By: Jane Goorden
Moving from the UK to the Netherlands as an expat can be quite the adventure. In a lot of ways, the two countries are very similar – there won’t be much of a culture shock – but to many monolingual Brits, learning Dutch may seem daunting. Dutch is not the easiest language to learn and the Dutch don’t exactly make it any easier. Because you can live your entire life in the Netherlands without having to speak a word of Dutch.
Why is that?
The Dutch are proud of their English skills and as soon as they realise that Dutch isn’t your native language, they’ll jump at the opportunity to show off – even if you address them in Dutch. But practice makes perfect, so if you want to learn Dutch refresh the Dutch you already know, you will have to make a real effort to create opportunities for you to hone your skills. Patience and perseverance are key words here. Keep responding to well-meaning locals in Dutch and make it clear to them that you don’t want to speak English. In other words, practice a little Dutch directness yourself!
The Amsterdam expat community
Because there are so many expats living in Amsterdam, you’ll hear English being spoken almost anywhere you go in the city, and even locals sometimes have to order their pint or cappuccino in English. Far from ideal circumstances for someone who wants to learn Dutch. So try to seek out places where Dutch is the main language of communication or try to practice your Dutch with other expats, and help each other along by exchanging tips.
More tips for learning Dutch
The most effective method of learning another language is total immersion, so try to read Dutch books, watch Dutch series and films, and listen to Dutch music as much as you can. Subtitles and a good dictionary are essential tools here, and they will help you expand your vocabulary even more quickly. Finally, an intensive Dutch for Expats training course is a great way of kickstarting the language-learning process.
Relocating to the Netherlands?
Brexit Amsterdam offers translation services and training courses to help you make the transition as smoothly as possible: