5 Reasons to Learn Dutch

| Leiden International Centre

In these first weeks of 2024 you probably have reflected on some New Year resolutions, is learning Dutch on the list? If not, it should, and we will tell you why!

Whether you never considered learning Dutch, or it's on your to-do list but you lack the motivation to start, we know that sometimes this step ends up put aside. Dutch people generally have a good level of English, and as internationals we don't feel the need to make that effort. Even more when we find out that the Dutch often prefer to switch to English rather than engaging in a conversation with someone who is not fluent! Many internationals eventually give up, or never start the learning process at all. However, speaking Dutch could really help you when living in the Netherlands, by easying your integration, speeding up procedures, and meeting new friends. Here is a list of the reasons why we think you should start (or continue) learning Dutch.

1. Being part of the culture

Although a lot of people in the Netherlands speak a reasonable level of English, learning Dutch enables you to feel more part of the culture and the environment around you. We are confident that as a non-Dutch speaker you have at least once felt confused by why the train had stopped, why everyone was laughing at the Vrijmibo ('Friday afternoon drinks'), or what that nice lady was commenting about wen she bumped into you at the grocery store. Small interactions like this are often not worth the effort to ask for a translation, and we go on with our day. But once you learn the language you will unlock all these small moments and exit that apparent isolation.

2. Bureaucracy

As an international you probably are familiar with the feeling of receiving a letter from the Gemeente, the Belastingdienst, or some other institution and not being able to understand whether you are in trouble or not. Sure, technology now has developed tools to translate text from a simple picture, but what if this magic tool was in your brain? Learning Dutch means an easier access to bureaucracy, reading official documents and communications, or filling in forms, making your experience in the Netherlands stress-free.


3. Culture shock

Sometimes you might feel very lonely after moving far away from your hometown, but having the language to focus on can keep you occupied and help you make connections with people too. Following a Dutch language course is a good occasion to meet other internationals who, like yourself, are trying to immerse themselves in the culture and might be struggling to overcome their culture shock too. In addition, learning a language helps understanding its culture and mentality, which are reflected in each language vocabulary, sentence structure, and common expressions.

Person with a paper in her hands

4. Fun

Learning Dutch is fun, especially when you start to understand more and you begin to feel more natural in speaking it. Each little goal reached will fill you with satisfaction and pride, and you should celebrate it too! You can also learn about new funny Dutch words: did you know that gloves here are 'hand-shoes'?

People talking

5. Show your effort

The Dutch love a trier – and appreciate you making an effort (even if they answer back in English). Even if it might seem hard at first, always keep trying and don’t give up! Your Dutch friends and colleagues will be really proud of you, and if you ask they will help you practice. If you want, you can also proudly wear one of our ‘Praat Nederlands Met Me’ (Talk Dutch to me) pins: you can find them at our Meet&Mingle or at the Tourist Information Leiden.

Now that we convinced you to start learning Dutch, you should have a look at our language partners and see what best fits you! 

  • The Square Mile is a language school for business language training, they offer a variety of languages - including Dutch - for individuals or small groups
  • Taalthuis is a language school that aims at teaching Dutch at different levels while having fun
  • BplusC is a dynamic organizations that offers a wide range of courses, including Dutch language