Topics to cover if you’re teaching yourself Dutch

Can absolute beginners teach themselves some Dutch with the help of the internet? Absolutely, yes! There are plenty of apps, websites, YouTube channels, and courses to be found online that can guide you along in your Dutch learning journey.

The question is: where to start?

This list is suitable for you if you are looking for an outline to learn Dutch on your own β€” beginning with basic grammar structures the way you would in a traditional Dutch course.

You want to structure your own study plan and make your own notes, but would like to follow some sort of guide to ensure you cover all the important topics.

This list is also great if you’ve already taken some courses, but want to continue studying towards the next level outside of the classroom.

I have developed this list of topics which you can use to structure your own self-paced study plan.Β 

I have not developed my own course material yet, but I have summarized my top recommendations for free online material you can use to teach yourself each one of these topics.

Here is the list of topics, and what you should aim to learn in each one!

Beginner (A0 – A1)

Verbs & pronouns
– Regular verbs in the present tense
– Irregular verbs (hebben, zijn) [to have, to be]
– Pronouns (ik, jij, hij, zij, het, u, wij, jullie, zij) [I, you, he, she, it, you (formal), we, you (plural), they]
– Identify the root of a verb
– Conjugate regular verbs (memorize the pronouns)
– Conjugate hebben and zijn
Exceptions to the regular conjugation rules
– Verbs with a root ending in double identical consonant (e.g. willen [to want])
– Verbs with a root ending in consonant-vowel-consonant (e.g. kopen [to buy])
– Verbs with a root ending in β€˜z’ or β€˜v’ (e.g. reizen [to travel])
– Conjugate regular verbs (with exceptions)
Articles (1)
– De, het [the] introduction
– Begin learning vocabulary
– Memorize the article that belongs with each new noun that you learn
Numbers and letters– Know the alphabet in Dutch
– Know the numbers 0-20
– Know how to form numbers above 20
Spelling & pronunciation
– Short and long vowels
– Letter combinations
– Spell words based on their pronunciation
– Pronounce words based on their spelling
Simple Dutch sentence structure
– Word order with one verb
– Inversion (when starting with a condition of time or place)
– Write a basic sentence with one verb following Dutch word order
Basic Dutch question word order– Write a basic question with one verb following Dutch word order
Er (1)
– Er as indefinite subject
– Write a sentence using β€˜er’ as a subject
Interrogative pronouns (question words)
– Wat, wie, waar, waarom, wanneer, welke, hoe, etc. [what, who, where, why, when, which, how, etc.]
– Write a basic question with one verb using an interrogative pronoun
Conjunctions (1)
– En, maar, dus, want, of [and, but, so, because, or]
– Write sentences connected by a conjunction
Dutch sentence structure
– Word order with more than one verb
– Write basic sentences with more than one verb
Modal verbs
– Kunnen, mogen, moeten, willen, hoeven, zullen [to be able to, to be allowed to, to have to/must, to want, to have to/must, will/shall]
– Conjugate the modal verbs
– Write basic sentences with a modal verb and regular verb
Plural (-en, -s, -’s)– Know the different ways and spelling rules on how to turn a singular noun into a plural noun.
– Write basic sentences using plural noun(s)
– E.g. in, uit, aan, op, van, naar, met, voor, over, bij, etc. [in, out/out of/from, on/to, on, from/off, to, with, for, over/across, with/at, etc.]
– Write sentences using prepositions
Possessive pronouns
– Mijn, jouw, zijn, haar, uw, onze/ons, jullie, hun [my, your, his, her, your (formal), our, your (plural), their]
– Write sentences using a possessive pronoun
Direct & indirect object
– Mij/me, jou/je, hem, haar, het, u, ons, jullie, hen/hun) [me, you, him, her, it, you (formal), us, you (plural), them]
– Write sentences using direct/indirect objects
Negation (1)
– Geen, niet [no, not]
– Niet for actions, geen for possession / indefinite objects
– Write sentences using negation (geen or niet)
Demonstrative pronouns
– Deze, dit, die, dat [this, this, that, that]
– Write sentences using the correct demonstrative pronoun corresponding to the noun (de or het?)
– Write sentences using deze/dit/die/dat as a subject
Present perfect
– Hebben or zijn [to have or to be]
– PP (present perfect) form for regular verbs (soft ketchup)
– Determine when a past participle uses hebben or zijn
– Write sentences in the present perfect form
Exceptions to the PP form for regular verbs
– Irregular verbs
Strong verbs β€˜ge + infinitive’
– No ge-
– Learn the PP of the most common verbs
Recommended vocabulary / flashcards– Common verbs (memorize present tense conjugation, and PP + auxiliary verb hebben or zijn)
– 1000 most common words + articles
– Interrogative pronouns
– Pronouns + iemand, niemand, iedereen, iets, alles, niets
– Common preposition combinations

