Whether you’ve been in Amsterdam for just a few months, or even a few years, you’ll know by now that it is possible to get by without knowing more Dutch than “in het Engels alstublieft”.
If you don’t plan on staying long term, that’s generally enough to get you by. Even with the basic language skills for getting your groceries or ordering a drink, most Dutch people in the city will automatically switch to English when they hear an accent. And in a city full of expats, it’s quite easy to find yourself an English speaking circle of friends.
But feeling at home in a new environment is often dependent on how well you are able to integrate into the community. Most residence permits also require the NT2 examination, which requires cultural and language integration. (You can learn more about the requirements and access some practice exams at en.inburgeren.nl)
It’s quite difficult to learn Dutch language skills and integrate into a community that will do its best to switch to English for you. So to learn Dutch, it’s almost necessary to take the initiative and learn on your own, find a language exchange group, take a course or even self study.
Many of us are busy with work life and/or family life, so finding time to take courses can be quite a hassle. Not only that, but language courses can run anywhere from 200eur to 1500eur.
For those of you looking for free resources to get in some basic Dutch, we recommend:
Duolingo.com: You can sign up for an account free of cost. The website is dubbed to be one of the best online resources for learning the language. There are plenty of exercises and at the end of every “lesson”, your knowledge is tested before you can move forward. There is also a mobile app which is great for commuting!
LearnDutch.org offers a range of free resources for beginners. They have two great courses for beginners:
1) 1000 most common words in Dutch which offers videos, word lists, and exercises to work on.
2) #dutchgrammar which offers handouts, and exam, and even a certificate, on top of videos, word lists and exercises.
LearnDutch.org also has a free app where you can access flash cards with the word list from the 1000 most common words in Dutch course, and hear pronunciation.
These are great for spent in transit, especially listening to lessons while riding to wherever you need to go.
Know some Dutch and looking for people to chat with? You can find language exchange groups on meetup.com or through a simple Facebook search.
We found the Katakura-WBLC language school (http://katakura-wblc.nl/) who offers their “Expat Meetup Amsterdam Dutch Language Pub” once a month. You can RSVP on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DutchCoursesKatakura).
If you’re interested in following one of their courses, they offer a free 15 minute trial session to get a feel for how they work (http://katakura-wblc.nl/site/free-dutch-lesson/). They offer courses designed for Expats, all levels, as well as training for inburgering and the NT2 examination.
They have a Centrum location (Egelantiersstraat 126) and a location in Zuid at the World Trade Centre (Havikshorst 30).
Koentact (https://koentact.nl/) is another company that offers language cafés and courses, located at Elandsgracht 70.
Their free language café (https://www.facebook.com/AmsterdamLanguageCafe/) is yet another chance to get out and meet people from all over with varying levels of knowledge of the Dutch language.
Every so often, Koentact hosts an open day (https://koentact.nl/open-day/) for people interested in enrolling in their courses. At their open day you can do a trial lesson and test your current level. Their courses start from €250.
If you are looking for one-on-one training, or a course to host at your company, Koentact offers both of these options as well.
Your Day with May – Offers great private tutoring sessions for very reasonable fees. Ideal for those looking for tailor made teaching, and given that it’s one on one, the time schedules are flexible. Teacher is very courteous, knowledgeable and patient. Also don’t forget to checkout the fan page for interesting tips
But I don’t live in Amsterdam?
For those in the ZH area, last but certainly not least, let’s not forget Volksuniversiteit Den Haag. Teaching over 300 courses and a large staff coupled with good prices this is probably the best option in The Hague. The teachers are quite enthusiastic and the homework is reasonable. It has the added bonus of offering both language courses and other core skill courses. Prices are also very reasonable.
So whether you prefer to be self-taught, learn through practicing with others, or would like to take a course, rest assured that there are plenty of options in Amsterdam and beyond!
About the author: Darya Danesh is a 20 something expat, living in Amsterdam since 2014. She studied at the University of Amsterdam and runs a blog at daryawrites.com.
None of the above schools have paid to be in this article. However, we have personally tried Your Day with May and Volksuniversiteit and they were both great!