Which English-Dutch dictionary is the best?
With only 60,000 words, Dutch is often touted as one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn. Strongly associated with Germanic languages, it features some of the longest compound words and many complicated pronunciations. For this reason, to study this language you will need a good English-Dutch dictionary.
When you’re ready to get serious about learning Dutch, you only need one dictionary: the new Routledge & Van Dale Dutch Dictionary: Dutch-English/English-Dutch. With over 33,000 words and phrases, it will help you quickly increase your vocabulary.
What to know before buying an English to Dutch dictionary
There is more than one type of dictionary format to choose from, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
- Electronic dictionaries are compact and easy to carry with you, but you’ll need spare batteries or a power source to ensure it doesn’t go out when you need it most. And these are often static – you’ll have to buy an update as the language changes or words are added.
- Dictionaries available in an application are similar to an electronic dictionary but may have other useful features for language learning (eg interactive features and native pronunciations). The downside of an app is that you will need a powered device, and apps connected to an internet signal may not be 100% reliable.
- Print dictionaries are on standby. They do not require power and can be pocket-sized and portable. However, they need to be replaced as the language evolves and there are no pronunciation hearing aids.
Objectives for language learning
You will need to identify your language learning goals to select the best English-Dutch dictionary for you. Are you looking to gain fluidity? Have a simple conversation? Surviving a fast weekend in a Dutch-speaking country?
There are dictionaries that specialize in each of these goals and can help you achieve them faster.
If you need a dictionary primarily for travel, you will need a pocket dictionary. However, for home study or as an addition to your personal library, a large hardcover reference is preferable.
What to look for in a quality English-Dutch dictionary
Companion audio helps you train your ear for the language you are learning. If the dictionary you select comes with audio available, make sure it has native Dutch speakers. This gives you a better idea of how the language should sound when you speak it.
Simple and clear definitions
Nothing is more frustrating than having to look up words in a definition to understand the definition. Look for dictionaries with simple, easy-to-understand definitions.
Building fluency requires understanding grammar. Even pocket dictionaries have short grammar guides that help you learn the rules for faster language acquisition.
Basic English-Dutch dictionaries can include pictures to illustrate difficult concepts. These are usually reserved for young language learners, but some apps also use illustrations.
Help with conversations
Short and simple conversations help learners navigate simple conversations. Introductions and commands in restaurants are common in many English-Dutch dictionaries.
How much you can expect to spend on an English-Dutch dictionary
Depending on the size and type of dictionary, expect to spend as little as $5 and up to $150.
English-Dutch Dictionary FAQ
Is Dutch an easy language to learn?
A. Although Dutch shares some similarities with English (and has fewer words), pronunciation is very difficult. For this reason, Dutch is difficult to learn. This is compounded by the fact that many Dutch people in the Netherlands are fluent in English and prefer to speak English with native speakers. It can be difficult to find a Dutch speaker to train with.
How long does it take to learn Dutch?
A. The time frame varies, but the US Foreign Service Institute says it takes about six months of intensive study (totalling 600 hours) to master Dutch.
Can you learn a language just by using a dictionary?
A. No. A language’s lexicon—its words—is only one part. While you can certainly use a dictionary to expand your vocabulary and understand some basics, it’s best to use a variety of language learning resources, including a dictionary, conversation tapes, reference books, and interactions with native speakers.
What are the best English-Dutch dictionaries to buy?
Top English to Dutch dictionary
The new Routledge & Van Dale Dutch dictionary: Dutch-English/English-Dutch
What do you want to know: Navigate through Western Europe with this handy multilingual phrasebook and dictionary.
What you will love: It’s a two-way dictionary with over 33,000 entries that include both colloquialisms and idioms. The layout is clear and easy to use, and there are phonetic pronunciation aids.
What you should consider: It is vast but expensive.
Or buy: Sold by Amazon
Best English-Dutch dictionary for the money
The Rough Guide to Dutch Dictionary Phrasebook 3
What do you want to know: This book has been written to help you navigate daily life in the Netherlands.
What you will love: This phrasebook was recorded by native speakers. It is pocket-sized and contains translations from Dutch to English and from English to Dutch. Download the audio files to hear the exact pronunciations. It also has a grammar section.
What you should consider: It’s not very in-depth and is only useful in specific scenarios.
Or buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Lingo Mastery Easy Dutch Phrase Book
What do you want to know: Use this book to help you quickly learn conversational Dutch.
What you will love: It contains more than 1,500 common expressions and their translation. It has phonetic pronunciation keys, as well as a detailed explanation of how to pronounce vowels and single consonants (and the most common combinations).
What you should consider: Some people were confused by the inclusion of pronunciation guides.
Or buy: Sold by Amazon
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Suzannah Kolbeck written for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their buying decisions, saving them time and money.
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