How to Learn a Pennsylvania Dutch Language

by Wendy Rose Gould

Pennsylvania Dutch, sometimes referred to as Pennsylvania German, is a language used by the Amish and Mennonites. It is similar to the German language but not identical. In many Mennonite and Amish households, both English and Pennsylvania Dutch (or Deitsch) is spoken. Learning the language can be difficult because it is spoken by such a close knit group of people. However, it is possible to learn and to even become fluent.

Hire a tutor or Pennsylvania Dutch speaker to teach you the basics. Having an actual role model in front of you who can teach you the ins and outs of the language is key to your success. If you cannot afford a private tutor, consider the next step.

Purchase books on CD or visit websites online that allow you to listen to the language. There are a number of programs available that will allow you to listen to the language being spoken and actually walk you through the basics.

Read poems, passages or even a book that is written in Pennsylvania Dutch and then translated into English (or vice versa). Comparing phrases and sentences will allow you to pick up the language more quickly. You can find these resources online or in stores.

Immerse yourself in a culture where Pennsylvania Dutch is used. Listening to the language firsthand is one of the best ways to learn it. While many Mennonite and Amish cultures tend to keep to themselves, it is possible to join with them on occasion. Attend a church ceremony, participate in a culture immersion program or visit an area that is highly populated and go to their restaurants and stores.

Items you will need

  • Tutor
  • Audio
  • Books

About the Author

Photo Credits

  • Wendy Rose Gould: www.wendygould.com