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One of the biggest obstacles when learning Dutch is pronunciation. In my time in the Netherlands, I’ve found that I can get away with grammar errors, spelling errors, and mixing up all kinds of things, as long as I properly pronounce the words. The trouble with Dutch is that it contains sounds that are often incredibly difficult for native English speakers to wrap their heads around.
I also have a personal theory that English speakers are more accustomed to hearing their language spoken with a variety of accents, whereas the Dutch are far less accustomed to this because they are so adept at speaking English with foreigners. But that’s a different story. If you really want to be understood in Dutch, you have to try very hard to speak like a Dutch person.
A great way to start wrapping your head around the sounds is Luister, Luister, Luister! (Listen, Listen, Listen!) Listen closely to the pronunciation of Dutch words, and repeat. And repeat it again. And repeat it again. And once you think you’ve got it sounding just right, repeat it once again for good measure.
Now, not all of us have the luxury of hearing Dutch spoken every day around us, and even if you are one of those people, the best resource for Dutch pronunciation will always be Dutch people. I personally don’t like to walk around the streets muttering words over and over to myself, so from the privacy of your own home, have a look at the Jeugd Journaal.
Link to the Jeugd Journaal (opens in a separate window)
The Jeugd Journaal is a broadcast of the daily news tailored towards a slightly younger audience. It’s a bit easier to understand than the regular evening news, and often times more fun. At least I think it’s more fun. So have a listen online to the Jeugd Journaal, see how much of it you understand, and try to repeat some of what you hear.