As a teacher and the principal of a Dutch online school, I am often asked by parents how they can help their children learn Dutch. The Dutch language is essential for daily life in the Netherlands and learning it can be a fun and exciting adventure for children. The more that they are exposed to it, the faster they can master it.
Here are some tips to help your child learn the language:
1. Start with the basicsIntroduce your child to the Dutch alphabet, numbers, as well as simple words and phrases. Teach them to say “hello”, “please”, and “thank you”. These basic words and phrases will help them feel more comfortable communicating with others in Dutch.
If you cannot teach them the basics or are unsure about pronunciation, please use videos of native speakers, such as Bart de Pau which is made for adults.
And use toddler videos learning the alphabet for your children. A significant difference is that the “a” in the child version is pronounced as it sounds. That is how children learn how to read in the Netherlands.
2. Encourage readingReading is an excellent way to help children learn a new language. Encourage your child to read Dutch books, magazines, and websites. Reading can help improve their vocabulary, comprehension, and pronunciation.
In the Netherlands, children get a free subscription to the public library. You can also get an online subscription.
3. Watch Dutch TV shows and moviesThey can help your child improve their listening and comprehension skills.
I would recommend Schooltv and Klokhuis. Schooltv is a video database filled with educational and informative video clips, films, songs, and animations. Their content can also be selected based on specific subjects and ages.
Het Klokhuis is an informative youth program from the NTR that is broadcast every school day at 6.40pm on NPO Zapp (NPO 3). Every day, children between the ages of seven and 12 learn something about the world around them in the broadest sense of the word.
4. Practice with native speakersEncourage your child to practice speaking with native speakers. Besides language lessons, it is useful to engage your children in hobbies and sports groups in Dutch. Joining a local scouting group is also a great way to interact with local children.
5. Make it funLearning a new language should be enjoyable. Try to incorporate learning into your child’s daily routine. For example, you can play games, listen to music, or cook recipes together all in Dutch. SpelletjesPlein is my favourite website for these types of learning games.
You can also play card or board games like Scrabble in Dutch. Further, there are also many online games that your child can play to improve their language skills.
Start your child’s Dutch-learning adventureTo conclude: learning Dutch can be an exciting adventure for your child, and you as a parent, can make it easy and enjoyable with these five tips!