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Review of the Dutch Tree

After a few hours of hard work I've finished the tree. That's not as impressive as it may seem since I've got the home advantage of being Dutch :)

I'm positively surprised :)

The placement test decided I could skip the first 25 skills, which was mostly due to my sloppiness. It's amazing how often I unconsciously mix 'the' and 'de' up :) From there on I took the shortcuts. I failed the last one because of some more sloppiness and because of some translations upon which Duo and I disagreed. So I did the last twenty-something skills by testing them out.

First the voice. I know it isn't the voice the team wanted but I still found it quite good. It doesn't sound suicidal like the Italian one, robotic like the Portuguese one or at times weird like the English one. It reminded me a bit of an old, disapproving aunt, but I think the team's description, the voice of our former Queen fits better :). Yes, at times the voice gets the stress wrong, or, in case of some loanwords and geographical names, it messes things up completely, but I never got even close to turning off the voice completely because I was so frustrated.

The skills themselves are nicely ordered, without stuffing all the tenses at end the tree, as, for example, Spanish does. This way all tenses are used outside the skill in which they are introduced so you have the opportunity to use them 'out in the open' before you finish the tree.

Towards the end the sentences get more complex. This isn't limited to grammar lessons only, the noun skills get more difficult sentences too. When I did Spanish over a year ago I remember that lesson after lesson I got sentences like 'la informaciĆ³n' and 'la curiosidad'. Don't expect that with Dutch :)

There is an explanation of the more difficult things in a skill in every skill that requires it. They're nice if a bit concise, but good enough to get you started. If you need more elaborate explanations I suggest visiting http://www.dutchgrammar.com/ It took a long time for the other languages to get so much explanation along the skills, if explanation has come at all, so 'petje af' :)

Towards the end of the tree there are still many sentences where Duo could be a bit less picky about what it accepts and what not, but really, I'm nitpicking, the tree has only been out for one day. Portuguese and Italian had been out for over half a year when I finished them and I remember sending far more reports for those languages.

I like the references to historic events and Dutch proverbs and other things in the sentences. It gives the exercises more depth. :)

So, all in all, well done team :)

For those of you who are interested in statistics: you learn 1935 words across 340 lessons.

July 18, 2014



Thanks for taking the time to analyze for us non-Dutch speakers (but not for long!). :) Great information.


I'm really looking forward to completing the tree. As others have said, it looks superb. I lived in The Netherlands for 18 months when I was a teenager, but haven't actively used Dutch for almost 10 years now. I was surprised at how much I still know! I took the placement test and passed out of 34 skills. It's great to be able to practice again as I still visit The Netherlands quite often (my mother, stepfather and sister still live there) but due to not having used the language for a while I've felt embarrassed about trying and stuck to communicating in English. This is going to give me the confidence again, I think!

Thanks for the review. I'm looking forward to progressing through the tree from where I am! :)


As a native Dutch person I can only agree with you. The tree looks superb. I took the placement test and another checkpoint test to get to the near end, and from what I've seen so far it looks really good. Yes there are of course some translations that should be correct but which aren't in their system yet, but they are minor and the moderators are working hard on incorporating them. This certainly is a very far developed beta.

I also really like the availability of special drill lessons for difficult grammar, for example the word 'er'. It's good to get a lot of exposure to that rather than having it's use scattered around different lessons. I'm less excited about the voirce unfortunately, she does sound a lot like our former queen, though it seems like she had a couple of drinks.

Anyway, if you wish to learn Dutch, I can really recommend playing with the new tree, though for correct listening/pronounciation skills (and conversing in general) finding a language partner would be better ;)

Amazing job team!


I agree that the voice sounds quite good (well, good to me as a native speaker of US English). I loved your description of the Italian and Portuguese voices, and the Dutch voice is much better than either of these. I also really like having the grammatical explanations built into the lessons.

I've already submitted some alternate translations and have been pleasantly surprised at how fast the response time is. Nice work by the Dutch team!


Any stats from the CMU folks on users and how many have hit 25 in all 5 languages (before Dutch was added) like pmm123? This is some testament to the addictiveness of this approach. And good work, pmm123, and everyone.


Thanks; now all I have to do is to keep the trees at full strength. ;-)


I have also finished the tree and I agree with everything you have written. The last part really rings true. Duo is a bit nitpicky about what it accepts. This can be a bit frustrating in later exercises, because the sentences are generally longer and more complex than those of the Spanish tree, as you've already mentioned.

There were quite a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle grammar mistakes in later exercises ("dichtbij de Waddeneilanden"), ("zonder matigheid wordt jij niet gelukkig") but it's just nitpicking if you look at the tree as a whole. It's very well done, especially considering it has only been up for two days.

By the way, I can't see the Dutch flag next to anyone's user name but mine. Can other people see mine? It should be German 13, Spanish 12, Dutch 11.


yeah, they disappear/reappear regularly; sometimes I see mine & others, but most of the time I don't see the dutch flag on anyone - hopefully this will be ameliorated once the course moves on from beta? (that, & the lack of dutch in the mobile app)


I could have sworn I saw it on someone other than me but maybe my brain tilted their French flag instead. Can't see any now except mine own!

EDIT: I saw it for a second but now mine has disappeared O.o http://pasteboard.co/1FkyQ7gM.png


It's been coming and going! I've seen it a few times and then it vanishes :p


Hopefully I can finish my tree sometime in life!


A big thanks for me too. Your review of the tree is just the encouragement I need to really get stuck in (whilst not neglecting my French of course). :-)


This is a really useful post! When you're learning, it's hard to know if you're learning the right version. I am really glad a Dutch person thinks that this is a good course too :-) So far, I'm really happy with it.


I have significant previous experience with Dutch but have gotten quite rusty in recent years. I was deliberately a little sloppy on the placement test so I would test out of the super-basic items but do a more thorough review of all the other content. The tree is fantastic and I'm really enjoying working through it. It seems to get quite advanced near the end, so I'm looking forward to a challenging review. I think I'll be speaking again in no time. Thanks, Team Dutch! :)

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