Congratulations — you’re moving to the Netherlands! Whether you’re relocating to attend a university, take on an internship or seek employment, this beautiful country offers plenty of opportunities. However, you may be wondering if you’ll need to learn Dutch, and what language tips you can hope to find to make sure that you don’t end up saying the wrong thing to the wrong person.
Thankfully, the language barrier in the Netherlands is about as good as you can hope for, as that 99% of the Dutch population can speak English, especially if you’re staying in cities popular with tourists, students and young people, such as Rotterdam or Amsterdam. The Dutch people also have a wonderful way of taking notice that you may be struggling with finding the correct Dutch words and then switching over to English automatically. This is just one of the many reasons why the Netherlands is just perfect for internationals.
But hey, if you’re living in a new country, no matter how easy it may be to stick to using your native tongue, one of the best practical tips is to try to learn the language. Plus, if you’re hoping to acclimate to the Netherlands and its culture, there’s no better way to do it than by trying to speak Dutch with the locals.
Of course, you may be extremely busy with your new position or getting ready to start classes at the university, but what better way to stand out than by showing off your newly learned Dutch vocabulary? This informative guide full of language tips should help get you started, including simple phrases that you will use in everyday conversations and interactions.
What are you waiting for? Let’s learn a little Dutch!
The Dutch language is made up of five vowels and 21 consonants, with the same number of letters as the English language. However, some pronunciations will be a little different.
The vowel sounds in Dutch can vary primarily with pairings, such as the following:
The consonant sounds in Dutch can vary in singular letters, along with pairings, including the following:
While you’re out enjoying the city, there are quite a few simple words and sentences that can really help you out. When you’re asking for direction to the bus stop, you don’t want to end up insulting someone’s haircut, do you? These common phrases are perfect for avoiding a misunderstanding.
Some of the most important ways that you can utilize the Dutch language is in casual conversation, such as making introductions or asking polite questions.
As we mentioned, almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks at least a bit of English. Yet, you wouldn’t want to find yourself trying to find your way home after a night out with friends, not knowing even a few simple phrases.
When you’re in a strange city, one of the most confusing things imaginable is not to be able to read the signs around you. You don’t want to end up opening the wrong door in some situations, that’s for sure!
If you’re not familiar with the Dutch language, you can really order the wrong thing when you’re dining out. While your server will most definitely explain the menu to you when asked, wouldn’t it be nice to look smart in front of your new Dutch friends and know the difference between Bitterballen and Apple Pie?
A few basic things to know include:
There are always a few things that your server needs to know or questions that you might have, before your meal. Learning them in Dutch makes things easier, especially when there’s no room for misunderstandings.
Learning a few things to ask your server can be a great way to test out a few new Dutch words.
Shopping can be a very important part of life, especially when you’re replacing items that you didn’t have room for in your suitcases. Making conversation with store employees can be a great way to practice the language, and it can come in useful if the employee happens to only speak Dutch.
Many expats choose to cook their food at home when they move to the Netherlands, especially when they’re trying to stick within a budget. Here are a few helpful questions and words to learn:
Many Dutch cities have markets, where you can find fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and a ton of bargains on other things that you may need to start your new Dutch lifestyle.
Unfortunately, during your time in the Netherlands, you may need to make use of your health insurance and visit a physician or pharmacy. The following phrases could be helpful:
Now that you’ve learned a few basic Dutch phrases, that’s just one more thing you can check off your “Moving to the Netherlands” checklist. Of course, there are numerous other things that you’ll need to do before you relocate, or as soon as you arrive, so be sure to check out our helpful guide to the Netherlands, complete with additional pages on a variety of Dutch cities. Additionally, you can also go to Google Translate to hear spoken options for Dutch words and phrases.