Tips for improving your Dutch pronounciation

26 March 2017
door Regina Coeli

Dutch pronunciation frequently poses challenges for non-native Dutch speakers. The challenges depend on your mother tongue. The language you grew up with actually impacts the way the muscles of your mouth work, as well as what feels right in terms of pronunciation. Pronunciation training is an integral aspect of any Dutch course at Language Institute Regina Coeli, and for good reason. But you can also continue working on your pronunciation afterwards!

Characteristics of Dutch pronunciation

  1. Dutch has a large number of vowel sounds and diphthongs. The letter ‘e’, for example, can be pronounced in various ways. And what about the differences between ‘eu’, ‘ui’, ‘uu’ en ‘ou’?
  2. Not all Dutch consonant sounds appear in other languages. The rolling Dutch ‘r’ can be tricky for native English speakers to pronounce, and the letter ‘h’ is not pronounced in French.
  3. Consonants are combined in numerous ways in Dutch. The word ‘Scheveningen’ contains a notoriously difficult ‘sch’ combination.
  4. Word stress, pacing, intonation and pronunciation can all be different than in your native language. Rhythm, for example, is very important in Dutch sentences.

What can you do to improve your pronunciation?

  1. Listen to Dutch radio and Dutch music often.
  2. Listen to yourself as well. Record yourself reading aloud, for example, and then listen to it and try to do it again with even better pronunciation.
  3. For advanced learners: practise using tongue twisters. These tricky sentences force you to speak clearly. Practise one every day, or say one aloud just before you have a conversation in Dutch to fine tune your pronunciation. 

A few fun Dutch tongue twisters:

  • Als jouw tekkel mijn tekkel tackelt, tackelt mijn tekkel jouw tekkel terug.
  • De kat krabt de krullen van de trap.
  • Knappe kappers kappen knap, maar de knecht van de knappe kapper kapt nog knapper dan de knappe kapper kappen kan.
  • De meid sneed zeven scheve sneden brood.
  • De slome slak eet slappe sla.
  • Leentje leerde Lotje lopen op de lange Lindelaan. Maar omdat Lotje niet wilde lopen liet Leentje Lotje staan.
  • Wat een weer weer. Je waait haast van de weg weg. Je kunt beter in het magazijn zijn, met een doosje aardbeien bij je.

At Language Institute Regina Coeli, we regularly give training to those who already speak Dutch well, but still have a noticeable foreign accent. To remedy this, you do various pronunciation exercises in private lessons, and you do it with a trainer who gives you immediate feedback. The trainer also shows you how the sounds you are struggling with are formed in the mouth. In addition, training participants practise by reading texts aloud and listening critically to themselves. In this way, you become much more aware of your own pronunciation pitfalls and how to overcome them.
If Dutch pronunciation is an issue for you, we would be happy to help you improve!

Interested in following language training at Regina Coeli?

The Regina Coeli method ensures that you learn to speak a foreign language quickly and effectively. Our highly qualified trainers teach you the skills, vocabulary and grammar that you need for your specific situation so you can immediately start communicating in the language.

Do you require more information? Please contact us!

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