Reasons to learn Dutch. We have all been there. Perhaps one of the most important decisions you will make during your time in The Netherlands. Are you going to learn Dutch? It’s a question we all ask ourselves. Do we need to learn Dutch? Will I ever make it? How much will it cost? Am I even able to learn a language? I am well placed to know as I asked myself these very questions many times. The easy excuse is that all the Dutch speak fluent English. Well…it might seem like that, but what if they didn’t? So why is learning Dutch not only a good idea but a great idea! And in this Q+A, co-written with NEDLES we will tell you why learning Dutch is a must and will improve your life in many ways.
There are many reasons to learn Dutch. The thing is that when you first arrive in NL, you quickly learn that you do not need to learn Dutch. Due to that, many people (including myself) do not sign up for Dutch lessons. I get it, I really do. With this article, I hope to convince you that learning Dutch is easy. Also, we can see how it will improve your experience of living in The Netherlands in every way. The moment I realised I could do it was when a Dutch lady pointed out that English and Dutch are very similar. And once I realised that, it instantly made learning Dutch easier. I now see similarities in the two languages all the time. Now when I go to shops and restaurants, I talk in Dutch.
They know I am not Dutch. Some reply in English, I accept that will happen all the time. I reply in Dutch. It is the best way to make progress. The more I talk, the more mistakes I make, but the more I improve. It’s a simple as that. My confidence then grows, I learn from my errors and I find myself talking more and more in Dutch. I understand the adverts and the news. I understand it when people start talking to me. So, here is a Q+A with more experienced people about the reasons for learning Dutch. Thanks to the Dutch teachers at NEDLES for your answers.
q1. So, is Dutch difficult to learn?
We are convinced that languages are not difficult to learn, BUT it takes time and effort and of course, motivation is a very important element. Obviously, for a speaker of German, it is easier than for a speaker of Japanese to learn Dutch, so the difficulty also depends on your mother tongue and the other languages you know.
q2. In essence, why should we expats and internationals learn Dutch?
We know that you can survive very well with English (especially in Amsterdam) but we think it is important to learn the language of the country you live in. Probably you do not need it for work, but if you want to have a social circle with also Dutch people, if you have children that go to a Dutch school that have Dutch friends, if you want to understand the news, if you want to be part of a football/volleyball/book club, we think it is important to learn the language!
q3. What do your clients who you taught to speak Dutch tell you about how it changed things for them?
A lot of them say: I wish I had done it earlier! They just do. It’s quite normal really. You get by in English for a while, but after a while, you realise that learning Dutch has lots and lots of advantages. Also, it looks great on your CV…just one of the many reasons to learn Dutch.
q4. I am a big believer in classroom and group learning online. What would you say to people who have not been in an educational setting since they were at school? They might feel embarrassed speaking Dutch in Public.
From the first lesson, everyone in the class will start making their first sentences, so everyone is on the same boat! It is clear from the beginning that mistakes are there to learn from.
q5. What are your top tips for making progress in Dutch?
Try to surround yourself with as much Dutch as possible: listen to people speaking Dutch on the tram, switch the settings of your phone to Dutch, try to read advertisements on the street, make your grocery list in Dutch etcetera. When you meet new Dutch people, START your ‘relationship’ in Dutch! It is very difficult to switch to Dutch when you are used to speaking English to someone. If you have a Dutch partner, start with speaking Dutch for 10 minutes per day and slowly extend that. Final tip: speak Dutch to yourself while walking/biking on the street: Dat is een boom. Ik zie een met een hond. De man heeft een rugzak. Obviously, you can adapt this to your own level.
So there you have it. There are so many reasons to learn Dutch. Imagine how nice it will be in one year’s time if you start now….. It changes so many things in a positive way.
Thanks to Renske at NEDLES for these insights.
You can learn more about NEDLES and their Dutch lessons here.
We have a Nedles splash page here too.