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How potent is Duolingo? (Dutch)

How effective is Duolingo (assuming one has finished the entire course) at helping one achieve proficiency in Dutch? I know from some of my peers that the conjugation tends to be weak. Should I buy books? If so could you recommend any?

January 11, 2015



Um well I knew German before I started, but I finished the tree in 55 days and I talk with a native speaker daily via kik.

If you do some work outside of Duolingo for vocab / phrasing / colloquial stuff, you'll probably be like B1 by the time you finish. I feel like I'm at about B1-B2 in Dutch because I don't know TONS of vocab, and C1 in German because my speaking is bad and I don't know every single word.

The Dutch course teaches you about 2,000 words and all the grammar. From there you can become fluent, if you do work on your own. It's definitely well enough to allow you to travel to the Netherlands and talk to people in Dutch.

You don't need to buy books about the language if you don't want to. You can ask all the questions you have here, read all the grammar explanations here, and find any other information you need about the language off-site. It's better to have a native explain it to you as many times as you need than read a few sentences in a book! However, once you finish the tree, I recommend buying some books just to read. I bought a 60 page book about how to communicate with schizophrenic people on Amazon.com.

Conjugation is pretty easy. I really find Dutch to be a VERY easy language, maybe a lot because a ton of the words are just misspelled or mispronounced German, but also because the grammar is just simple. I'm comparing it with the only other language I know, German, which is much more complicated. I do find Dutch easier than Swedish, however... Then again, Nederlands is verkeerde Duits (dat is gemeen, lol, sorry) so I would naturally find Swedish harder.

My advice to you is to not leave this site and do as much as you can every day. I did it for 1-4 hours per night to finish the tree in 55 days. I can communicate pretty easily, I guess it's a level of "proficiency" but definitely not fluency. I can respond quickly to things I know the words for, which is most general topics, just talking about life's happenings in general. But if you ask me how to put a saddle on a horse properly, I'm going to tell you in German and hope you understand. XD


Oh, and additionally, I recommend listening to lost of music and memorizing songs. From week one I was memorizing songs with past tense and grammar forms I couldn't identify. By week two I was kik'ing with my native Dutch friends every day.

If I can recommend some singers...

  • Eefje de Visser is a beautiful singer and she is bae
  • Roosbeef is a really unique singer and she is also bae
  • De Alpenzusjes are extremely funny and their songs are catchy and they are both also bae
  • Rinus and his girlfriend are literally the baest baes ever to bae my bae (zoek "met romana op de scooter" op youtube) XD


Thanks for your detailed reply. I have already learned Korean,Japanese, and Mandarin to C1/C2 but they are not remotely similar to Dutch or any other European languages. Although they do give me some experience with learning languages in general.

I am also relieved to hear that you too memorize lyrics. I used to memorize songs just because they sounded "cool" (Rap mostly "Uit het oog"-Nino etc...) But now I will continue doing that.

I definitely plan on finishing this programme and continuing on my journey to learn Dutch. All I want with Duolingo is to be able to get my foot in the door. From there it's like positive feedback, the more you learn the easier it gets.

I do have one more question though. What would you recommend so that I can keep my Dutch skills intact throughout learning? I read that you kiked your friend in the Netherlands. I do not have any friends that speak Dutch (or any other language in that case :D). What can I do?


HOLY CRAP YOU MUST BE A GENIUS o.o Japanese, Korean and Mandarin to C1/C2? Even with all the characters? I could never do that! You have tons of talent.

To keep skills in tact while learning is very easy. Duolingo uses all the words and phrases from previous lessons. For example, when you learn past tense, all the lessons after that will include some past tense! It is easy to retain it because you constantly practice it. ^_^

Whenever I want to find someone to practice with, I post a topic on Duolingo like "Seeking fluent Dutch friends!" and I will usually add them on Facebook so we can practice and become friends. It's also beneficial to make friends because when you go to the Netherlands, you can meet them and you'll already have friends there! :)


Thanks! You aren't to shabby yourself!

I will definitely look it to that when I reach that level though.

Once again thanks for your time!


Thank you for the music recommendations! They are really useful with lyrics sheets do get a nice feel for the sounds. Also, De Alpenzusjes are very funny and catchy XD


Oh and TL;DR... Duolingo used Dutch. It was very effective.


What do you mean in this comment here?


Tl;DR = Too long, didn't read (Short version)

Duolingo used Dutch. It was very effective. (This is a Pokemon reference I believe... In the game, it says, "You used fire wind. It was very effective" or something like that!

So I just made a pokemon reference and I thought it was really funny. XD


Lol I actually didn't see that reference. That makes sense now.


Thank you for your detailed explanation. It is always interesting to know how other users perceive the foreign language learning. It is also funny to read that you learned a language, which is, "just misspelled or mispronounced German" in order to be able to communicate with schizophrenic people in Netherlands ... I'm kidding, of course.


Haha, haven't thought about it that way... Still have time to get a pharmacy degree in order to open a practice in Amsterdam for schizophrenic patients. ^.^


"I'm comparing [Dutch] with the only other language I know, German..."

You appear to dabble in a little English as well.


No I'm using Google Translate. :P

I meant non-native language haha. I guess I should have said foreign language, but I don't like that term because it's foreign to me but it isn't foreign to a German or another speaker of German.


If Dutch is just mispronounced and misspelled German, then what the Germans utter is just atrocious Yiddish after its Semitic and Slavic elements were expelled.


I finished the tree about 2 weeks ago. Here are some thoughts:

  1. Finishing the tree is not the same as knowing all the material in it. If one really knows it all, it is quite a good start. This is a good reason to keep doing the exercises after finishing. I can now make a decent sense of newspapers articles, even though there is much I don't understand.

  2. One practical area where DL falls short is irregular verbs and past tense in general ("I eat, I ate, we ate, I have eaten" etc). One needs to get a list of these and drill them independently. Plenty of internet sources for these.

  3. One needs to develop the 'ear' for listening to spoken dutch, and that will take some time. Youtube seems to be great for that. Songs are also great because one can usually get the lyrics with a google search.


Thank you for the encompassing tips you have shared. I think these are some really good points that I may occasionally forget because we assume just taking the course will result in 100% fluency (especially part 1). Thank You for your time! Kudos


i can help you with learning dutch and the pronounces. i'm a native speaker myself. i'll be glad to help.

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