Speaking Dutch on the job

25 June 2018
door Regina Coeli

Do you speak a lot of Dutch with friends, at the sports club or in the supermarket, but cannot imagine ever speaking Dutch at work? Or have you learned Dutch but not yet found an pressing reason to use the language? Then read on, because your work can be the ideal place to learn how to speak Dutch better.

Culture and language training themes

Of course, one company might lend itself to speaking Dutch more than the other. If most of your colleagues are not Dutch, then it can be challenging to make use of the language. But what if meetings are held in English for your sake even though all the other attendees speak Dutch? The chance of improving your business Dutch in this kind of setting is, of course, much greater than when all your colleagues are English speakers.

Advantages of speaking Dutch

There are a number of advantages to speaking Dutch at work:

1. You interact more with your Dutch colleagues and gain a better understanding of how the Dutch communicate.

2. You improve your odds on the Dutch labour market. Perhaps you are now working in a largely English-speaking environment, but who knows—perhaps a very nice vacancy will come along for which you have to be able to speak Dutch. It is better to be prepared for it!

3. If English is not your first language and you speak English with Dutch people, then you both have to translate, which increases the chances of misunderstandings.

These motivated professionals preceded you

Every day, we provide training to professionals from abroad who would like to learn better Dutch. They all have their own reasons for doing so.

Sofia Derossi:

‘To come across professionally, I really needed to expand my vocabulary and improve my pronunciation, but most of all I had to build up my confidence. At my work, I’m the only one who isn’t a native Dutch speaker and that’s not always easy. I was anxious about answering the telephone and sometimes, during meetings, I wasn’t able to react quickly enough in the discussion to get my point across. During my training course at Regina Coeli, I was given a lot of practical tips to deal with these problems. I also discovered that once I had got through the first two sentences in Dutch, the rest of the conversation went well. So I concentrated on practising the beginnings of conversations.’
Read the interview with Sofia

Niina Pussinen:

‘The Dutch communicate very differently to what I was used to. I really had to get used to the candidness of the language. I thought it was blunt and impolite, but once I started to communicate more straightforwardly myself, I noticed that it worked. By adopting their communication style, you can better understand the Dutch. One aspect of Dutch which I think is quite funny is that time always comes at the beginning of a sentence. That’s because time is such a critical concept in the Netherlands.’
Read the full interview with Niina


Pascal Gilet:

‘Nobody asked me to learn Dutch when I accepted this position. I was personally extremely motivated. I am proud to be leading Heineken Netherlands. It’s a fantastic Dutch company, so it’s only logical that I would speak Dutch. I really want to stay in touch with the people. If I want to meet with a ministry, for example, I think I have to be able to speak Dutch with them. You can look at it this way: it would be unthinkable for a foreigner at the top of the French company Danone to not speak French.’
Read the full interview with Pascal


The leap to professional Dutch

How do you take that leap to speaking Dutch at work? Speaking Dutch socially is different to speaking Dutch in a professional environment. Do you know, for example, all the professional terms you need in Dutch? Can you speak without making major mistakes? Speed can also be an issue, of course—if you have to search and search for the right words, you may catch a slightly impatient Dutch colleague peeking at his watch. After all, time is money in the Netherlands. Start by being well-prepared.

One way to properly prepare yourself for using Dutch at work is to take a Dutch course at Regina Coeli. A team of language trainers will work with you to develop the skills you need for your job. In doing so, we look at the sector in which you work, your profession and you as a person. After all, you want to come across just as naturally in Dutch.

It is all about you!

Given that you have read through this article, it is probably safe to say you are interested in the subject. Shall we talk about it further in a personal intake conversation? Then you will not leave it at just some general article, but instead make it all about you. Please feel free to contact us.


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