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What are the benefits of learning Dutch?

As an English-speaking expat in the Netherlands, you can often get by with little to no knowledge of Dutch. But what are missing out on by refusing to learn Dutch? Here are the four top benefits that you gain by achieving fluency in this fascinating language! (Even if you don't need it for your job).

1. Feeling at home

Do you always feel like a foreigner, and would you like to be part of the local community in the Netherlands? By speaking Dutch you can improve your interaction with people around you and feel at home in the Netherlands. Language is tightly associated with culture; because of this it can be a barrier that blocks real integration. No matter how willing Dutch people might be to speak English, they will only be able to share their full personality when they speak their native tongue, which reflects the cultural traits that define them.

2. Communication with Dutch authorities

As most of you have already experienced, any official communication with the Dutch authorities is made in Dutch. If you have a good command of the language, you can understand the letters or emails you receive from the tax authorities, bank, municipality, health insurance, etc. Forget about the hassle by having to involve other people in order to know if you are getting money back or if you need to pay a fine.

3. Experience cultural diversity

Learning a foreign language gives you a deeper insight into values, beliefs, experiences and targets of people around you. It also helps you understand your own thoughts and convictions from a different perspective, as you get the chance to compare them to a new way of thinking, which accompanies the language you learn. The Dutch have earned themselves a reputation for being incurably outspoken. Speech is almost always straightforward and context-driven. This naked style of conversation has its positive sides, as you can ask a Dutch person anything and know you’ll get the answer.

4. It seems impossible until it’s done

Challenging yourself to learn a language like Dutch is an extremely rewarding experience. Being able to communicate in more and more situations is similar to improving your score in a game: you easily become addicted to it, and you don’t stop before you have reached the top level. Pronouncing sounds which at first seem impossible, adopting a new mentality, discovering similarities with your mother tongue, communicating in a language you previously could not: you are clever enough to do it! Are you up for the challenge?

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