Learning Dutch when you move to the Netherlands

Learning Dutch when you move to the Netherlands

If you’re moving to the Netherlands temporarily for your studies or work, you won’t necessarily have to learn Dutch. This depends on factors like your nationality, and whether you yourself feel it’s necessary. Since most Dutch people switch to English as soon as you start talking to them, you won’t generally be encouraged to learn or speak Dutch. That might even make it tricky to learn Dutch when you do actually want to.


Why learn Dutch?

Even though it’s not always compulsory to learn Dutch when you live in the Netherlands for an extended period, it’s of course useful and fun. For instance, do you get why everyone’s always talking about the weather? Or why it’s a good idea to make an appointment with someone before visiting them? Learning Dutch makes it easier to understand the Dutch culture, habits and quirks, and it’ll also help you connect with other people faster. Because even though you’re pretty good at English yourself and nearly everyone speaks English to you, Dutch people do prefer to speak Dutch to each other. And if you do learn a bit of Dutch, you’ll get loads of compliments, as the Dutch always really appreciate you speaking Dutch to them.

Is Dutch an easy language?

A lot of expats find Dutch pretty hard to learn, but it does depend on what country you’re from and which other languages you speak. For instance, if you already speak English, German, Swedish or Afrikaans, you’ll learn fast. But if you only speak Arabic or Chinese, you’ll probably find it a lot harder, as the differences between these languages are so big.

Where to learn Dutch

The best way to learn to speak, read and write Dutch well is by taking a language course. There are various options open to you:

  • Through your employer Many expats moving to the Netherlands already have a job with a Dutch employer or an international employer with offices in the Netherlands before moving here. These employees often offer Dutch language courses run by external providers. These courses can be either one-on-one or together with colleagues (‘in company’).
  • Through a language course provider There are a great many organizations that provide courses in Dutch as a second language at different levels. Sign up for a language course near where you live, or Google ‘Nederlands leren’ (learning Dutch) or ‘NT2’ (the Dutch state exam in Dutch as a second language). You can also visit taalunieversum.nl, nederlandsetaal.startpagina.nl and onzetaal.nl.
  • Through the library Public libraries in most towns and cities offer ‘language buddy’ programmes that you can sign up for. These buddies are volunteers you can practice with on a regular basis to learn to speak, read and write Dutch.
  • Online You can also learn Dutch online. Check the following sites for instance:

More tips on living and working in the Netherlands

If you’re feeling unprepared, don’t worry. Whether it’s about administrative checks, Dutch traditions or getting a place to settle in, we’ve put together several relevant tips for you to get you accustomed to your new surroundings.

The information on this page is a brief explanation. You can not derive any rights from this.

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Payments and cash withdrawals

If you’re an expat, it’s good to know the best way to make payments in the Netherlands. Read on to find out more about the most popular methods used here.

Open a Dutch bank account

  • Apply in our Mobile Banking app
  • Digital identification
  • Get your account number within 4 hours
Learn how to apply About the bank account

Welcome to the Netherlands

Our handy checklist will help you sort out of all the things you need to take care of before moving to the Netherlands.