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Should You Learn Dutch as an International Student in Netherlands?

Should You Learn Dutch as an International Student in Netherlands?
Shishant KumarMay 19, 2023

Should You Learn Dutch as an International Student in Netherlands

Learning Dutch as an international student studying in the Netherlands can substantially enrich your experience and bring several benefits. While many Dutch people speak English fluently, learning their language indicates cultural respect and assimilation. While it is not mandatory, learning Dutch can enhance your academic, social, and professional experiences in the Netherlands. If you plan to stay in the country for an extended period or wish to immerse yourself in the local culture, learning Dutch becomes imminent.

By studying Dutch, you can improve your academics, make meaningful relationships, and fully embrace the lively Dutch community during your time in the Netherlands. In this blog, you will find several reasons to learn the Dutch language and how to go about it. Moreover, plenty of resources offer Dutch language learning modules for free, especially for international students, such as Duolingo, University courses, public libraries, etc. Make sure to check these out in this blog!

Is learning Dutch necessary to study in the Netherlands?

As an international student pursuing higher education in the Netherlands, learning Dutch is not necessarily required. However, it can significantly enhance your experience and offer several advantages. Below are some reasons why learning Dutch is necessary to study in the Netherlands.

  • Integration: Learning Dutch can help you integrate better into the local culture and society. It enables you to communicate with locals, make friends, and participate in social activities more efficiently. It can also enhance your overall experience of living in the Netherlands.
  • Job Opportunities: While there are part-time jobs in the Netherlands for English-speaking students, they are relatively hard to find. Learning Dutch can open up additional employment options, including several internship opportunities in the Netherlands. Some Dutch companies may require proficiency in the language, especially for positions that involve direct interaction with Dutch-speaking customers or colleagues.
  • Networking: Learning Dutch allows you to engage more effectively with Dutch-speaking peers, professors, and professionals. It facilitates networking, collaboration, and building connections, which can benefit your academic and professional future.
  • Cultural Understanding: Language is deeply intertwined with culture. Learning Dutch gives you insights into Dutch traditions, customs, and history. It demonstrates your respect and interest in the local culture, fostering deeper connections with the community.
  • Long-term Stay: Knowing Dutch becomes more valuable if you plan to stay in the Netherlands after completing your studies, whether for work or further education. The country also offers a post-study work visa for non-EU students, commonly known as Orientation Year. Since this allows international students to look for jobs and stay in Netherlands for an extended period, learning Dutch can really boost your prospects for a long-term stay in the Netherlands.

Why should you learn Dutch as an International student in the Netherlands?

Learning Dutch as an international student pursuing higher education in the Netherlands can bring several benefits and enrich your experience. You should learn Dutch as an international student in the Netherlands for several reasons.

  • Social Life: Speaking Dutch opens doors to a wider range of social activities. It enables you to engage with the local community, participate in events, join clubs and associations, and make friends outside the international student bubble. This can greatly enhance your social life and overall experience in the Netherlands.
  • Networking and Social Connections: Speaking Dutch allows you to connect more easily with Dutch students, professors, and professionals. It facilitates networking, collaboration, and building relationships within academic and professional circles. By communicating in their native language, you can foster stronger connections, gain insights into the local culture, and broaden your network of contacts.
  • Personal Growth: Learning a new language is an enriching experience that stimulates cognitive abilities and cultural understanding. It demonstrates your adaptability, resilience, and commitment to personal growth. Acquiring Dutch language skills can boost your self-confidence and provide a sense of achievement as you become more proficient in a foreign language.
  • Practical Daily Life: While many Dutch people speak English fluently, knowing Dutch can benefit everyday activities. It helps with grocery shopping, communicating with landlords, local businesses, and navigating public transportation. It gives you independence and makes daily life easier as a student in the Netherlands.
  • Academic Opportunities: While most higher education programs in the Netherlands are taught in English, there may be courses, electives, or research opportunities conducted in Dutch. Learning the language allows you to access a broader range of academic resources, collaborate with Dutch-speaking professors and students, and take advantage of unique learning opportunities.
  • Career Prospects: Knowing Dutch can significantly boost your employment prospects if you plan to pursue a career in the Netherlands or work with Dutch companies. Certain industries, such as government, healthcare, education, and media, may require Dutch proficiency for certain positions. Having the ability to communicate in Dutch can give you a competitive edge and expand your job opportunities.

How to learn Dutch in the Netherlands?

As an international student pursuing higher education in the Netherlands, there are several ways for you to learn Dutch easily. But remember that learning a language takes time and effort, so be patient and practice regularly. The more you immerse yourself in the language and actively engage with Dutch speakers, the faster your language skills develop. Given below are some common ways you can learn Dutch in the Netherlands.

Dutch Language University Courses 

Many Dutch universities offer Dutch language courses tailored exclusively for international students. These classes are frequently provided at several levels, ranging from beginning to advanced. Check with your university’s language center or department to see if they have any Dutch language classes or may recommend any language schools or resources.

