Map of Dutch speaking countries (source: Wikipedia)
Dutch is closely related to German and English. It shares with German a similar word order, having grammatical gender, and a largely Germanic vocabulary, it has however — like English — mostly abandoned the grammatical case system, does not use Germanic umlaut as a grammatical marker, and has levelled much of its morphology.
Dutch spelling is quite easy and also regular verbs are fairly easy to conjugate. Irregular verbs are more difficult to remember and need to be learned by hard. Dutch nouns have either neuter or common gender. The gender is displayed by using definite articles like ‘de’ for the common gender and ‘het’ for the neuter one. There is also an indefinite article ‘een’ that is used in a similar way as the English 'a/an'.
Dutch vocabulary is similar to the English and even more to the German one. Probably for this reason is Dutch said to be the easiest language to learn for English natives. Just consider the following sentence in Dutch: Wat is jouw favoriete drankje? It seems very much like the English: What is your favourite drink? Hence, Dutch is relatively easy to pick up, understand and start speaking for English natives. Furthermore, learning Dutch will allow you to better understand the other Germanic languages and even provide you with some insight into how English works.
The best way to learn Dutch, as much as any language, is by total immersion. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to spend a longer period of time in the Netherlands. However, you can start your immersion already now with vocabulary stickers. Also, you can start to try to read Dutch newspapers.
Also, you can watch some Dutch TV or movies and listen to Dutch music. Enrolling in a language course is the next best thing. Once you feel a bit more familiar with the language, a visit to the Netherlands will help you enormously to get the feel for the language, especially with the pronunciation.
Dutch sounds like a difficult language to learn, but it really isn’t. It just might sound because of the pronunciation of 'g' as 'ch'. You can try right away with these basic phrases.