The importance of Dutch grammar exercises
If you are learning Dutch it is extremely important to combine different ways of learning the language. Many Dutch language learners start with using DUOlingo or comparable apps and tools and there is nothing wrong with that. It is a great way to build a base.
But as soon as you have a little vocabulary build up, you will need two essential things, whatever your learning style is.
1. Dutch grammar exercises and explanation
Grammar is boring, you often hear. But if you are reading this thinking "well, I actually kind of like it, it is like a puzzle" you are not alone! Many language learners enjoy learning Dutch grammar and they have a good reason for it.
At soon as you have a base and are able to have little conversations in for example restaurants or at the supermarket, you can give you language a huge boost by diving into grammar and doing Dutch grammar exercises. Struggling to form correct long sentences? You need to know more about word order and conjunctions. Want to express hypothetical situations? You can't skip zou. Want to give more information about a noun? Gather info about the relative clause.
It is important to work on your Dutch grammar during the whole language process. If you skip grammar while being exposed to the language, you will understand Dutch more and more, but the gap between the active skills (writing and speaking) and passive skills (listening and reading) will grow bigger. You might build up a big (passive) vocabulary, but you will find yourself struggling when you want to form a story. Dutch exercises and steady vocabulary build up can give you a base to hold on to.
2. Real life Dutch
Apart from making Dutch exercises it is important to work on your read, listen, write and speaking skills. Whether you are living in The Netherlands or abroad, you need to find opportunities to work on your Dutch is real life. Read stories, watch Dutch television and if you have someone in your surroundings speaking Dutch, speak Dutch! There is no better Dutch exercise than talking with people in real life. These moments will help you finding your strengths and weaknesses and will guide your process. And not less important: it will be fun experiencing how well you can already communicate and how this skill develops!
Many Dutch students have Dutch partners or Dutch friends, but keep talking in English. Avoid that. We won't say it will be easy. It will be hard and tiring not being able to express yourself 100% correctly when you have had a long work day or are in a hurry, but it is the way to fluency. The first weeks will be hard, but living in Dutch will so rapidly increase you skill, that you will soon not even remember whether a conversation took place in Dutch, English or another language. It will feel natural either way.
Combine your vocabulary growth with Dutch grammar exercises and real-life material. Keep working on your Dutch! The Dutch Online Academy offers the Dutch exercises and explanations you are looking for.