I grew up watching prestigious movie awards. In fact, this may be where my true love of film started as I would always go off and research the nominated movies and try to find a way to watch them. All I knew was that any film with a nomination was one of the best films. I didn’t mind the genre or if it was a feature film, independent film, short film or indie film. I did, however, enjoy remarkable creativity in film, that could inspire diverse ideas within me.

Why Use Dutch Films And Movies To Learn A Language

It wasn’t until much later that I stumbled upon the brilliant coincidence of learning a language with feature-length martial arts DVDs (staring the legendary Bruce Lee). I had always watched the martial arts genre of movies with my family, at that time most of the films were in their native language of Mandarin Chinese with awful subtitles that put a spotlight on how different the languages were.

One day I noticed that I could understand parts of the movie when I wasn’t even looking at the screen. It was a surreal moment when I realised that education is not just what we receive in school. Although an experimental idea, I grew up celebrating the fact that everything around us is an opportunity to learn.

Arguably Chinese is one of the harder languages to learn to speak. So if it works for Chinese, it will definitely work for Dutch. While watching films to learn Dutch, you don’t want just to watch passively, although passive watching works too, but takes longer. Instead, you need to get active and engage with the film.

The great thing about using something as entertaining as a film to learn a new language is that you will definitely enjoy the process. Learning and having fun seems to be mutually exclusive but they should work together. Because when you enjoy something you allow yourself to supercharge your brain into full engagement.

Active learning will supercharge your Dutch
Don't just sit back and watch, you need to be active. Photo Source: Unsplash

The Benefits Of Watching Dutch Language Films

While most of us love to watch movies, the vast majority of us do so in our native language. When faced with the option of watching a movie or film in our native language or the original language with subtitles. Most of us would pick to watch in our native language, often because we don’t want to mix reading with our enjoyment of the film.

But actually, once you start watching films entirely subtitled in your native language. The eye reads automatically, and after a while, you hardly realise that you are reading at all. This is one of the benefits of watching movies and films to support you with learning a new language. As your eye automatically reads your brain begins to associate the words with the sounds that it is hearing via the audio.

The best way to learn a language, without doubt, is to live in the country and be immersed in the language and culture. But when that isn't convenient, spending your evenings watching movies in the native language is a great way to immerse yourself in the language and fast track your learning.

Dutch cinema which is based in the Netherlands is tiny, and there is almost no market outside of the country for Dutch made movies. Because of this many movies are made using funding from various sources such as the Netherland film fund (Wikipedia).

However just because the film industry is relatively small, it hasn’t stopped the Netherlands from hosting their own film festivals which run throughout the year. Most of the most recognized festivals are held in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. While these don't have the popularity that the Oscars or the Cannes international film festival have. They are still full of talented films that showcase gifted actors, filmmakers and directors who really do deserve to be highlighted and celebrated internationally as well.

The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) focuses entirely on showcasing documentary films, this festival has international acclaim so is an excellent opportunity for Dutch filmmakers to present their documentary to the world. This is where you will find some of the best documentaries.

The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) celebrates and showcases independent filmmakers who make unique feature films, short films and motion pictures. The film production is artistic and presents the true diversity of dialogue and expression

The Nederlands Film Festival (NFF) recognizes the talented independent film maker and storyteller in an epic 7 days of film. Actors, Crew and well everyone who worked on the film gets recognised here. This is a genuine opportunity to celebrate award-winning films. This festival is supporting films that deserve to be seen on a world stage. This festival is held in Amsterdam.

The Best Ways To Learn Dutch With Movies And Film

Learning to speak Dutch with Movies and films is fantastic, fun and alternative way to learn a language. If you enjoy watching Dutch video, then this could be an excellent way for you to integrate something that you love into your language learning routine.

Check the best Dutch language learning apps.

  1. Find a Dutch movie that you like and watch it with the subtitle on in English
  2. Watch the same movie again with the subtitles in Dutch and the audio in English
  3. As you improve in your understanding of Dutch watch the film in Dutch with Dutch subtitles
  4. Don’t just watch the movie, be an active learner and read the Dutch captions, pause the movie and practice your pronunciation.
  5. Break the Dutch film into chunks, focus on learning each chunk slowly
  6. Using your whole body and being active is very important when learning, so speak out loud, get up and act the pieces out as if you were in the movie.
learn to speak Dutch with Dutch films
Dutch films are a great resource to support your learning. Photo Source: Unsplash

Where To Find The Best Films To Learn To Speak Dutch

When we think about trying to find Dutch films it can put a spotlight on how little we know about international movies. But you don’t have to have these struggles, when searching for Dutch dubbed, subtitled or natively made Dutch films. We can use the locations of our native language films as a clue of where to look.

  1. Dutch cinematic films could be found in your local art house or indie cinema
  2. Film awards for Dutch movies could be found at your cities annual international film festival
  3. You can check the film festival Dutch nominees, Dutch winners, and Dutch screened films from last year and follow the filmmaker and their film on the internet. Becoming one of their viewers or supporters could get you access to new filmed content.
  4. Dutch speaking theatres are more likely to be found in native speaking countries or in opera, but you may be able to find a touring company.
  5. A Dutch exhibition in a gallery or museum may have an area where they stream the artist's
  6. Streaming films on Netflix make it easy to access, world cinema and films
  7. YouTube and Vimeo have millions of videos starring native Dutch speakers who upload filmed clips and allow you to subscribe and become a fan for free.

Often, during my Dutch lessons London, my teacher gives us a heads-up about new titles to watch for!

Examples Of Great Movies To Learn Dutch

Paul Verhoeven is a Dutch director, screenwriter and filmmaker, although you may not know his name, he is one of the most famous and well known Dutch directors. He has made a long list of hugely popular movies in both English and Dutch.

Total Recall

Filmed in the 90's this film is a sci-fi about conspiracy and interplanetary politics. Schwarzenegger is the lead, Verhoeven makes this sci-fi into an action-packed adventure which has cult status for many film fans. Even though this is an old film, it is definitely an enjoyable way to learn Dutch if you can find it.

The Black Book

This is one of Verhoeven's best films based on WW2. This thriller was filmed in the Netherlands and was awarded the best Dutch film of all time. The film follows a spy of Jewish descent who infiltrates the Gestapo.

learn Dutch through moving picture
The very best ways to learn Dutch, include Dutch movies. Photo Source: Unsplash

How To Learn Dutch On Netflix

Netflix has a massive catalogue of movies, and it can be hard to find what you are looking for at times. A quick hack for finding your Dutch film is to enter the following URL and then add the country code for the Netherlands at the end of the URL, and you should see the list of videos on Netflix with Dutch audio www.netflix.co.uk/browse/audio/NL

While this trick may not work for everyone, it is worth looking for the films in Dutch on Netflix. As it is a fantastic resource for finding movies and films in the original native language with audio and subtitles available in Dutch for many movies and films.

Sometimes when we are learning, we don’t want to experiment. But learning using different mediums is not an emerging way to learn. It has been the focus of how we have acquired language for centuries and is how we have mastered our own native languages.

Using music, movies, books and other alternative media can give you a head start in your language learning journey. Because it allows you to surround yourself in Dutch language and the more often that you can do this. The easier it will become when producing Dutch words, phrases.

Quiet your inner critic and give this a try.

Need a Dutch teacher?

Did you like this article?

3.00/5 - 2 vote(s)


Ava is a dedicated world traveller, motivated to see, explore and experience the world and culture first hand. She has followed her dream of travel to over 80 countries worldwide and also excitedly pursues her other hobbies of yoga, painting, and photography.