American series, I’m still learning. This is easy for people who already live in Holland, but if you don’t – check all your DVDs, you might be surprised how many have Dutch subtitles.

8. Films

Kinda the same deal as with TV, but there are a few gems: Gooische Vrouwen (also a TV series), Dunya & Desie (totally a teener film, but hey, I like Clueless!), Jackie, Alles Is Liefde, Alles is Familie.

9. Radio

Even if it’s on in the background, you’re still exposing yourself to the language. My favourite stations are 3FM, Sky Radio and Radio 538. And at Christmas time… NPO Radio 2! (Because of the Top 2000.)

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10. Practice with Dutch people! 

This seems so obvious, but of the whole list… this is the hardest one to pull off!

Here’s the thing with learning Dutch: you speak Dutch, they hear an accent, they switch to English.

There’s only one way to rectify this. You have to be more stubborn than a Dutch person… and believe me, they’re pretty stubborn.

The whole switching to English thing doesn’t happen to me that much anymore (thankfully!!) but occasionally, it rears its ugly head. When this happens you have three options:

  1. Politely tell them (in Dutch) you’d like to continue in Dutch as you need to practice.
  2. Carry on in Dutch and hope they get the message.
  3. Only for the very brave: If they’re winning the stubborn contest and you’re getting frustrated… act like you don’t understand them when they speak in English. “Sorry, wat zeg je?” or “Wat zei je?” whilst looking surprised is rather effective. It forces them to pause and rethink what they are doing and speak back to you in the language you are using. (The Dutchie finds this particularly annoying, but it gets the point across and forces him to make the switch.)

I do find stubbornness wins out… most of the time anyway!

Anything else you’d like to add to this list?

Hayley x

 

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(Dutch-related) Stuff That Happened In March 2015

Bit of a quiet month blog-wise as March has been a reeeeeally busy month at work (yep – I have a real job and everything!) Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like it’ll let up anytime soon, so you’ll probably only be hearing from me about once a week for the next few months. Just so you know and that. I haven’t been kidnapped.

Tomorrow we’re off to Brussels (for one night) en route to France to see my parents for a few days. (Yep, the ‘rents are expats too – they moved to France a couple of weeks after I moved to Holland!)

So before we go off gallivanting… here’s some stuff that happened this month.

 1. Rediscovering Etsy 

I’m very happy to have discovered some extremely talented Dutch illustrators in the past month… Introducing Kim Bell Illustrations. Love her work!!

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After living here for nearly a year… the office/blogging den/spare room is finally finished! (Crikey, we are terrible DIYers!!)

I was looking for some funky postcards to frame and brighten up my office –  so there’s the obvious, Paperchase, but their delivery rates to the Netherlands are ridiculous (£5 for a postcard… huh??) so I decided to look elsewhere.

Bravo, Etsy! Bravo!

These fine specimens are from a seller named Darveelicious:

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I also bought postcards from Moa Gift Ideas, Steak & Eggs Please and Le Lapin Blanc. I specifically opted for Dutch illustrators / Etsy shops (with the exception of Steak & Eggs Please) because they ship to the Netherlands (obviously) but also because they are friggin’ awesome. Why look further afield when there is so much talent right here in the Netherlands? Can you tell I’m a BIT excited about this!?!?

And the final result…

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I should probably also show you the other side of the room, aka the Blogging Den, but hmmmm my desk is a bit of a mess now… and can I be arsed to tidy it for photos? No.

2. Clog slippers

Possibly the best slippers ever? The Dutchie has been without slippers for about six years, but whilst in tourist paradise at Zaanse Schans, he was sucked in by the clog slippers.

Nothing to do with me, honest!

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3. Visiting Haarlem, Zaanse Schans & Gouda

Pretty impressed I made it to three new places in March. In case you missed those posts, there was A Quickie in Haarlem and Tourist Paradise – Zaanse Schans.

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I didn’t write a post about Gouda because, well, there were no rose-tinted spectacles involved!! ‘Twas a dreary and cold day and the photos I took on my iphone just didn’t do it any justice. My American friend and I did however discover a fantastic cafe thanks to Sophie in Clogs (big thanks again, Sophie!) This is an especially good tip for mamas who are visiting Gouda… we went with a one year old and the place was totally kid-friendly. It’s unofficially split into two parts, the right-wing for kiddie winks (with loads of toys and high chairs etc) and the left-hand side for grown ups who’d like to enjoy their coffee in adult company.

Zoet & Zalig (yup, that’s my full review on Trip Advisor) is most definitely off the beaten track and if you didn’t know it was there, you’d be forgiven for walking straight past it. Here’s the entrance:

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But once inside – it’s a complete hidden gem!

