As an English-speaking expat in the Netherlands, you can often get by with little to no knowledge of Dutch. But what is it that you are missing out on by refusing to learn fluent Dutch? Here are the four top benefits that you gain by achieving fluency in this fascinating language!
1. Get integrated!
Why be always a foreigner when you can be part of the local community? 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. Handle your 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 you receive from the tax authorities, bank, municipality, health insurance, etc. No more 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. Increase your awareness
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. For Dutch speakers, the answer to a question meaning 'How is it going?' can be lekker, literally ‘delicious’, meaning that a good mood is comparable to good food. In fact, the famous word lekker can be used for anything that makes you feel good!
4. Have fun
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?
Looking to maximize the efficiency of your learning process? Why not try out the innovative tool DutchReader? This browser extension lets you read original news articles with minimal effort while you memorize new words.