Dutch Language Blog

Nederlands Leren on a Budget Posted by on Feb 23, 2014 in Dutch Language

I got an email today from a brand-spanking new expat in Gelderland. She’s been in the Netherlands about two months. She’s a bit isolated, no job prospects as of yet, few people to pal around with, and zilch in the way of funds to put towards her Dutch language education.

She wanted to know what she could do to learn the language without spending a small fortune.

Thanks to the internet, learning a language is a cinch. As long as you know where to look and what programs and sites are worth your time.

If, like my expat inquirer, you’re interested in learning Nederlands on a budget, here are some places you can start:

Social Media:

Social media is more than just another tool for proscrastinators. As we’ve talked about before on the blog, there are opportunities on Facebook and Twitter to brush up on your Dutch.

A search for “learn Dutch” on Pinterest turns up thousands of results. Use the same trick on Google+ and you’ll find even more options.


The best way to learn a language is to hear it. With that in mind, a number of Dutch speakers looking to help us Dutch learners out have created YouTube channels to teach us what they know.

Our favorites are:


There are a LOT of Dutch language websites out there offering some excellent gratis (free) education. Here’s our round-up of the best on the web:

  • 2BDutch – learn Dutch with subtitled videos
  • Dutch Grammar – the ultimate resource for understanding crazy Dutch grammar
  • Taalhuis – a free online Dutch course
  • LearnDutch – a great resource for anyone looking to learn Dutch from afar
  • Dutch Word of the Day – a new word each day, a new phrase each week
  • Laura Speaks Dutch – a podcast created to teach listeners Dutch
  • Speak Dutch – a free online Dutch grammar course taught in 12 lessons
  • and this rockin’ blog you’re reading right now (duh!)

Televisie Kijken:

I learned a lot of Dutch by watching the tube. My go-tos were NIJNTJE, WOEZEL EN PIP, and BARBAPAPA, but any Dutch television will do.

Don’t live in the Netherlands? The shows I mentioned above I actually purchased on DVD. See what you can find on Amazon. But you may run into some trouble if you don’t have a machine that can play region 2 DVDs. You can also check out SchoolTV or BVNtv for free streaming outside of the NL.

And don’t forget the power of subtitles. The Dutch don’t dub, so when you watch FRIENDS, for instance, it’s really Jennifer Aniston and the gang you’re hearing. The Dutch appears on the bottom of the screen in the form of subtitles. It’s the same deal if you head to the nearby Pathe to catch a showing of THE MONUMENTS MEN.

Use those subtitles to your advantage. As you’re hearing the exchange on the screen, follow along with the subtitles to get a feel for what your favorite characters would be saying if the Dutch were into dubbing.


I had a lot of success learning Dutch with music. As a member of an all-Dutch vocal group, I found myself warbling tunes by Blof, Marco Borsato, Brigitte Kraandorp, Spinvis, and Acda en de Munnik. Can’t tell you how many times I used song lyrics to double check my grammar before turning in a test. Plus it’s a fun and painless way to learn a new language. One we all used as kids learning our mother tongues (Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star anyone?).

The Buddy System:

Find someone to practice with. My husband and I had designated Dutch days – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – when we’d only speak Dutch to one another. We started back when my vocabulary limited me to the present tense and continued up through the day our daughter was born (now he speaks only Dutch at home and I only speak English so our daughter can have the benefit of both languages).

You’ll find plenty of Dutchies willing to set up Skype dates or be your pen pal. And if you listen closely, you’ll find that you hear Dutch being spoken in the most unlikely of places (the Dutch are everywhere)! You’ll find that practical application goes a long way.

What other ways can you think of to learn Dutch for free?

Photo credit: TaxCredits.net

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About the Author: tiffany

Tiffany Jansen is an American magazine and copywriter in the Netherlands.


  1. Ryan:

    If you live in the Amsterdam area you can use “Taalcoachwijzer” to find someone who lives in your neighborhood who is willing to meet with you regularly just to speak and practice Dutch. I know these programs are available in other parts of the Netherlands as well but I don’t have the websites for them.

    To find a speaking partner – http://service.scep.nl/taalcoachwijzer/pags/vi_waar/

    To find out more about the program – http://service.scep.nl/taalcoachwijzer/pags/index.html

    • tiffany:

      @Ryan These are great! Thanks Ryan!