How to learn Dutch when you don’t live in a Dutch speaking country

You’ve heard it before — one of the most effective ways of learning a language is to immerse yourself in the spoken language as much as possible.

But what if you’re learning Dutch and not living in a Dutch speaking country? Is it still possible to be immersed in Dutch?


Thanks to the internet there are plenty of ways to access Dutch content in the form of books, blogs, YouTube videos, courses, and more.

I have been learning Dutch for more than four years and for the first year and a half I was living in Canada which is of course not a Dutch speaking country. So I know a thing or two about this!

Here are my best tips for learning Dutch if you’re not living in a Dutch speaking country.

Take online Dutch courses

The first thing I would recommend doing is taking an online Dutch course. When you think of taking a course you might picture sitting in a classroom or a Zoom call with a teacher and other students.

While this type of course is of course an option, there are many other more accesible options such as self-paced online courses or video courses.

These are super flexible since you can watch lessons at your own pace, which is ideal if you’re not living in the same time zone where classes are being held.

For absolute beginners who truly want to learn to speak Dutch, I do think it’s important to learn the grammar and not just vocabulary. That’s why taking a course is a great idea. The most important and basic grammar concepts will be laid out for you.

Check out my article with 7 free Dutch courses you can take online for some ideas of both free and paid online courses.

My recommendations:


If you want to learn completely on your own with free content, use my guide: Topics to cover if you’re teaching yourself Dutch. Here I give an overview of the important topics for each level, and what you should aim to achieve in each one.

My guide to the best free online material is a great supplement to this DIY course.

Supplement Dutch courses with a language app

Consistency is the key to getting the most out of language learning. Using a language learning app can help structure your learning by forming a new habit of daily practice.


You may not think necessarily think of Duolingo as a course, but studies (by Duolingo) have shown that after completing a seven unit course on the app, learners have completed all of A1 and A2 and half of B1 based on the international standards set out in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

I personally used Duolingo and do recommend it. Particularly on the web browser version of Duolingo, there are extensive explanations for many of the topics in the course.

When combined with other courses and practice methods such as speaking and reading, I believe apps can make a positive contribution to your learning.

Other recommended apps and websites:

  • Memrise
  • Pimsleur

Follow a Dutch language learning book

For those that are interested in learning the grammar rules and doing practice exercises, a language learning textbook is a great solution.

My recommendations:

  • Dutch for Self-study (Prisma)
  • Essential Dutch Grammar (Henry R. Stern)
  • Basic Dutch: A Grammar and Workbook (Jenneke A. Oosterhoff)
  • (Katja Verbruggen, Welmoed Hoogvorst)
  • Zichtbaar Nederlands (Bas van der Ham)
  • Nederlands op Niveau (Berna de Boer, Ronald Ohlsen)

Follow Dutch teachers on YouTube

If you’re stuck on a particular grammar topic, I find it really useful to watch a YouTube video giving an explanation of the topic.

The platform has explanatory videos of just about every Dutch grammar topic you can think of.

Check out this list of 8 YouTube that teach you Dutch for some ideas.

My recommendations:

Surround yourself with spoken Dutch

The Dutch you hear in language apps is quite a bit different from the Dutch you hear in the media and from native speakers. So once you have developed your vocabulary a bit, it is good to start incorporating some exercises in listening to and comprehending spoken Dutch.

Many people suggest children’s programs which I also think is a great place to start. I myself found it useful in the beginning!

But where do you find Dutch cartoons when you’re not living in a Dutch speaking country?

Dutch children’s YouTube channel

I’m a huge fan of YouTube for language learning and have used it since day one of learning Dutch.

Videos on the platform are available virtually no matter where you are in the world — so there’s nothing standing in the way of you and endless Dutch content.

My recommendations:

At some point you may grow tired of this method seeing as the content itself isn’t very engaging. There are fortunately great options when you’re ready to take it to the next level.

Dutch learning podcasts

There are a number of podcasts created specifically as a resource to help new Dutch learners. These are typically focused on the Netherlands — history, holidays, traditions — and are spoken in slow, clear, Dutch. 

Many of these also offer episode transcripts for those that find it useful to follow the text while listening. 

Check out my article for the 7 podcasts for beginner Dutch learners!

