Initially, I developed this 'tutorial' for my partner. I used to write long explanations on old-fashioned paper, which I later organized into Word documents. By the time I had a broadband internet connection at home, I had a pile of Word documents on my pc.
Today, www.dutchgrammar.com has grown into an interactive website that covers much more than just a grammar reference. On this page, you can read how those pieces of paper turned into this rather comprehensive website.
2003 - "www.dutchgrammar.com" is born
I never had the intention to create a 'Learn Dutch portal', I simply wanted to experiment a bit with html and web design and the Word documents provided me with some ready-made content.
When I had created a basic online Dutch grammar tutorial, I asked related websites to link to mine and the number of visitors to dutchgrammar.com gradually increased. I started to receive e-mails with feedback or questions about Dutch grammar and I was amazed by the idea that I could actually help people from all parts of the world just by placing some stuff on a website!
2005 - Launch of the Dutch Grammar Forum
By 2005, the e-mail correspondence with Dutch learners was taking a lot of my time and although I enjoyed communicating by e-mail, I thought it would be much more efficient to communicate on a public forum. So in August 2005, I added a forum to this website.
This has proved to be an excellent decision as the forum was not only more efficient and fun, it also enabled other Dutch native speakers to offer help and/or share their expertise. Although the community of Dutch learners keeps changing, there are a few forum members who have been around since the beginning and who keep inspiring other members with their enthusiasm. Examples are EetSmakelijk, who has her own website www.eetsmakelijk.net or Dora, who took the initiative to create the first Dutch Grammar Podcast made exclusively by non-native speakers (podcast episode #20, which you find under the audio tab on the top of this screen).
From a one-woman job, the website turned into an interactive community, something that went far beyond anything I had ever expected from the simple website I launched in 2003.
2006 - Introduction of The Dutch Grammar Podcast
The grammar pages already provided Dutch learners with mp3 sound files but there was clearly a demand for more. That is why I started a 'Dutch Grammar Podcast'. Each episode of The Dutch Grammar Podcast lets you listen to a a short story, a poem, a conversation, pronunciation drills, or a song. The first podcasts were created by me with the help of some friends who were ready to record something for the podcast. Soon, though, the people from the forum started contributing and today, the podcast has become a virtual co-operaton between native as well as non-native speakers.
In 2004, I received an e-mail from a Cuban engineer, who offered to translate the website into Spanish. By this, Martín initiated the first step into virtual co-operation on this website. To encourage more people to offer their own input, I added a 'how you can help' page where I asked people to help out with proofreading and translating. I received a great response and I have a few loyal proofreaders who safeguard the quality of the content and sometimes prevent me from making an utter fool of myself. Joke must be mentioned separately, as she is the only one who has scrutinously gone through every single page and who keeps sending me feedback on every new page that I add.
2007 - Wiki system for translators and editors
The response from translators has been overwhelming. At a certain point, I had a stack of translations in Word documents that I could not process (convert into web pages) because it simply became too much work. I even had to turn down offers from translators. Then, I stumbled upon an easy to implement Wiki system PmWiki) that enables editors (translators) to add content to this website with only minimal intervention from my side.
As of today (April 2007), this system has only just been introduced and I see great possibilities to enhance the interactive character of this website in other ways as well.
The original purpose of this course
As I mentioned in the beginning, the reason why I started this website is my partner. So what about his level of Dutch? Did this course help him? I am happy to say that my partner is now proficient in both writing and speaking Dutch. To what extent my grammar explanation helped him, I do not know as mastering a language, of course, requires much more than learning the grammar rules alone.
Using this website
The point I am making is that the grammar section on this website serves as an aid to learning the Dutch language, in that it provides you with a an overview of the grammar rules. However, you will have to look actively for opportunities to practice your skills.
Visit the forum to get in touch with Dutch speakers or to try the exercises made by native and non-native speakers, listen to the podcasts in the audio section and check out the links on the links page for other online resources (e.g. online Dutch courses, Dutch media Radio and TV, or Dutch podcasts).
If you did not buy an English-Dutch (preferably both ways) dictionary yet, I suggest you buy one soon. Otherwise, consult the more limited but free online dictionaries, such as www.interglot.com. Among the free online dictionaries, this is probably one of the best options.
Remember that it takes time, effort and persistence to learn a language. Sometimes, you may feel you are not progressing very much. Bear in mind that this frustration is a necessary part of learning. Only those who recognize and accept that will succeed.
Ik wens je veel succes.