Elementary (A1 – A2)

Negation (2)
– More examples of definite vs. indefinite
– Write more complex sentences using negation (geen or niet)
Reflexive verbs– Write sentences using a reflexive verb (including the reflexive verb as the infinitive, second verb)
Om + te constructions– Identify when om + te construction can be used
– Write sentences using the om + te construction
Simple past (1)
– Form the simple past
– Form the simple past for common verbs (zijn, hebben, modal verbs from A1)
– Write sentences using the simple pastΒ 
Separable verbs– Conjugate common separable verbs
– Write sentences with separable verbs
Adverbs + word order– Write sentences using adverbs
Articles (2)
– De, het [the] and their influence
– Determination of deze, die, dat, dit
– Determination of adjective spelling
– Determination of personal pronoun spelling (ons, onze)
– Determination of interrogative pronoun spelling (welk, welke)
– Write sentences using demonstrative pronouns, adjectives, personal pronouns, and/or interrogative pronouns influenced by the article of an object
– Spelling rules for definite vs. indefinite objects
– Spelling rules exceptions
– Verbs ending in f > v, s > z, aa > a, etc.
– Write sentences using adjectives and definite/indefinite objects
Al, alles, allemaal, soms, sommige– Write sentences using al, alles, soms, etc.
Position words
– Zitten, staan, liggen, stoppen, doen, zetten, leggen
– Identify what position word to use in various situations
– Write sentences using the position words
– Write sentences using the action words
Simple past (2)
– Form the simple past for all other verbs
– Form the simple past
– Write sentences using the simple pastΒ 
Aan het construction– Write sentences using the aan het constructionΒ 
Future tense
– Zullen, gaan double infinities
– No zullen or gaan
– Identify when it is best to use zullen or gaan to form the future tenseΒ 
– Write sentences using the future tense
Imperative– Write sentences using the imperative
Recommended vocabulary / flashcards– Most common verbs in simple past
– Next most common verbs (memorize present tense conjugation, and PP + auxiliary verb hebben or zijn) + simple past
– Next 1000 most common words + articles
– Reflexive verbs
– Separable verbs
– Common adjectives

Intermediate (A2 – B1)

Laten– Identify situations where laten should be used
– Write sentences with laten
Conjunctions + subclause word order
– Omdat, doordat, zodat, totdat, voordat, nadat, alsof, als, of, zoals, hoewel, terwijl, toen, sinds, die
– Write sentences using conjunctions followed by subclause word order
– Write sentences starting with a subclause
Multiple verbs in a sublause– Write sentences with multiple verbs in the subclause
Relative subclause
– Waar, wat
– Write sentences with a relative subclause
Er (2)
– Daar/hier
– Write sentences using er in place of β€˜daar’ or β€˜hier’
Er (3)
– Er + preposition
– Write sentences using er + preposition
Er (4)
– replacing β€˜het’ 
– Write sentences using er in place of β€˜het’
Passive form
– Er without subject
– Er with subject
– Passive sentence + door
– Form the passive voice
– Change an active sentence to a passive sentence
– Write sentences using the passive voice
Present participle– Form the present participle – Write sentences using the present participle
– Politeness
– Wish/desire
– Advice
– Imaginary situation
– Probability
– Uncertain information
– Initial plan
– Write sentences using zouden in each situation
Past perfect
– Soft/polite
– Imaginary situation
– Regret
– Form the past perfect
– Write sentences using the past perfect
Recommended vocabulary / flashcards– Next most common verbs (memorize present tense conjugation, and PP + auxiliary verb hebben or zijn) + simple past
– Next 1000 most common words + articles
– Conjunctions

Upper Intermediate (B1 – B2)

Verbs with a fixed preposition– Learn the most common verbs + their fixed preposition
– Know the Dutch verb + fixed preposition combinations which differ from English
Verbs with a fixed preposition as a question– Form a question from a sentence with a verb and fixed preposition
The past tense with multiple verbs– Write sentences in the past tense with multiple verbs
Word order of a sentence with word groups (tangconstructies)– Identify when it is better to use a tangconstructie than standard word order
– Write sentences using tangconstructie
Recommended vocabulary / flashcards– Next most common verbs (memorize present tense conjugation, and PP + auxiliary verb hebben or zijn) + simple past
– Next 1000 most common words + articles
– Conjunctions Verbs + fixed preposition

Is there an important topic that I’m missing? Leave a comment and let me know what other Dutch topics belong on the list!

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