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Learn Afrikaans

Afrikaans may not be the world’s most widely spoken language, but it is a rewarding one. With its relatively easy grammar and pronunciation, you’ll quickly be able to express yourself in conversation. And if you’re planning to travel to South Africa or have an interest in its history, understanding Afrikaans will give you extra insight into the culture.

Explore how to learn Afrikaans, how to learn Afrikaans fast, and discover the best way and easiest way to learn the language. Start learning Afrikaans now!

Just over 7 million people speak Afrikaans as their first language. Most of these live in South Africa and Namibia, but it’s also spoken in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and many other places around the world (including, curiously, a small community in Patagonia, Argentina).

So if you’re wondering how to learn Afrikaans, keep reading: we’ve included a few pointers to help you know what to expect and prepare yourself accordingly as you start learning Afrikaans.

About the Afrikaans Language

Most people already know a few words in common European and Asian languages, from bonjour in French to sushi in Japanese.

You might be surprised to find out, however, that you also know a couple of Afrikaans words. There’s aardvark, which translates to “earth pig,” and meerkat, which means “lake cat.”

And then there is apartheid, meaning “apartness.”

It’s impossible to discuss Afrikaans without touching on colonialism, the slave trade, and apartheid. A daughter language of Dutch, it was born out of the European Scramble for Africa. It’s also influenced by Portuguese, German, and French; the indigenous Khoisan and Bantu languages; and the Asian languages spoken by enslaved people in Africa.

Historically looked down on as “kitchen Dutch,” it was only in 1925 that Afrikaans was legally considered as valid as Dutch and English. This meant that teachers could finally use it in mainstream schools – although Muslim schools had already been using it instead of Malay for over a century.

Just decades later, in 1974, South Africans of color would find themselves forced to speak Afrikaans instead of their native language. This continued throughout apartheid, resulting in protests, police violence, and deaths.

Today, Afrikaans remains possibly the most controversial of South Africa’s 11 official languages. Many activists of color support the use of English in academia, even though only 40% of those who speak Afrikaans at home are white.

Yet while it may be controversial, Afrikaans is a vibrant language. According to the 2011 census, it is South Africa’s third most spoken-at-home language. It’s also spoken in several other African countries. Politicians use it, as do artists and comedians. Films, books, and songs are all written and produced in it.

For millions of people around the world, Afrikaans represents their identity, history, and culture.

How to Learn Afrikaans

We’ve got some good news for you: Afrikaans is a relatively easy language. If you already speak Dutch, German, or English, many words and phrases will seem familiar.

Since Afrikaans is spelled phonetically, you won’t need to add pronunciation notes to all your flashcards. You will benefit from drilling “r” and “g” pronunciation, however, along with diphthongs. You can get started with that here.

Ignore the myth that there are no irregular verbs in Afrikaans: even “wees,” or “to be,” is irregular. However, since only a few verbs break the rules, you’ll be able to learn them quickly.

Making it even easier, the verbs don’t decline, i.e. they don’t change depending on the speaker (“I am/you are/it is…”). And while Afrikaans has gendered pronouns, there is no grammatical gender. Like in English, you can say “she sits,” but the chair she sits on will be neither male nor female.

The best way to learn Afrikaans will depend on your goals, personality, and how much spare time you have. Is your aim to travel in South Africa or make friends there? You’ll probably want to focus on speaking and listening. Alternatively, if you want to read the news in Afrikaans or talk to online friends, prioritize reading and writing.

How much spare time do you have? If possible, practice daily. A little every day is better than three hours once a week, especially if you’re aiming for spoken fluency.

It’s important to use the tools that best suit you. Someone else’s favorite app may bore you, while popular South African TV shows might fail to make you laugh. Find things that you like, such as music and films, so that you stay motivated.

That being said, you’ll probably want some balance in your Afrikaans studies. Drill vocabulary with flashcards, keep a diary to improve your fluency, and practice your listening frequently – especially if you can’t spend a lot of time with native speakers.

Read aloud to focus on your pronunciation. Experiment with different language-learning resources until you find the ones that work for you (and remember that these might change as your level of Afrikaans improves).

And most importantly of all, stay positive. Keep track of your progress and don’t let a bad day affect your self-confidence.

What’s the Best Way to Learn Afrikaans?

The best way to learn Afrikaans depends on your learning style. Do you like games and visual content? You may find that an app-based course like Ling’s Afrikaans course works well. If you need accountability, try working with a tutor. If you love self-directed study, you can piece together your own curriculum using the many resources in this article.

Of course, if you can afford to live in South Africa for a while, you can dive into the deep end and force yourself to communicate in Afrikaans to speed up your learning process through true immersion!

What’s the Easiest Way to Learn Afrikaans?

For most people, the easiest way to learn Afrikaans is to surround yourself with the language. Even if you can’t live with people who speak Afrikaans daily, you can watch Afrikaans TV shows instead of your regular Netflix content. 

You can read Afrikaans news websites, try out conversation blogs or online forums, and try cooking South African food to inspire yourself with a taste of South African culture.

Of course, you should still devote time every day to regular study, too!

How Long Does it Take to Learn Afrikaans?

Learning any language takes time and dedication. The good news is that the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) ranks Afrikaans as one of the easiest languages for an English speaker to learn, requiring roughly 600 hours of dedicated study time.

This means that if you can put in a steady hour a day, you could speak fluently in Afrikaans in about a year and a half! Of course, this is an average. If you already speak Dutch, you will probably learn Afrikaans way faster. If you have a close friend or family member who speaks Afrikaans and is willing to practice with you, that will also speed up your learning time.

How to Learn Afrikaans Fast

One of the best ways to learn Afrikaans fast is to book one to two hours every day for dedicated study time. If this sounds difficult, try doing a 15-minute audit of your daily activities for a week. Then block out any chunks of free time you notice in your regular activities.

Working through an App-based course or studying with a tutor daily like this will help you advance much more quickly than trying to cram in hours of study on the weekend. Consistent, repetitive practice will help your brain adapt to the new language very quickly.

Local Media Resources for Learning Afrikaans

Providing you like the songs and are motivated enough to look up the lyrics, music can help you learn new vocabulary and practice your listening. Just make sure that a phrase isn’t poetic license before you use it in conversation!

Start with playlists to find the songs and artists you like. If you have Spotify, try this, this, this, and this one. None of these to your liking? Use the search function to find Afrikaans playlists in your favorite musical genres, from rock to gospel.

You can also increase your vocabulary and learn more about South African or Namibian culture by reading the news. Try Maroela Media,, Beeld, NetWerk24, and Die Vryburger.

Once you start learning Afrikaans, you’ll discover that there are plenty of opportunities to speak and read it. So, what are you waiting for? Start scrolling, adding your new vocabulary to Ankidroid, and exploring South African books, movies, and songs. Jy kan dit doen!

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