Alle beetjes helpen – Nederlandstalige spreekwoorden
Every little helps – Dutch proverb
If you’ve been looking to get your feet wet in the Dutch language, the Introduction to Dutch course on FutureLearn might help. The beginners’ course by the University of Groningen goes fast in three weeks total and covers the basics such as greetings, talking about life, and work. There are short writing exercises throughout the course which helps with vocabulary. Although you can go at your own pace, the course is only available two weeks after the end course date. Afterward, you will need to pay to access the course, which will also grant the learner a certification of completion and access to the course for as long as the course is on FutureLearn. It is currently $74 which is a bit on the steep side, in my opinion, considering the entire six-week Italian course I am now taking is $44 and covers a lot more.
Nonetheless, I found the dialogues useful and better than the usual memory recall programs I’ve used like Mango Languages. I did have to go through them several times because Dutch is a bit guttural and you have to listen to the nuances of the language. It is suggested that the learner allocate 3 hours a week for study time. I found myself pushing more towards 10 and using other study aids such as the flashcards provided by the course through Quizlet, DutchPod101 YouTube channel, and various books.
What to expect:
- class discussions to go over materials
- quizzes after every other module
- professors who will answer questions in discussion boards
- to learn basic Dutch (i.e., greetings, numbers, family, food, weather) with a focus on grammar
- access to downloadable materials; lesson PDFs, videos, and audio
What not to expect:
- to become fluent past A1 (basic user; ability to converse in basic Dutch with help from the listener)
Week 1: Introducing Yourself in Dutch
In the first week, you will learn basic greetings, pronouns (personal and possessive), numbers, and the alphabet. The 33 modules range from 1 to 5 minutes each. I spent most of my time on the alphabet and numbers. Numbers start to get a bit hairy, and I was having flashbacks from having to learn them in French. In the discussions, I felt like I kept repeating myself. I’m not sure how many times someone should have to introduce themselves. On quizzes, I was able to go back and correct my answers. That is the quizzes are there to test your knowledge but do not count towards your final “grade.” I was able to finish the first week on time.
You can see and download the entire Week 1 Lesson Plan here.
Week 2: Talking about family, work, and study in Dutch
On the second week, I made it a third of the way through, and then the frustration started to set in. I noticed my ‘classmates’ feeling just as frustrated. In the discussion boards questions were being left unanswered and many dipped out. The lesson plan didn’t feel stacked (like piggybacking from the previous lesson) and instead was all over the map. For example, the 5th lesson for Week 2 is “Greeting someone: Saying hello and goodbye in Dutch.” What the frinkandel?! Week 2 took me about a week and a half to complete.
You can see and download the entire Week 2 Lesson Plan here.
Week 3: Living in the Netherlands
This was a HEAVY grammar week. I wanted to tear my hair out, no joke! I stopped posting updates on my Facebook page. Still, I found it easier to decipher phrases and my pronunciation did get better. Although I was stressed out, I was excited to learn about life in the Netherlands. I’d let my mind wander, I even looked up huizen te koop. I corrected my husband when he mispronounced Vanpool. Yes, the transportation company. Anyway, the quizzes gave me clearer explanations which helped me with my research. The site DutchGrammar.com was a lifesaver! It took me almost two weeks to get through this lesson plan.
You can see and download the entire Week 3 Lesson Plan here.
Final Thoughts About This Dutch Course
I did like the course. I wasn’t expecting to learn as much as I did, To be honest, it could have been the extra resources I used that gave me A1-A2 fluency. Still, I was hoping for more and as of now, there isn’t a follow-up class. I would utilize this class as more of a blueprint of what to learn, but not solely depend on it to learn enough Dutch to get you through situations that would naturally come up while traveling. Asking for directions and learning how to order food or ask for a room or a cab would have been a nice touch. However, it was grammar heavy, which I didn’t mind. The explanations were clear and concise. I loved interacting with other language learners and the quizzes involved writing. It was designed to get you thinking in Dutch and not just memorizing vocabulary and phrases. For a free course, this is pretty solid. Dutch wasn’t so scary after all. I am not sold on the certification just yet. If I do decide to pay the $74 fee, I will follow up with an update.