My recommendations:

  • Zeg Het in het Nederlands
  • 5-minuten Nederlands
  • The Dutch Online Academy
  • Your Dutch Coach

General spoken Dutch content

After you’ve spent time improving your vocabulary and comprehension, it’s a great moment to add in more native Dutch content to everyday life.

It’s ok if you don’t understand 100% of the words. That’s actually the point!

Incorporating Dutch this way is an awesome way to immerse yourself and pick up vocabulary without feeling like you’re studying.

This is especially true if you can find something that interests you. It goes without saying that it becomes much easier to consume content that you’re interested in on a regular basis and stay engaged. 

Once you’re at this stage, the possibilities of content for you are endless! Even when not living in a Dutch speaking country.

My recommendations:

Watching Dutch series and movies

Watching Dutch spoken television shows and movies is a little bit more difficult from a non-Dutch speaking country.

While living in Canada I was able to search Netflix and watch some Dutch spoken movies but the selection was very limited.

If you want to explore more content that isn’t available in your country, you can try using a VPN.

A VPN (virtual private network) changes your IP address so that you can browse the internet as if you were in another country. This way you can browse, for instance, Netflix content in the Netherlands or Belgium.

I personally used ExpressVPN for this, which costs around USD 10.00 per month.

Once your VPN is set up, check out your favourite platforms in your Dutch speaking country of choice for plenty of movies or series to watch in Dutch!

My recommendations:

  • NPO Start
  • Netflix (paid subscription required)
  • Disney+ (paid subscription required)

Practice speaking Dutch

Having conversations in Dutch is undoubtedly the biggest challenge while not living in a Dutch speaking country.

But it’s not impossible!

You likely won’t be able to speak with store clerks or your neighbours in Dutch, but there are many online options to connect with people either willing to help you with your Dutch, or wanting help practicing your native language.

Throughout this entire learning process, keep in mind that it is good to start speaking Dutch from the very beginning. Notice I say “from the very beginning and not “when you feel comfortable”.

You will most likely not feel comfortable at the beginning, but you have to start somewhere.

Find a language partner

There are several online solutions for those of us that cannot easily find a language partner due to living in a non-Dutch speaking country.

My recommendations:

  • Ask around the r/learndutch Reddit community (you may also be able to offer a language exchange for a Dutch speaker looking to improve in your native language)
  • Join a language exchange discord server
  • Take lessons with a community tutor on italki for as low as € 7 per hour
  • Do a free language exchange via an app such as HelloTalk

Private lessons


italki is an online platform that connects students with either qualified language teachers or community tutors (native speakers willing to tutor you in your target language).

Each tutor can determine his or her own rate. As of today there are tutors available between € 4 and € 77 per hour on the platform.

Tutors are also all over the world, so you may even find a native speaking Dutch tutor in the same time zone as you.

I personally liked taking lessons with a tutor on italki at first. I started with hour long lessons but eventually found I preferred 30 minute sessions.

Expect to try a few different tutors before you find someone that you connect well with and that helps you learn in the most beneficial way possible.

Private tutors

Most Dutch language schools also offer private one-on-one lessons to students. Prices are often not listed online, however based on my own research (in 2021) the cost of private virtual lessons costs up to € 65 per hour.

If you can’t find a Dutch school in your country, there are of course plenty in Dutch speaking countries such as the Netherlands or Belgium.

If you can afford private lessons, I have found them to be the most effective in terms of progressing my Dutch.

Continue learning vocabulary

Reading in Dutch is one of the best ways to learn new vocabulary and get used to the grammar.

I write my own short excerpts in Dutch on this website. For now these are at the beginner or intermediate level and cover typical Dutch topics followed by English translation:

I have also written numerous articles helping people find Dutch reading material because I myself struggled to find engaging, level-appropriate practice material online.

Check out these articles:


As you can see, learning Dutch outside of a non-Dutch speaking country takes a little bit more effort but is certainly possible.

There are tons of (free) online Dutch courses you can follow from anywhere in the world.

And with the help of the internet, you can access endless Dutch content in the form of YouTube videos, movies, television shows, books, magazines, blogs, and much more.

Take advantage of online communities and apps connecting Dutch learners with tutors and native speakers who are willing to give a helping hand to people wanting to learn their beloved language.

Good luck!

Are you learning Dutch from a non-Dutch speaking country? What is working well for you? Leave a comment and let me know what your go-to resources are for learning Dutch abroad!

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