If you’re thinking about learning Dutch, then you might be wondering whether Duolingo’s Dutch course is the course for you.
Dutch is spoken by approximately 30 million people as either their first or second language. It’s the third most widely spoken Germanic language after English and German, and is an official language in Holland, Belgium, Suriname, South Africa, and Namibia (the latter two as Afrikaans)!
But is Duolingo good for learning Dutch?
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Dutch on Duolingo.
We’ll look at:
- How Duolingo’s Dutch course is structured
- Special features
- Other features you need to be aware of
- The pros of Duolingo’s Dutch course
- The cons of Duolingo’s Dutch course
Ready to dive in?
Laten we gaan!
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What you’ll find in Duolingo’s Dutch course
If you’re new to Duolingo, then it’s worth pointing out that all of Duolingo’s courses are structured in pretty much the same way.
They all follow what is commonly referred to as the lesson tree.*
The tree is broken up into a set of units…
Each unit has a set of skills…
Each skill has up to 6 crown levels…
And each crown level has a set of lessons…
The basic goal is to work through the tree by completing every lesson… in every level… in every skill… in every unit.
As of August 2022, Duolingo’s Dutch course has a total of 6 units, broken down into a total of 123 skills. That means there are 615 crown levels in Duolingo’s Dutch course (or 738 if you include the legendary levels).
The exercises in the Dutch course are basically the same as in all the other courses. Some of the common exercises you’ll come across include:
- Complete the translation
- Mark the correct meaning
- Picture flashcards
- Select the missing word
- Sentence shuffle
- Speak this sentence
- Tap the pairs
- Tap what you hear
*Duolingo are switching up their courses to a brand new format known as the Learning Path. It’s only been rolled out to a handful of users so far, so the majority of users will get the traditional lesson tree above. However, if your Dutch course looks different to the above, then you’ve probably got the new lesson path. Check out this post from Duolingo to learn more!
Does Duolingo’s Dutch course have any special features?
Although English speakers can learn nearly 40 different languages on Duolingo, it’s important to point out that not all of the courses are created equally.
As of August 2022, Duolingo’s Dutch course doesn’t currently have stories, audio lessons or podcasts.
However, there is an unofficial way to get Dutch stories…
duolingo dutch stories
Although Duolingo’s Dutch course doesn’t currently have stories, there is an unofficial option available.
Duostories is a community project bringing Duolingo’s official stories to other languages.
As of August 2022, they’ve managed to create 36 Dutch stories for English speakers.
It’s completely free and works just like the official stories on the Duolingo app. Definitely worth checking out!
Other features in Duolingo’s Dutch course
Duolingo’s Dutch course is built on the same stuff as all of Duolingo’s other language courses.
We won’t go into too much detail here, but some of the features worth knowing about include:
- XP – As you work through the Duolingo Dutch course, you’ll earn experience points, which are more commonly known as XP. You’ll earn XP for pretty much everything you do. Some lessons, tasks and exercises will earn you more XP than others.
- Leagues – Every week you’ll be entered into a league with other Duolingo learners. There are 10 leagues to work through, starting at Bronze and ending at Diamond. The leagues are basically leaderboards — simply earn more XP than others in your league to have a chance of winning.
- Gems – XP and crowns aren’t the only things you’ll earn as you learn Dutch. You’ll also earn gems, which you can spend in the Duolingo Shop. There isn’t really much you can buy here, but you can use your gems to pick up things like Streak Freezes, bonus skills, Timer Boosts for timed challenges, and some costumes for the owl.
- Friends – Duolingo is a social experience, so you’re able to follow other users and compare your progress. The guys at Duolingo reckon you’re 5 times more likely to finish your course if you follow people! To get you started, feel free to give me a follow — my username is DCiiieee!
- Duolingo Plus/Super – This is Duolingo’s premium membership. Pay for Plus/Super and you’ll get access to some useful features, including unlimited hearts, no ads and Practice Hub.
Is Duolingo good for learning Dutch?
Now to answer the all-important question: Is Duolingo good for learning Dutch?
Let’s consider some pros and cons.
Learning a new language can be pretty intimidating, especially if you only speak English.
This is why one of the nicest things about Duolingo is just how accessible and welcoming it is.
Regardless of the language you’re learning, Duolingo presents its courses in a really warm, vibrant and inclusive way. So whether this is your second language or your tenth, you can feel at ease straight away!
For the most part, Dutch is one of the easier languages to learn for English speakers. It’s kind of a half-way house between English and German, so naturally English speakers will notice a lot of overlap. Many of the words are the same or similar, and the grammar isn’t overly complicated compared with many of Europe’s other languages.
For its part, Duolingo introduces you to all the essential Dutch details. The course comes loaded with a wide variety of material, gently introducing new words and concepts in a way that naturally gets you up to speed.
Duolingo’s Dutch course also comes with the usual placement test when you first start, so you can rest assured you’ll start your tree from a place you find comfortable.
This doesn’t just go for Duolingo’s Dutch course, it’s the same for ALL of them!
One of the best things about Duolingo is that it’s more than just a language learning tool.
It’s also a game. And although this isn’t to everyone’s liking, it’s a big part of why so many people show up every day to do their daily lessons.
For everything you do in Dutch, you’ll earn XP (experience points) which contribute towards your position in the weekly leagues.
Now this isn’t something you should take too seriously (you can read more about why here) but if you take it lightly it’ll definitely make your Dutch a lot more enjoyable.
Because ultimately, the more you enjoy something, the more likely you are to do it. And given learning Dutch will require you to show up regularly for a very long time, Duolingo could be the perfect solution.
