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Learning Dutch for Work
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This post belongs to categories: Dutch language & Expat life in the Netherlands

Learning Dutch for work


As an expat, there will be many times when you will reflect on how important Dutch is to you. Let’s face the facts: you potentially (probably) work in an international company where the main language spoken is English. Even if the company is full of people from The Netherlands, their English is so proficient that communicating here can never be described as a struggle!

Our bilingual neighbors, the Dutch

Hands keeping a book open on top of a block notes and a penThis means, therefore, that language immersion must be an active choice for an expat working in the Netherlands.

In reflection, I question: when there is no ‘need’ to learn Dutch, has our ‘choice’ already been made for us?
Working in an international school, I can positively say that I can go through a full week at work, and the only Dutch I hear is a friendly ‘Goedemorgen!’ from our welcoming receptionist Hetty, or a “Fijn weekend!” from a new teacher who is attempting to show that they are learning the very basics of the language!

Most of my colleagues who speak Dutch are the ‘Lifers’ – those who have chosen the Netherlands as their permanent home. Am I one of them? Yes… I think! It seems unjust however that my situation – that is, deciding to buy a house and marry a (very handsome!) Dutchy – has been the driving force for me to learn Dutch. However, my work situation disempowers my ability and motivation to learn the language. This is a heavy statement to make, but ultimately true. This leaves us expats with a difficult question: why bother?

What is your motivation?

Many students in my class at Kickstart have a motivation. I plan to be here for a long, happy time. I believe the Kickstart experience has had a positive knock-on effect on working in this country. Life, I might argue, has changed as a result of learning the language. Like me, most learners need an external motivation to force them into making the choice to learn Dutch.

A man and a woman in suit shaking hands sitting behind a table opposite to each otherIt is not likely that your word would require you to learn Dutch, however the feeling you get from talking Dutch in the workplace is rather encouraging! When Dutch colleagues know you are studying the language they are super supportive, not to mention understanding of your frustrations as well! In a place where the locals are known for their upfront, direct attitude, they become more open, hospitable and appreciative when you mention your involvement in a Dutch class. I think my Dutch colleagues are proud of their country and love to talk about their language. Moreover, they appreciate my efforts to dip my toes into the challenging world they know so well.

Dutch colleges are always so interested, pleased and excited to talk with me IN Dutch ABOUT Dutch. To know that my colleges are willing to give me their time and interest is important to me, and in the long run this is more important than my original motivation! Instead of it being my motivation, it has become a springboard towards a more dynamic working environment.

A Kick to Start!

If you are reading this, you must be considering taking a Kickstart course or continuing your Dutch studies. Consider the following: what is your motivation? If, like me, it is not related to your work, take the chance to become more confident and more invested. Join our bilingual, trilingual or polyglot neighbors and continue to celebrate the international community of the Netherlands.

Jennifer Keyte, Kickstart student

 What our students say about us

  • My experience with Kickstart has been highly beneficial in both developing language skills and improving my knowledge of the Dutch culture. Josien's support is always spot on and very intuitive in relation to personal circumstances. She spends a lot more than the official time allocated to really get to know her clients and her approach is customised accordingly. She was recommended to me by other Shell colleagues who expressed the same sentiment and I was fortunate enough to benefit from this during the time I spent with her.

    Vennasa van de Ven, Migration Manager working at Shell

  • Entering the Kickstart school premises alone gives you a push of energy and the commitment this will help to create is hardly unmatched in any other language school. The methodology and the approach used in the lessons also helps smoothly unlock the secrets of everyday Dutch. Kickstart School has helped me get in touch with the 'undutchable' culture of the Netherlands and its people. The individual language training I could experience at Kickstart School has been one of the best educational experiences I could have in Europe.

    Alessandro d’Addario, European Law Enforcement 

  • I really enjoyed my English lessons with the Kickstart School. The teacher was professional and really knew the subject. The way they teach is also great! The classes are presented in a clear and professional manner and the online exercises completed at home are very helpful. The teacher always provided useful feedback. It's a great experience to join a Kickstart course with such a friendly atmosphere of students and teachers.

    Beatriz Pedroche, Spain 

  • Kickstart has been the ideal place for me to learn. The teachers are very helpful and friendly and have always gone the "extra mile" to help me learn in a positive way. Their teaching is practical with elements that can immediately be applied to everyday living situations. Included in the lessons are cultural aspects of living in the Netherlands that make learning Dutch dynamic and fun; you learn the language and about the place and the people! The teachers took an active interest in my progress and provided valuable customized sessions that maintained my strengths and developed my weaknesses; all in a patient, fun and friendly style.

    Graeme Ting, dentist from New Zealand 

  • My first contact with Kickstart School was after 1 month of living in The Netherlands, when I started to study Dutch. At the time I didn’t have any knowledge of the language, but with their courses organized by levels I developed important language skills and learned about the Dutch culture. They all do a great job at Kickstart because their motto it’s not just a motto – they are really pleased to teach you. You learn a language in a friendly atmosphere, make new friends from all over the world, and all in a cosy building right in the heart of The Hague.

    Anca Boros, mathematics and physics teacher from Romania

  • During my time with Kickstart I have learned a lot and gained confidence. I was always challenged by the interesting assignments, but never too much. I have really enjoyed the classes!

    Sabine de Bruijn, Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

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