Almost 20,000 people from around the world have signed up for an online course to learn Dutch offered by the University of Groningen.
The course, an introduction to the Dutch language, will start in March and is completely free.
‘They come from all over the place – Australia, the US, South Korea, Germany and the Czech Republic,’ Margriet Hidding, from the university’s language centre, told the Telegraaf.
Hidding placed the course on website futurelearn.com, where universities advertise their free courses, in December. ‘The registrations began to flood in immediately,’ she says.
Some of the new students want to visit the Netherlands for a holiday or to work or study. ‘There are also people with a Dutch girlfriend or boyfriend. One is a retired man in New York who just wants to learn Dutch,’ Hidding said.
The course runs for three weeks and includes the basics of reading, writing and conversation. It also includes information about Dutch culture and the landscape.
‘We want to raise our profile among potential new students and staff,’ Hidding said. ‘The education ministry is keen to see this as well.
‘Many foreigners who come to the Netherlands leave again as soon as they are finished. This is partly because they don’t speak the language and don’t feel comfortable. But by testing out the language in advance, they will hopefully feel more at home.’
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