Language & Culture

How can I learn the Dutch language?

Dutch can be a difficult language to master depending on your mother tongue. We advise to start at an easy level and work your way up. The best way to learn Dutch is by exposing yourself to the language as much as possible. Listen to the conversations arround you, watch Dutch tv or news or listen to a simple podcast. A few options to learn the language online are using Netflix with Dutch subtitles or watching movies in Dutch or by following Youtube Channels that focus on this subject.

How to integrate in the Culture?

It might come as no surprise that learning the Dutch language will greatly improve your chances to integrate into the culture. The Dutch are generally not conversation starters and tend to keep to themselves. However, they will usually respond eagerly and immediatly when addressed.
Trying to plan an appointment with a Dutch person can be a bit of a challenge as they will always consult their agenda before making a plan. Surprise visits are generally not apreciated so be sure to announce or plan a visit beforehand.

  • Podcasts are a great on-the-go way to learn languages. With the podcast “Laura Speaks Dutch” you will also learn about Dutch culture. Can be found here.

  • Certain roles will require that you are able to speak Dutch, such as dentists, doctors and roles that require constant interaction therefore learning Dutch is not always required, but can be helpful.

    We do recommend learning the language once you arrive in the Netherlands as it makes it much easier to network, make friends and later on become a dutch citizen.

    Regarding learning Dutch we have gathered information in a PDF about courses and the levels you can achieve. This information can be found here.

  • The difficulty level differs per person and depends on your native level. For English speakers Dutch is relatively easy to learn as many words (like colours & fruits) are very similar to English.

    Regarding learning Dutch we have gathered information in a PDF about courses and the levels you can achieve. This information can be found here.

  • You can use your credit card in many occasions, but we do recommend acquiring a debit card. Not every restaurant offers a credit card payment option and smaller supermarkets generally only accept cash or debit cards.

  • The Netherlands has a maritime (oceanic) climate, which makes for mild winters and generally cool summers. There is no dry season and it rain is common troughout the year.

    If you are used to a warmer climate it is advisable to bring a good winter coat for the autumn and winter seasons. The summers can vary between 25º – 40º Celcius.

  • When introducing yourself in formal situations always state both first and last name and shake hands with everyone in the room. In informal situations stating your first name is enough.

    In Dutch culture you greet women in your immediate circle of friends or family with three kisses on the cheek (right-left-right). This doesn’t apply to expats, so shakings hands is fine as an alternative.

  • The average Dutch person loves complaining about the weather, which is known to be ‘fickle’ in the Netherlands. You will find conversation often involve the weather and people might start a conversation about the weather at the bus stop or in the train.

  • The Netherlands is often referred to as ‘Holland’ in other countries. The official name of the country is ‘The Kingdom of the Netherlands’. Holland actually only refers to the two provinces of North-Holland and South-Holland.

  • The Dutch are known for their directness and direct eye-contact during a conversation. You might notice a Dutch person would openly criticise or disagree with someone’s point of view. This doens’t mean he or she has ill intent, it is just the way Dutch people are used to conversing with each other.

  • In the Netherlands you will find a lot of religious buildings such as churches and mosques. Despite being quite secular, only a small percent of Dutch people attend services regularly.

Other resources to learn Dutch

Here are a few (paid) resources beyond standard Dutch courses to learn the language that may help you too:

  • LingQ is an online language-learning community and also offers additional content.
  • Rosetta Stone is a language-learning program and it combines interactive language writing and speaking exercises.
  • MeetUp gives you the opportunity to connect with people in big cities who share your interest in learning Dutch or would like a language conversation partner.
  • DuoLingo is a relatively easy way to pick up some Dutch words. Although we wouldn’t recommend it to try and learn everything, it can be a good start for your vocabulary.
  • Free children books or other simple Dutch books can often be found in ‘bookspots’ in bigger train stations like Utrecht Centraal. All it requires is exchanging it with a book of your own.

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