Get a Language Buddy via Gilde Samenspraak!

| Leiden International Centre

Gilde Samenspraak’ is a project which focusses on the integration of people from different countries, by matching them with Dutch individuals to learn the Dutch culture and language. Around 40 years ago Gilde Samenspraak Netherlands was founded and you can find Gilde Samenspraak in many large cities.

In 2019 more than 600.000 non-native speakers have been helped by their Dutch volunteers, by giving them the opportunity to learn the Dutch culture in an informal, ‘gezellige’ way, while speaking Dutch. This is at home, in the living room, in the library or during a walk.

By using a hands-on approach, speaking Dutch as soon as possible, the ability to speak Dutch and to be a part of the Dutch society increases faster and easier.

Their volunteers (language coaches) in the Leiden area guide over 400 non-native speaking individuals with practicing their Dutch language. Over the last three years they have helped over 1500 individuals from about 85 different countries.

Dutch people appreciate it when people speak some Dutch when they are staying in the Netherlands for extended periods of time. Many people from different countries have an obligation to integrate. They do not only need to learn the Dutch language, but they also need to learn how the Dutch society works. Many people who do not have this obligation still like to learn the Dutch culture and language. It helps them to connect with their neighbours and other people in their environment.

Learning Dutch

It sounds easy to learn Dutch, but it often is not. Non-native speakers often find people from the same country of origin to learn Dutch with. They do this because they do not know any Dutch people. Dutch people also do not have a lot of contact with non-native speakers. Gilde Samenspraak helps people with crossing these boundaries.

They create everyday contact by matching non-native speakers to Dutch volunteers. We call these duos language buddies. The language buddies meet at least once every week for one hour, when and where they see fit. The duo also chooses for themselves what they want to do. They do expect the duo to stay together for one year.

To match the language buddies, Gilde Samenspraak Leiden has six coordinators, who are also volunteers. They perform the intake sessions for both Dutch and non-native speakers. The coordinator then makes a match and introduces the two to each other. If this introduction goes well for both, they are matched for a year. Coordinators are the people who you can talk to about the match.

Language buddies meet once per week for an hour in an informal way to speak Dutch. They both tell things to each other about their countries of origin.

If a foreign person wants to be a language buddy, they need to be able to speak some Dutch (A1 level), and be willing to expand their vocabulary and speaking ability. The volunteer helps with this, but do remember that they are not a teacher. 

If you want to improve your Dutch, fill out the intake form. Gilde Samenspraak will contact you when they have received it. If you want to be a language coach, you need to fill out the form for language coaches.

If you have any other questions, you can send a mail to Barbera Hermans: You can also visit their website, which is currently only available in Dutch. 

If your Dutch is currently not ready for Gilde Samenspraak, Barbera can refer you to places to learn basic Dutch or you can contact our partner the Square Mile