How to learn Dutch when your office speaks English
There’s no denying it: you can get by in Amsterdam without speaking Dutch. But learning the local language can open new doors and completely change your experience of living in the Netherlands. Friends and neighbours will be impressed by your effort and handling everyday matters, like going to the store or getting your bike fixed, will be much simpler.
Is learning Dutch really that important?
Even if you don’t have to speak Dutch at work, knowing the language is still incredibly helpful. You’ll be able to engage in small talk at the weekly borrel and handling lunch orders will be a snap. Speaking a few words during a job interview might even impress a potential new boss. Making deeper connections with local friends – and maybe a future romantic partner – will be easier as well. When you speak the language, you can also fully immerse yourself in Dutch society and truly feel a sense of belonging.
Practice makes perfect
When you’re first starting out, try to master the basics – with a focus on sentence structure, grammar and vocabulary – so you have a foundation to build upon. Signing up for a beginner’s course is always helpful, and there are also apps, online classes and books to guide you along. Don’t forget to set up a study schedule (and stick to it) as well.
When you know a few words and phrases, practice as much as you can. Order your morning coffee in Dutch, chat with the cashier at the grocery store and ask a colleague how their weekend was. Let other people know you’re learning and encourage them to help you – they’ll probably be happy to assist. If anyone else in your office is studying Dutch, see if they want to team up for a study session over a plate of bitterballen. After all, some tasty local cuisine can’t hurt!
Talk to your kids
Are your kids learning Dutch? They will probably pick it up even faster, so ask them to share what they’ve learned with you. If your little ones bring home books or schoolwork written in Dutch, read it yourself – the simple language will be easier to understand. Watching local TV, listening to the radio and even listening to Dutch music can help, too.
Don’t get discouraged
Learning a new language can be hard. Don’t feel bad if you don’t sound like a native after just a few months; give yourself time and be proud of the gains you’ve made. After all, everyone else probably thinks you’re doing a great job, so relax and take it one word at a time.
Sign up for a language course
Signing up for language lessons gives you the motivation to challenge yourself. UvA Talen offers a variety of individual and group language courses for all levels at a convenient location in the centre of Amsterdam. Choose one that fits your schedule and experience all the benefits of speaking Dutch.