If you want to learn Dutch, there are plenty of ways to do so.
All these require some level of interaction, and you may not always be free to do so (e.g. when you’re driving). In this case, podcasts can be a good option.
You can switch one on while doing something else, like exercising, cooking or even just taking a walk, and passively soak up some Dutch.
Below I’ve picked what I think are the best podcasts to learn or improve your Dutch.
I’ll start off with one aimed at beginners, then have a look at one aimed at more intermediate learners.
The rest of the list are informative podcasts for intermediate to advanced students that cover a range of topics. I’ve also included two Flemish podcasts for people south of the border.
I’ll start off with Mama Dutch, a podcast that accompanies other learning materials from a language teacher near Amsterdam.
The podcast can also stand alone, however, and I like how the teacher will explain what she’s about to do in English, say the Dutch, and then explain it again in English.
The focus is very much on the Dutch that’s spoken in real life and should equip you to start speaking the language in everyday situations very quickly.
Most lessons are pretty short and just focus on basics. Some lessons go over saying hello and goodbye in Dutch, others over ordering in cafes and restaurants.
It’s all very accessible and, above all, free, so if you want to learn some Dutch basics, Mama Dutch’s podcasts are a good place to start.
Een Beetje Nederlands
A step up from Mama Dutch you’ll find een beetje Nederlands (“a little bit of Dutch”), a podcast series that uses slow Dutch to talk about typically Dutch things.
I’m a huge fan of slow language learning, several of my favorite Greek YouTube channels feature it for example, as I think there’s no better way to improve your listening skills.
Een beetje Nederlands is another great example: the presenters speak slowly and clearly and each episode comes with a written transcript so you can follow along.
On top of that, they regularly have guests on, so you can adjust to different ways of speaking.
As for the subjects, these are all things that are, in some way or another, extremely Dutch. Examples include how to use Dutch payment apps, how the Dutch behave at birthday parties and even Dutch snacks.
If you want to improve your Dutch listening skills while also learning something about the Netherlands, this is a great podcast.
Next up is Echt Gebeurd, which literally means “really happened,” but in spoken Dutch is used to say something along the lines of “I swear this really happened.”
As you can probably guess, this podcast features stories of regular people that have experienced weird or extraordinary things.
Before you start thinking it’s all about UFOs or crying Mary statues, this can be just about anything, from odd coincidences to people getting a spooky suspicion that turned out to be right.
There’s hundreds of episodes and they’re really fun to listen to.
However, I haven’t included it purely for entertainment value. The other strength of Echt Gebeurd for learners is that it’s the people themselves telling their stories, not actors.
As such, it’s a great way to get used to different ways Dutch is spoken, from personal idiosyncrasies to the different Dutch dialects.
From crusty farmers to fresh young students, all manner of people tell their story and I heartily recommend you check it out.
Yous & Yay: New Emotions
If you like the idea of listening to a diverse group of people, then Yous & Yay: New Emotions is a great podcast.
It features the two musicians Yous & Yay as they have long conversations with other musicians and artists.
The conversations are pretty interesting in and of themselves, especially if you’re into music or art, but what makes them educational is the diversity of the invitees.
Most of them will be on the younger side and speak the hip slang of the west, and many of them are also from different ethnic backgrounds and will speak differently than many of the ethnically Dutch people presenting other podcasts.
If you like music and want to understand the diversity of the modern Netherlands a little better, Yous & Yay’s podcast is a solid place to start.
Man met de Microfoon
In the last entry of podcasts with diverse voices is De Man Met de Microfoon, or the man with the microphone.
Formerly a radio journalist, the man from the title now writes and creates this entertaining and informative podcast.
I really like this podcast because with his many years of experience, the presenter just knows what works and he does a great job combining old-school narrative journalism using modern methods.
Most of his episodes are about things of interest in and around Amsterdam, featuring the people involved. Examples include love stories sent in by listeners, but also a reported piece on an abandoned bar.
Since real people are involved, listening to this podcast is like inviting Amsterdam itself over. It features all manner of people, from people speaking Amsterdam dialect to the highly educated.
It’s a great way to get a slice of life of the Dutch capital, and you’ll likely learn something listening to it.
De Universiteit van Nederland
If you like popular science, you’ll love De Universiteit van Nederland, which translates as the university of Holland. It’s a series of TV programs and short podcasts that go over small scientific questions you may encounter in your daily life.
Examples include things like wondering how greedy people really are, getting an idea of how the brain works, or even just mathematical conundrums.
It’s a really interesting concept, and it’s made better by the fact that the people presenting it are the actual professors who teach these subjects. No hackneyed presenters here.
Because of this, the level of Dutch can be quite high, though many presenters will keep it a little folksy to make it accessible.
If you want to know more about the world we live in while sharpening your Dutch skills, this is an excellent podcast.
If you’re less into popular science and more into hard news, then De Dag (“the day”) by national public broadcaster NPO1 is the podcast for you.
Every day, a new episode is released that goes into some depth on the most important topic of the day, chosen by the program’s editors.
Currently, in September 2022, many episodes concern the gas crisis and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but there’s plenty of national stories, too.
NPO1 is considered the very best news station on Dutch radio, and the quality of De Dag is pretty high as a result.
There’s no hot takes, it is in-depth discussion of what’s going on with experts who know what they’re talking about.
As a result, it’s not the easiest program to follow for language learners, but with some patience (and let’s face it, some rewinding of the stream) you’ll get through it.
It’s not the easiest way to learn Dutrch, but it’s definitely a great way to sharpen your skills.
Our next entry is a Flemish counterpart of De Dag, DS Vandaag, which is a similar podcast published by Belgium’s top Dutch-language newspaper, De Standaard (hence, “DS”).
Like De Dag, it goes into some depth of the day’s top story, which may not always be a national one.
The big difference for language learners is that DS Vandaag is in Flemish, a slightly softer, more melodious form of Dutch spoken in northern Belgium.
The two types of Dutch can differ greatly in some cases, though the written language is almost identical.
If you’re only just getting to know Flemish but already know some Dutch, this podcast is great because the presenters and guests will speak in a way that’s pretty easy to follow.
If you’re still in the beginning phase, it’ll likely be a little harder to follow, but you can get a feel for the language, as well as learn the news stories that are keeping the Belgians occupied.
The last of the news-y entries is SBS Dutch, a very interesting podcast by Australian broadcaster SBS, which is also active in the Netherlands.
SBS Dutch offers several episodes every day, covering both news from the Netherlands, Australia and the world.
In one episode you can hear about Dutch elections, floods in Queensland and famine in Africa, all of it in Dutch.
The program was started to help the small Dutch-speaking population of Australia keep in touch, but now serves as a great way to pick up Dutch for foreigners, Australians especially.
Production values are high and the news reporting is pretty good, especially for the Australian stories.
This is a great pick for anybody that likes Australian news and is learning Dutch at the same time. Not a huge group, but still pretty interesting stuff, even if you only listen to it once in a while.
Op Z’n Vlaams
I’ll finish up with a really nice Belgian podcast called op z’n Vlaams (“in the Flemish way”), which talks about the many idiosyncrasies of the Flemish language.
The subjects discussed go from comparing Flemish and Dutch as a whole to talking about small, regional dialects and vocabularies.
The presenter is great: he speaks quietly but clearly and you’ll learn a lot in a very short time about how Flemish works and how it came to be.
I found it an enchanting listen when I discovered it, and I think you will, too.
If you want to know more about this interesting dialect, then this podcast is a must-listen.
That’s my list of the best Dutch language podcasts out there. I hope you find something you like.
Good luck learning Dutch! 🇳🇱
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