Real Talk: Is English really widely spoken in the Netherlands?
Yes it is – 93% of the population claim to be fluent in English. In fact, according to EF English Proficiency Index, the Netherlands placed first for English proficiency in comparison to 100 other non-native English speaking countries.
Why do Dutchies speak such good English?
The Dutch are surrounded by the English language from an early age – television programmes like Peppa Pig and Sponge Bob are not dubbed as they are in other countries. This encourages Dutch children to learn English the same way as their native speaking counterparts.
The Netherlands has a global mindset – This country might be small, but it’s GDP ranks 17th worldwide. Building a strong economy with international trade has meant prioritising learning the English language. Consequently, the Netherlands has constructed a business friendly reputation, hosting the headquarters of global companies such as Ikea and Philips.
Along with a reputation for business - Dutchies are well known explorers with a fondness for travel. Many Dutch students choose to study abroad, either in another European country, or elsewhere in the world. It is also common for students to pursue additional languages either as part of their study or through volunteering and internships. It is not surprising therefore that Dutchies are among the most multilingual nationals in Europe.
There is also some good news for those considering learning Dutch: English and Dutch are part of the same Germanic, Indo-European language group. In other words, the two languages share similar characteristics, which in theory should make it easier for a native English speaker to learn Dutch and vice versa…. Although don’t speak too soon, especially
if you’re trying to learn how to pronounce the infamous Dutch “G.”
Speaking as a fellow expat from little Britain – you can very easily live in the Netherlands (particularly Amsterdam) without learning a single word of Dutch. But, if you would like to try making some very tall friends, I would suggest enrolling yourself in a Dutch language course (there are lots) or downloading a language app (I like Michel Thomas) to experiment with a few words and phrases. Till then Tot Ziens!
This blog post was written by Overseasy intern Lizzy Patterson