Language Exchange Programs

Language Exchange programs are offered to international students who wish to interact with native Dutch speakers to grasp the Dutch language better.  You can practice speaking Dutch with them while helping them practice your language. Websites, apps, and social media groups can help you find language exchange partners or conversation groups in your area. 

Self-Study Resources

There are several self-study materials available to help you learn Dutch. Online systems such as Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone provide self-paced Dutch language classes. Textbooks, grammar guides, and language-learning apps like Memrise and Anki can also be helpful for self-study.

Immerse yourself in Dutch Media

Surround yourself with resources in the Dutch language, such as books, newspapers, magazines, TV series, films, and podcasts. This language exposure will help you enhance your vocabulary, listening skills, and cultural knowledge. Consider viewing Dutch TV episodes with subtitles, reading Dutch news articles, or listening to Dutch podcasts in your spare time.

Practice with Locals

Whenever feasible, make an effort to practice speaking Dutch with locals. Even though many Dutch people speak English fluently, they will appreciate your attempts to learn their language. Practice ordering meals, asking for directions, and making small talk with shops. Moreover, working part-time jobs in the Netherlands can boost your abilities too!

Can one learn Dutch for free in the Netherlands being an International Student?

One can learn the Dutch language for free or for pretty low-cost prices in the Netherlands, especially if you are an international student looking to reduce your cost of living in the Netherlands. Some of the ways to do the same are tabulated below.

Ways to learn Dutch for free Practicality 
University Language Centres  Dutch universities have a lot of language courses available to international students enrolled in the university for free or at low costs.
Online Language Courses Apps such as Duolingo, Memrise, and Future Learn offer free courses in the Dutch language to anyone, including interactive courses.
Public Libraries One can borrow Dutch language textbooks, audio, and language learning software for free from local public libraries.
Social Language Meetups Many Dutch cities provide language exchange or social meetup organizations where people can practice different languages.
Student Work Visa If you have a student work visa in the Netherlands, you can enroll in many free private courses in top student cities such as Amsterdam, Groningen, Rotterdam, and The Hague.

How does Dutch Language Proficiency impact your career in the Netherlands?

After graduating as an international student, several factors influence your career in the Netherlands. Below are some reasons as to how the language can have an impact on your career.

  • Job Opportunities: As stated ample time earlier, many job vacancies in the Netherlands require or prefer candidates who are fluent in Dutch, especially for positions that involve direct interaction with Dutch clients, customers, or colleagues. By having Dutch language skills, you broaden your job opportunities and increase your chances of finding employment in various industries and sectors.
  • Networking & Communication: Dutch language skills enable you to build stronger professional networks within your industry and in general business settings. It shows respect for the local culture and enhances your ability to navigate the Dutch business landscape.
  • Local Market Advantage: The Netherlands has a vibrant and competitive job market, and having Dutch language proficiency gives you a competitive edge over other international applicants who may need to speak the language. 
  • Workplace Integration: Being proficient in Dutch helps you integrate into the Dutch work culture more seamlessly. It allows you to understand and adapt to workplace dynamics, company policies, and internal communications. It also helps you participate in meetings, discussions, and social interactions, contributing to a sense of belonging and promoting career growth.
  • Career Progression: It opens up opportunities for promotions, leadership roles, and increased responsibilities that require interaction with Dutch-speaking stakeholders. Employers may be more likely to consider you for positions requiring a strong Dutch language command, giving you a competitive advantage over monolingual candidates.


In conclusion, while learning Dutch as an international student in the Netherlands is not a strict requirement, it offers numerous advantages. Dutch language proficiency enhances your integration into the local culture, facilitates social interactions, and provides a deeper understanding of Dutch society. Moreover, it expands your academic engagement, allowing access to additional resources and research opportunities. 

Professionally, Dutch language skills broaden your job prospects, improve networking capabilities, and demonstrate your commitment to the local market. Ultimately, learning Dutch as an international student in the Netherlands enriches your experience during your studies and opens doors to a wider range of career opportunities and long-term settlement in the country. Since many more ranges open up, Gyanberry will gladly assist you with all admission counseling services. Get a free video counseling session with our expert to know more.

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No, although learning Dutch as an international student in the Netherlands is not mandatory, it is obviously quite useful regarding your social life, academic opportunities, career prospects, and personal growth.

There are ample resources from where one can learn Dutch if you are an international student. These resources include Dutch Language University courses, Exchange Programs, and online learning platforms such as Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta, etc.

Yes, definitely! You can learn Dutch for free in the Netherlands through several online platforms such as Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta, etc. Other than that, some universities offer international students free crash courses in the Dutch language. But the best way to fully learn the language, free of cost, is through social interaction with the localities and Dutch media.

Yes! A lot of benefits, such as getting a boost in your career, more opportunities for courses offered in Dutch universities, better communication with localities, networking, etc., are offered to those proficient in the Dutch language.

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