Another great thing about Duolingo is that the Dutch course is 100% free.
There is a premium subscription — Duolingo Plus/Super — but this isn’t something you need in order to complete the course. The whole thing is completely free; the premium subscription just adds a few features that make things a bit smoother.
This is great if you’re just dabbling with Dutch and aren’t ready to commit just yet. But also if you’re keen to get started with the language but don’t want to fork out on special software or tuition.
I take it you’ve seen the owl memes?
Yes, the owl can be *a bit* of a stalker at times, pestering you at all hours to do your daily Dutch lessons!
But relax, contrary to popular belief, he’s not gonna kidnap your family anytime soon!
Jokes aside, Duolingo is brilliant for keeping you motivated.
Learning Dutch takes time. It’s not something you’re going to pick up overnight.
According to the US Foreign Service Institute, it takes roughly 600-750 “class hours” to reach “Professional Working Proficiency” in Dutch.
So yeah, if you’re going to learn Dutch, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul!
That means creating an unbreakable habit. And Duolingo’s amazing for doing that.
Put it this way — my current streak (i.e. the number of days in a row I’ve used Duolingo) goes all the way back to May 2016.
And that’s not just because I’m a bit obsessive! It’s thanks to Duolingo being such a great way of keeping me motivated!
Duolingo’s a great way of getting started with Dutch. But eventually, you’ll need to look further afield if you want to progress.
That’s because Duolingo’s Dutch course, though far from the shortest, is still pretty short. Although each skill has up to 6 levels, realistically you could complete the course to crown level 1 in a fairly short time.
And as I mentioned earlier, you don’t get any of Duolingo’s swankier new features like stories or audio lessons. As such, this means Duolingo’s Dutch course can only take you so far by itself.
no tips or explanations on mobile devices
As an IOS user, this is probably one of my biggest gripes with Duolingo’s Dutch course.
Although Dutch isn’t that difficult for English speakers to grasp, you still need a little bit of direction when it comes to grammar. Unfortunately, Duolingo’s Dutch course does very little in this respect.
While the desktop version of the course offers tips and explanations, they’re nowhere to be seen on mobile devices.
Explanations for things like conjugations, genders and tenses you’ll have to go off and figure out for yourself.
This can be a tad frustrating as many of Duolingo’s mobile courses come with tip sections that make the lessons a whole lot clearer. Given they’re already available on desktop, I just can’t get my head around why they’re not on mobile as well.
Not great for speaking
This is the case for most of Duolingo’s language courses.
Duolingo is brilliant for getting to grips with the listening and reading side of a language. You even get opportunities to practice your pronunciation.
But when it comes to speaking in a real-life scenario, Duolingo’s Dutch course won’t get you there by itself.
The problem is the speaking exercises aren’t conversation exercises. You get a little bit of practice in the conversation mode on the stories, but this just involves reciting what the characters say. You don’t actually come up with your own responses.
Speaking is a skill in its own right and to learn it you’ll need to practice it regularly, ideally with a native speaker, or at the very least using a program that has conversation scenarios (such as DutchPod101).
If you’ve read any of my other articles then you’ll know one of the things I dislike most about Duolingo at the moment is the heart system.
Hearts are basically lives or chances. You start off with 5 then lose one every time you make a mistake.
If you lose all your hearts then you’re not allowed to progress through your course until your hearts replenish.
You can either watch an ad to get one back, do a practice session, spend some gems or wait 5 hours.
It’s far from ideal as it does the unhelpful thing of punishing you for making mistakes.
Which, as far as I’m concerned, is ridiculous as mistakes are absolutely essential and unavoidable when learning a language.
If you’re a total beginner or simply on the fence about learning Dutch, then Duolingo’s Dutch course is definitely a great place to start.
You’ll learn the basics of the language, get to grips with the pronunciation and pick up a nice chunk of useful vocabulary.
You’ll also have a blast working through the course as you compete in the weekly leagues and alongside your friends!
By the end of the course, you’ll definitely be more advanced than when you started.
However, given that the course only has 6 units, you’ll need to use other resources as well if you want to reach fluency.
By itself, Duolingo’s Dutch course could probably get you to an A2 level in reading and listening (so long as you’re doing enough passive learning as well).
A good tool to use — either alongside Duolingo or after you’ve completed the course — is DutchPod101.
DutchPod and Duolingo complement each other beautifully, as they both target areas that the other misses. Duolingo is great for reading and typing things out, whereas DutchPod is brilliant for improving your listening and speaking.
With DutchPod you’ll also get essential resources like grammar packs, cultural insights, and learn the 2,000 most common Dutch words — so by the end of the course, you should be able to understand as much as 80% of all Dutch conversations.
When used together, Duolingo and DutchPod will give you everything you need to reach a comfortable level in Dutch.
if you’re new to Dutch…
I’d highly recommend taking Duolingo’s placement test, figuring out what level you’re at, and then working through the first couple of units of the tree. This will get you familiar with the basics of Dutch.
At the same time, I’d recommend taking advantage of DutchPod’s free trial to get familiar with how the language sounds, pick up some useful phrases and cultural insights, and practice speaking as soon as possible.
Once you’ve worked your way through the Duolingo course, I’d recommend coming back to it daily to keep the streak alive (habit is SO important when learning a language) and start to move through the intermediate to advanced packs on DutchPod.
Finally, make sure you’re getting enough passive exposure to Dutch as well. It’s really important to experience the language in an authentic environment — so things like TV shows, music, books, real-life conversations — so you can see how everything you learn on Duolingo and DutchPod works in the real world.