How to teach children Dutch? Free tips!

Welcome!

Whether you’re a Dutch family living abroad or a non-Dutch family planning to move to the Netherlands, speaking Dutch is essential for the relationships and career of your children in the Netherlands. Children who have a language delay when starting at the elementary school often will never be able to catch up the delay, and in most cases won’t get to the level of getting a bachelor's or master's degree by the end of their schooling time.

What you do as a parent before you take them to school, is essential for the future of your children. It is critical to expose children to Dutch as early and as often as possible in multiple ways. Build up their vocabulary in a structured way. Be persistent and consistent. Embed Dutch in the life of your children before they attend school.

In this article I share some advice to maximize the exposure of the Dutch language to your child.

Watch Dutch videos for kids

There are plenty of Dutch videos available on YouTube and NPO (Dutch television) that are safe and engaging for young children. Our favorite series and video-channels are listed below.

Nijntje

Nijntje is a small female rabbit in a series of picture books drawn and written by Dutch artist Dick Bruna. Hundreds of movies and books are available. Most children love them!

Watch Nijntje:

Kikker en zijn vriendjes

Kikker (Frog in English) has become a well-known and loved book character. Together with his friends Pig, Duck and Hare, Frog lives in an animal world. He observes daily events from a childlike perspective, offering children insight into social interactions.

Watch Kikker:

More Dutch videos for kids

Biba boerderij on YouTube

Wielen van de Bus on YouTube

Peppa Pig Dutch on YouTube and Bol.com

Listen to Dutch songs

Listen to Dutch songs. Let your children sing along with fun Dutch songs. Some interesting lists of songs:

Use apps to build vocabulary

There are various apps available that help your child to learn Dutch. We developed the app Learn Dutch With Amy to help children aged 2 - 7 years build-up their vocabulary.

Another app available to try out is Taal en Woordenschat.

Visit a Speech Therapist

Are you worried about the speaking and hearing capabilities of your child? In the Netherlands there is an extensive network of speech therapists available, many of them are specialized in helping children.

Find the Speech Therapist (Logopedist in Dutch) close to you via zorgkaartnederland.nl.

Read Dutch books

Reading Dutch books aloud works very well for building vocabulary. If you don’t speak Dutch, ask VoorleesExpress or Taal Doet Meer for help! They have volunteers that read aloud at children's homes in many places in The Netherlands.

Our top 5 Dutch books for young kids:

Bobbi books on Bol.com

Lang geleden on Bol.com

Dikkie Dik on Bol.com

Kikker en zijn vriendjes on Bol.com

Listen to Dutch audiobooks

There are plenty of high-quality Dutch audio-books available, for various ages. They help to teach Dutch, and also help to introduce Dutch culture. Moments we found useful with our own family to listen to stories, is on silent Saturday / Sunday mornings, and during long-distance car-traveling. Some books also introduce parts of Dutch culture and history.

Our top 5 Dutch audio-books:

Nijntje CD’s on Bol.com for ages 1-4 years.

Jip en Janneke stories on Bol.com (CD) and Spotify for ages 2-5 years.

Het grote Pim en Pom Luisterboek on Bol.com

Boer Boris: CD on Bol.com, and Spotify

Pluk van de Petteflet CD on Bol.com

Dutch daycare / nanny

Hiring a Dutch nanny (or sending your children to Dutch daycare) exposes your children to Dutch for the whole day. Most Dutch adults speak English as well, so instruct your nanny to speak Dutch to your child, to make sure he is exposed to Dutch.

Having your child at daycare, also connects him to other children who will speak to your children in Dutch.

In the Netherlands bringing your child to a host family (gastouders or gastgezin in Dutch) while working, is also very common. You can find a host family on Oppassen.nl

Send kids to a Dutch kindergarten

In most Dutch places there is a Dutch kindergarten (peuterspeelzaal in Dutch). For half a day, children aged 2.5 - 4 years can go there and do fun activities that elaborate on their language-learning. It is also a way to prepare them for primary school, which starts for children at the age of 4 years.

Hire a Dutch language tutor

If you have money to spend and would like to see a quicker progress, you can hire a language coach. Flowently has Dutch language tutors for children.

Create a learning plan

Getting started is good. But continuing to do it over time is essential. Define milestones and create a schedule for each milestone.

Some tips to use as milestones:

Example schedule based on categories of our app.

Theme When Description
Numbers Week 1 Learn numbers zero to ten, simple math, learn to count.
Clothing Week 2 Clothing for girls, boys, winter-clothing, summer-clothing. Go shopping, buy some clothes.
Colors Week 3 Learn all the colors, buy pencils, light colors, dark colors, rainbows.
Farm Week 4 Animals at the farm, activities of a farm. Visit a farm with the child.
Transportation Week 5 From cars to trucks to airplanes to bikes. Go outside and search for them all!
Shapes Week 6 From triangle to square to heart. Find shapes back in real-life.
Playground Week 7 Name all playground equipment in a local playground.
Food & drinks Week 8 Name the foods you are currently eating. Let your child choose what to eat.
Zoo Week 9 Animals in the zoo. What sound do those animals make? Visit a zoo and repeat the words learned while watching the animals.
Home Week 10 The rooms at home. Machines in your home.
Body Week 11 Recognize all the body parts. For advanced learners: learn the name of each finger.
Music Week 12 Learn all about the various music instruments, including the sound they make. Take a proof lesson with the child to play one of the instruments and learn even more about musical notes.
Sport Week 13 Which sports are available? Try out a sport your child likes the most.

Put reminders in the agenda to make sure the plan is followed. Is this schedule to hard? Then schedule two weeks for each theme.

Join expat communities

Most large cities in the Netherlands have a vibrating expat-community. For example, there is Expat Sport Lounge Rotterdam and Amsterdam Mamas (for international parents). Meet each other and use one another's network to improve Dutch and the social life of your kids and yourself. Search for specific groups on internations.org, Facebook or Meetup.com.

Visit Net in Nederland website

Net In Nederland is the official government website for immigrants of the Netherlands. It contains many TV shows presented in Dutch with Arabic and English subtitles and it has a lot of helpful information for newcomers who are unfamiliar with The Netherlands.

Feedback, suggestions and tips

That are all the tips we have the share so far.

Have something to say? Get in touch with us and share us your story.

About the author

This article was written by Kees van Dieren (LinkedIn profile). He is founder of TeachKidsLanguages.com and raises his four children in multiple languages.