Pronunciation and Speaking
I have just began learning Dutch on this website and noticed something particular. Don't get me wrong, the actual learning of Dutch is going great for me, however, I'm afraid that by the end of this course, I will only be able to read and write the language and not be able to actually speak it with the correct pronunciations of the language. So what I would like to ask to the community is if there is something I can do and/or find that will help me to say words or phrases correctly and fluidly
(I don't hate you, robotic Dutch speaker!)
Kind regards, DonutTheGuy.
There are a few sites I know of, and that have been linked of in the past that will help you learn to listen to Dutch and with pronunciation.
First of all, if you should start off with learning to pronounce the alphabet - learn the different vowel sounds especially distinguishing between long and short vowels as well as the many different kind of vowel combinations that Dutch has.
http://www.dutchgrammar.com/en/?n=SpellingAndPronunciation.01 This should help you get started with the pronunciation aspect and it will also help you with improving listening skills.
When you feel confident enough to take on other forms of media/resources with your learning, I'd recommend using:
http://oefenen.nl/programma/soort/taal (Click on the first star lessons as a beginner, this site has short comedy sketches with easy to follow dialogues for listening - it also helps me with pronunciation as I learn how to flow words together more consistently).
Another user also linked the site: http://www.2bdutch.nl/en
I also recommend listening to Dutch nursery songs as the language is usually very simple and it's how we learnt our own native tongues, through our parents singing nursery rhymes: http://www.kinderliedjes.info/
As well as that I recommend watching Disney movies in your target language (as it's simple to follow and they are global so therefore the language used will be consistent with the original version that you know: English) - whether you have Dutch audio English subtitles, or English audio with Dutch subtitles. The former has helped me learn to understand the speed of spoken Dutch.
Also try listening to Dutch radio stations, another user on Duo linked: http://www.npo.nl/radio which allows you to listen to some Dutch stations.
I hope that helps :)
P.S I also recommend trying to get Pimsleur Dutch (you can find it relatively cheap on eBay as I have) and listen to it on your iPod, phone etc when you're just busying yourself with normal life. This way you'll start getting the hang of pronunciation and pick it up. Another thing my mum suggested for me, personally, is to try to sing (doesn't have to be really loud though) the sentences I say if I'm scared of sounding robotic, as it'll help me lose the hesitation I sometimes get when trying to say certain words.
Regarding watching movies, don't forget the option of having Dutch audio with Dutch subtitles if you have some experience in listening to Dutch.
@DonutTheGuy: what can also help for pronunciation, repeat everything you hear in Dutch and also say all sentences out loud (for instance when doing Duolingo exercises, or when reading a news article).
Dutch in 3 Months was recommended to me. It comes with a grammar book and many hours of native spoken Dutch on CDs along with the transcripts. The first chapter spends lots of time teaching correct pronunciation .Boring but necessary for Dutch in particular. Unlike Spanish, where pretty much every letter is pronounced and the vowels only have a single sound, Dutch seems a bit more difficult to pronounce. I found it somewhat difficult to find the course legally in the US. Seems to be quite popular in Europe.
I find the robo-voice almost intolerable. Adding speaking exercises (which I hope they do) would help a lot. Also http://en.bab.la/dictionary/dutch-english/ is useful for single word pronunciation. Google Translate and Duo must use the same voice engine because they sound exactly the same.