Learning Dutch to further your career in the North

When you've just arrived in the Netherlands, it seems like everyone is speaking English. You can use it everywhere: at work, in your studies, with friends, and even at the supermarket. And you start to think: do I even need to learn Dutch at all?

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The Netherlands maintains a consistent position among the world's top countries in terms of English proficiency levels among non-native speakers. More than 90% of the total population is able to converse in English. But sticking to English alone won't help you get settled in the Netherlands, if that's what you'd like to do. Even though you can freely navigate your daily life without knowing the local language, learning Dutch will bring you many great benefits:


Although almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks English quite fluently, it's important to understand that it's not their native language. There will always be a barrier between you and the local people if you only speak English to them. And if English is not your native language either, this can present a double obstacle in communication. Moreover, the further from the big cities you go, the fewer people can easily switch to English with you.

Speaking and understanding some Dutch will make it much easier for you to join local sports clubs, hobby activities and events. Making Dutch friends will open a lot of doors in terms of finding local opportunities (both for fun and career-wise). But Dutchies are less likely to include you in their inner circle if it means everyone always has to swap to speaking English.


Networking is very important in the Northern Netherlands if you want to find work, and especially if you want to pursue a career. Groningen, Leeuwarden, Assen and Emmen are certainly international cities, but many networking and career events are still happening in Dutch (which makes sense, since we’re in the Netherlands). A little Dutch will go a long way in starting a conversation.

You can learn more about networking by reading our article “Build and maintain your network to land your next job in the North”


Whether you've just started looking for a job in the Netherlands or are already working, the fact that you are learning the language will demonstrate to your current or potential employer that are interested to settle here, at least for a while. That makes you a much more interesting candidate for the job they have on offer! After all, you can imagine they'd rather not have to look for a new person if you'd leave in 6 months. Moreover, making a place for yourself at work and integrating there will be much easier when you can understand and speak a little of the language that most people at work speak.

Should you decide to change jobs in the future, knowing Dutch will make the transition much smoother as well. Even a social chitchat-level of Dutch will expand the range of jobs available for you!


There are different ways you can learn Dutch, but the fastest way is with guidance and a supportive community. Northern Netherlands offers many opportunities for learners of all language levels.


There are different courses at the University of Groningen Language Centre (see more information below) and at the Hanze University, which are really convenient to follow next to your study or work. At the local Forum library you can also find some language and conversational classes. If you’re looking for more long-term education, you can follow the NT2 (Dutch as a second language) courses at Alfa-college and Noorderpoort. And of course there are many conversational groups and local initiatives to help you.

Make sure to check the International Groningen page to see all the options! 


In the province of Drenthe, you can find many places to improve your language skills. Drenthe College (in Meppel, Assen, and Emmen) offers various courses, from preparation for the integration exam to learning to speak at the B2 level. IVIO-Opleidingen has a location in Emmen with a wide variety of courses. If you’re not a fan of classroom study and prefer a more practical approach, you can join different conversation groups, which are organized in local libraries or at Humanitas Assen. Additionally, you can attend an intensive Dutch summer camp, where you can completely focus on your language skills for a few weeks.

It's good to know that some courses can be paid for by the government. However, always check with the educational institution to ensure you meet all the requirements.

University of Groningen Language Centre

Learn and improve your Dutch at the University of Groningen Language Centre! Thanks to the teaching methods developed by the university's teachers, you will learn Dutch very quickly. These Dutch courses are aimed at communication, which means that you will actively use the Dutch you learn during the course. Whether you are a professional, a participant in a civic integration programme, or a private individual - the Language Centre is here to help you. Achieve your personal goals with an extensive range of language courses and services! 

Here's the list of Dutch courses that you can follow at the Language Centre:

The standard group courses begin at several different times throughout the year. If you wish to choose your own course content, period, days, intensity, and times, then you can request a quote for a tailor-made individual or group course. 

The University Language Centre hopes to help you further explore the world of language and culture with their passion and knowledge! Do you have any further questions? You can always contact them via email. During opening hours, you can also reach them by phone or come to the information desk.


In conclusion

Whether you learn Dutch in a class or by yourself, try to use it everywhere in your daily life. It doesn’t matter if you know just a few words and phrases; just start to include them in conversations, and you won’t believe how fast your language level will grow!