Learn Dutch: why would you?
Many expats who live and work in the Netherlands think it’s not really necessary to learn Dutch. English is the lingua franca at many large companies and when it isn’t, Dutch colleagues will quickly switch to English to accommodate those who don’t speak their language. The Dutch really enjoy speaking English. You can even get by using only English in your free time. So why should you bother learning Dutch? We’d like to give you three solid reasons for doing so.
1. You never know what the future holds
Even though you may not need to communicate in Dutch at present, you might in the future. Why not start now? Learning a language is a long-term process. By the time that opportunity rolls along, you will be speaking Dutch well, and a quick brush-up course for business Dutch will be all you need to ready yourself for your next career step.
Martyna Janowicz was already working as a lecturer at the University of Tilburg when she was promoted to Director of Education of the School of Social and Behavioural Sciences.
“Many of the school’s courses are delivered in English, so as a result I had never felt the need to learn Dutch. In my new role, however, I need to run meetings in Dutch and that can be quite challenging. I’ve become aware that I won’t be taken seriously if I come across as uncertain in the language.”
Another example is Sofia Derossi, from Italy. She had been living in Amsterdam for some time by the time she went to work for a small consulting firm outside the city. She discovered that her Dutch skills weren’t up to par in business situations.
“I am the only non-native speaker of Dutch at my company. I was reluctant to answer the telephone and noticed that during meetings I couldn’t give my input as quickly as I wanted to.”
You never know what career opportunities will come your way. Are you prepared for seizing them with your present Dutch skills?
2. Truly get to know the Dutch culture
Do you only want to get to know the Dutch from a distance, or would you prefer to participate more fully in Dutch society? The latter would be by far the more enjoyable and enriching option for you personally. No matter where you come from, the Dutch culture will differ in some way; by speaking Dutch, you’ll become more familiar with Dutch customs and habits and connect with Dutch people more easily. Your circle of acquaintances will grow and you’ll strengthen the bonds you have with your Dutch colleagues, clients and business relations.
3. Learning foreign languages is good for your brain
Learning a foreign language is healthy! Various studies have shown this to be the case. MRI scans have shown that certain parts of the brain grow in individuals who actively and intensively learn a language. That’s obviously also then the case when you fully immerse yourself in a new language after moving to another country as an expat.
Another study has shown that people who speak multiple languages develop Alzheimer’s at a later age than those who speak only one. Learning a language positively influences the brain and helps keep the it in good condition. So it’s self-evident: If you are an expat living in the Netherlands, start learning Dutch!
Is it difficult to learn Dutch?
Many expats find the idea of learning Dutch a bit daunting because the language seems so challenging. Whether that is truly the case depends on a number of factors. For English and German speakers, for example, it isn’t so difficult because the languages are so strongly related.
In Regina Coeli's language courses, which are focused on helping you rapidly and thoroughly learn a language, a lot of attention is paid to cognates (words that sound almost the same in two languages). By making that a focal point, you’ll notice that you actually recognise large chunks of text. Our language trainers can easily navigate between two languages to show you these types of connections and insights. You’ll quickly notice that you know far more than you first thought.
The difficulty of a language depends on how you approach it. If you choose a method which is well-suited to you, you’ll learn the language much more quickly than when you do something which is against your nature. For example, visual learners learn differently than auditory ones. Moreover, learning in a group can have certain advantages, but if you wish to learn a language quickly and thoroughly and develop a personal communication style, choosing a private individual programme with a team of trainers is a far better option.