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Fantastic food, beautiful interior details and a great atmosphere. It’s set in a former orphanage but they have completely transformed it – including the outside. When the weather’s nice, there’s a gorgeous courtyard with funky tables and chairs. Ohhhh and THE CAKE. I’m not at all a cake person, but their selection of cakes and tarts was too hard to resist. The coconut and pineapple taartje was stunning. If you visit Gouda, go here for coffee and cake, minimum!

4. Masterchef Holland

A new series of Masterchef Holland has started! YAY! Pretty much one of the only Dutch TV programmes I can watch! I love you guys, but you really don’t have the best TV… Thank funk for Netflix! So yeah, one of the contestants is an undertaker… or so I thought when I translated ondernemer  literally. It actually means entrepreneur! Oops!

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I have also been watching a few Dutch films: Gooische Vrouwen (yes, I know, I’m totally behind the times!!) Dunya & Desie (totally a teener film, but hey, I like Clueless!) and Jackie, which I watched last night. If anyone has any other Dutch film / series recommendations for me – preferably on Netflix – I’d love to hear them please! Trying to watch as many Dutch programmes as possible. It all helps, right? It’s still such a strange concept to me that I can actually watch films in another language. Fuck! (Sorry Mum!)

5. D’ Vijf Broers, Zaandijk

Gah! More food! Yup, pretty much sums the month up: working & eating!

You know when you go to a restaurant and fall in love? I really did with this place. D’ Vijf Broers in Zaandijk is truly unmissable if you’re visiting Zaandijk / Zaandam. Full review here.

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6. Port tasting

Oh, and we did a cheeky bit of drinking too!

Our friend works at a Gall & Gall store and we went to a port tasting evening (in Dutch might I add!) at the beginning of the month.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and although I didn’t understand absolutely everything – as there were so many technical words – it was fun and something I wouldn’t have been able to do a few months back.

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It’s not a wine tasting until you’ve spilled wine, right?

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7. Bagels & Beans

And while we’re on a food and drink theme… I have to mention Bagels & Beans which we have visited twice in the past week!! If you follow me on Instagram you will have probably already noticed my new obsession!

If there’s a Bagels & Beans in your neighbourhood and haven’t visited yet, I encourage you to do so now!

Koffie – check.

Goedkoop – check.

Lekker – check.

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There is a distinct lack of bitterballen in this post!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??

Have a great weekend everyone!

Hayley x

10 Rude Sounding Dutch Words

These 10 words may induce giggling and guffawing for English speakers, but in fact, they have completely different (and very innocent) meanings in Dutch.

It’s not you, it’s us… 😉

1. Kok

Simply meaning ‘cook’ or ‘chef’. This is quite a popular surname in The Netherlands, much like the English surname ‘Cook’.

On a recent thread, Dubble Dutch commented: “And what do you think about the name of our former minister-president Wim Kok. I think he had to explain his last name every time he introduced himself abroad.”

2. Dik 

Dik means ‘fat’ (or thick/heavy/dense etc). Some people are even (un)lucky enough to be called Dik Kok! (Or the spelling variation Dick Kok.) *Childish snigger*…

3. Fok / Fokken

Sooooo many Dutch people have told me this story – in various permutations – it’s almost a Dutch urban legend! If you live in Holland and haven’t heard it yet, where have you been hiding? It goes a little something like this…

John F. Kennedy met Joseph Luns, the former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs. Kennedy asked for his hobbies and he answered: “I fok horses”. Kennedy, struck with surprise responded: “Pardon?”, Luns replied: “Yes, paarden!”.

Fokken means ‘to breed’, and paarden means ‘horses’ in Dutch.

Horses

4. Shag

If a Dutch person offers you a shag, don’t get your hopes up… they’re just offering you a rollie! (English slang for a cigarette you roll yourself.) Shag means ‘tobacco’. 🙂

5. Kunt / Kant

Sounds like something very familiar (and VERY rude) in English … right?

Je kunt  (You can)

Kunt u?  (Can you? formal)

Ledikant (meaning ‘crib’)

and my personal favourite Kies mijn kant!! (Choose my side).

6. Slagroom

A room full of slags? Wonderful! Except that it simply means ‘whipped cream’ in Dutch.

7. Hoegaarden

Amusing in a slightly different way. The Dutch have a very Dutch way of saying hoegaarden – if an English person tries to pronounce it, they’ll most likely say ‘ho-garden’. (Ho being slang for prostitute…)

A garden full of hoes and a room full of slags!? What more could you want!

8. Willy

My schoonmoeder’s name appeals to the juvenile side of my sense of humour. Willy is often used as a short name for Wilhelmina in the Netherlands.

