Learning the Dutch language

If you are considering taking on a job in the Netherlands during or after your studies, it is recommended to know the basics of the Dutch language. Some knowledge of Dutch is in fact a requirement for most positions, even for jobs at multinational companies. Most international students experience that learning Dutch can be quite a challenge. Therefore, we strongly recommend to start learning Dutch soon after your arrival in the Netherlands.

Ways to learn Dutch  

There are various ways to improve your Dutch. Which option works best for you strongly depends on your level of Dutch, your budget and on how much time you have.

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Language courses

Language and Training Centre (LTC)

The Language & Training Centre (LTC) of Erasmus University Rotterdam offers a Dutch beginner’s course with a considerable discount to all international students. The course leads to an official CEF-level and a certificate. The Language & Training Centre organises regular and intensive Dutch courses at various levels. For more information regarding the schedules, content and rates you can visit their website.

Erasmus Language sharing (ELS)  

Erasmus Language Sharing (ELS) is a student based organisation, offering a multicultural platform where students can meet, learn and share knowledge of different languages and cultures. The organisation consists of a team of student coaches, providing interactive language sessions for EUR students.

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Free online languages learning tools

Online tools certainly come in handy when you want to improve your Dutch, but you do not have the time or budget to attend a professional course.

We recommend the following apps and tools:

Learn to speak, write and understand basic Dutch, with this free, three-week, introductory language course, provided by the University of Groningen.

·        Hoi Holland! app

This serious game is your first step towards mastering the Dutch language. Hoi Holland! shows you how much fun it can be to learn Dutch!

Duolingo is a free language-learning platform. It offers over 40 different language courses across 23 languages, and is available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8.1.

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Practise

Once you’ve acquired a basic understanding of the Dutch language, it is essential to keep practising and expose yourself to the language regularly in order to increase your proficiency. Here are some suggestions:

Read and listen

Regularly read Dutch newspaper articles, or watch Dutch television:

  • The news (‘journaal’) is a good place to start, as you may have already heard about the news items they cover.

  • Dutch television channels broadcast a lot of American and British shows with Dutch subtitles. Reading the subtitles while watching the show can help you increase your Dutch vocabulary without putting too much effort in it.

If you lack confidence in actively using Dutch, try to begin with speaking in predictable, everyday situations, such as ordering food in a restaurant, asking for directions, buying food in the grocery store etc.

Socialise with Dutch people

Dutch people are likely to switch to speaking English as soon as they find out you are a foreigner (even when you address them in nearly fluent Dutch). Still, your Dutch friends are a great source of information, so let them know you would really like to practise speaking Dutch with them. We are convinced they will be delighted to help you!

Take part in a Dutch conversation group

For more advanced learners of the Dutch language who want to practice their speaking skills, joining a Dutch conversation group might be an option. Nivon Rotterdam organises weekly conversation groups for ‘nieuwe Rotterdammers’ in an informal setting, led by volunteers.

Work as a volunteer

Working as a volunteer for a Dutch organisation is a great way to find an environment in which you will have to use Dutch to communicate, and at the same time gain work experience and build your CV.

Frequently Asked Questions

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I don’t speak Dutch. Why are some employers reluctant to hire me?

Even though the English language is widely used in the Netherlands, it does not have an official status. This is why at most companies, even those operating internationally, Dutch is the main working language.