Student Mobility / Student life / Why Now Is The Time to Learn Dutch 

Why Now Is The Time to Learn Dutch 

Anyone who has spent any time as a student in the Netherlands has heard that there are plans in place to control the number of internationals who are coming to the country. Last academic year, 115,000 international students were pursuing their degrees at a Dutch institution. If this number increases further, many are worried that the quality of education would suffer, while there would also be even less housing to go around. As a result, the Dutch government is proposing a solution: language classes. Here’s why now is the time to learn Dutch.

By making Dutch classes the norm, the Dutch government hopes that international students will be more likely to stay in and contribute to the economy of the country. Having some command of the language will increase students’ chances on the job market and make long-term integration easier. If you know a little bit of Dutch, you’re also more likely to understand the culture better and connect more deeply with the locals. 

Now, you may be wondering: Ok, great, but where can I even learn Dutch?

University Language Centers

Most universities in the Netherlands have centers where students can sign up to learn various languages, including Dutch. Often, there are discounts for incoming international students, while some institutions even offer lessons completely for free. Whether you’re a complete beginner or just looking for a brush-up, there will be a class tailored to you. And, if it’s an intensive crash-course you’re looking for, this might be an option too. 

Here’s an overview of the main research university-bound language centers: 

Some Universities of Applied Sciences also offer language courses, but this depends on the institution. A quick Google search should answer this question for you.

Taking a Dutch class through your university is a great option since it’ll provide you with the grammatical basis that’ll be handy to know if you ever intend to be fluent. However, this option can not only be costly but might also transport you back to the language-learning high school setting that you’d rather forget about. Of course, sentence structure and conjugation are important, but so is speaking. So, it’s best to follow-up with another resource that allows you to find a healthy balance of both.

Free Dutch Language Events

Those who want to improve their conversation skills quickly – or just don’t want to spend money on a language course – should check what free events are being held in their Dutch city. For example, many libraries organize a so-called ‘taalcafé’, or language café, where you can practice your skills with native or advanced Dutch speakers in a non-intimidating environment. The libraries and community centers listed below host these types of events:

Otherwise, there are also walking-talking events taking place in Rotterdam, if you happen to live there. These are great, because you not only get to meet people and improve your confidence in ordering a Kaassoufflé or Broodje Kroket, but you’ll also get your steps in and discover the city. 


If you’d like to practice Dutch in a semi-professional capacity, then there is no better way to do so than through volunteering. You probably won’t be expected to speak well at all – rather, what counts will be your motivation. Speaking from experience, it’s a great opportunity to practice your skills in a non-judgmental environment, all while doing good great for the community and meeting new people. Talk about a win-win-win! 

We published an entire blog post about how to get started with volunteering in the Netherlands. Check it out here

Online Resources 

Finally, you may even be able to kickstart your journey of learning Nederlands without ever even having to leave your couch. You’ll thank me for this one when Dutch winter hits! Though, of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll become an instant expert with online resources alone. However, they’re a great option for getting your feet wet or in combination with an in-person class. 

Check these out: 

  • Duolingo – small daily lessons with speaking, writing and comprehension exercises
  • iTalki – a paid, but affordable way to take flexible online classes 
  • Tandem – partner up with a Dutchie who wants to learn your native language, all while they teach you theirs 
  • DutchPod101 – audio and video lessons of Dutch basics, both in a free and paid version
  • Dutch music or TV shows are great for getting a better cultural understanding, while also introducing you to a more casual way of speaking

This was everything you needed to know about why now is the time to start learning Dutch. Follow these steps and you’ll be acing everyday interactions in no time, whether you’re picking up your weekly veggies at the market or telling your barber/hairdresser what you want your next super-duper-trendy haircut to look like. 

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