9. Prik

Prikbord rather innocently means ‘pin board’ in Dutch. And if you ask for a drink zonder prik you mean ‘without bubbles’.

10. Hoor

Yes, I’ve mentioned this before on the blog… but this list wouldn’t be complete without it!!

If you spend any amount of time in Holland, you can expect people to call you a whore (to your face): “Ja, hoor!” “Nee, hoor!” “Momentje, hoor!”

But it’s not rude at all… it literally means ‘hear’ but when paired with Ja (yes) it means something like “Yeah, sure!” to emphasize agreement.

With Nee (no) it can mean a number of things depending on the context… some examples are: “No way” “No, that’s not right” or “No, thanks”.

It can be also used to make things sound more friendly, so “Momentje, hoor!” is expressing politeness like “Wait a moment, please.”

Which other rude sounding Dutch words make you giggle like a school child?

Hayley x

Ps – Are you following me on social media yet? I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest! Come on over and say hi!

Reverse Expat Bucket List

Inspired by Amanda’s (of Expat Life with a Double Buggy) amazing list of things she has done whilst living for 14 years as an expat in the Netherlands. Here is my list after 3.5 weeks…

Any excuse for bitterballen...

Any excuse for a bitterballen photo…

1. Load all my worldly belongings into a van (thanks Dad) and move to the Netherlands.

2. Get Paris the cat a Pet Passport and move her to NL too.

3. Plan (most of) a Dutch wedding… August 2014!!

4. Speak on the telephone in Dutch… eek.

5. Speak to strangers in Dutch (and have them speak Dutch back to me.)

6. Visit Amsterdam, twice.

7. Navigate way round Amsterdam, without help! Assist two Danish guys to find their hotel.

8. Visit Utrecht.

9. Visit Spa in Belgium.

10. Navigate way to Hilversum Gementeehuis on foot and only get lost once.

11. Learn that Dutch (rented) houses do not come with light fittings. Successfully purchase and fit light fittings.

12. Cook a Dutch meal. (Zuurkool.)

13. Attend a Dutch verjaardagsfeest (birthday party)… which started at 2pm and ended at 6pm on the dot.

14. Celebrate the first ever King’s Day.

15. Wear head-to-toe orange.

16. Successfully avoid speculoos and hagelslag.

17. Join a Dutch gym.

18. Ask for (in Dutch) and successfully receive an Albert Heijn Bonuskaart.

19. Eat more bitterballen than is strictly necessary.

20. Receive a Dutch Bathroom Calendar as a present and be genuinely excited.

21. Have a bike stolen before I’d even purchased it.

22. Speak to sister’s potential “suitor” in Dutch, during her visit, and piss her off incredibly 🙂 🙂

23. Realise and accept that colleges are closed over the summer so Dutch courses cannot be started until September 😦

24. Sign up to an online course in the meantime.

25. Find suitable local kroeg.

26. Finally get an iphone!!!!

27. Start an instagram account.

28. Start a twitter account.

29. Discover lots of cool street art in the Netherlands.

30. Rearrange alphabetical spice rack due to new Dutch spices: cumin being komijn and coriander koriander.

31. Be unable to accept that list ends at 30 when my age is 31.

32. Oh shit, I’m 32. 

Hayley x

Welkom op Bitterballen Bruid

Welcome to Bitterballen Bruid!

Bruid = bride. Bitterballen = a delicious Dutch snack. They’re pretty hard to describe seeing as a Dutch person will tell you they’re filled with “ragout” – however ragout to us English folk is a French stew. (Either that, or you’ll think of the pasta sauce jars: Ragù!) The outside of bitterballen is breadcrumbs, think something like a potato croquet… but the inside is where the magic happens! It’s like a thick, creamy meat paste… sounds disgusting, tastes heavenly! They’re little round balls of deep-fried deliciousness, served with mustard. Normally I avoid anything deep-fried at all costs, but these are an exception. Don’t think about the calories or what’s inside them, just sit in the kroeg (pub) with a glass of Amstel, or if you’re a hater like me, een glaasje wijn (glass of wine) and enjoy!

Bitterballen

© Takeaway / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for ages, but just never got around to it. Excuses, excuses! But whilst on holiday in Thailand (lucky me!) the name Bitterballen Bruid just came to me. I talked to The Dutchie (aka my husband) about it and he liked it too, so here I am! The blog will mainly focus on being an English girl woman getting married in The Netherlands, learning the Dutch language and moving there… but having just returned from an epic 3 week trip to Bali and Thailand, I might have to squeeze some travel pics and stories in too!

First post, over and out 😉

Hayley x