Taalthuis’s Dutch courses are helping newcomers make the most of the summer holidays and get ready for September. We find out more.
The Festival season is in full swing, terraces are bustling, parks are dotted with picnic parties and boats heave with revellers cruising the canals. It’s the perfect time to make new friends and practise your Dutch. But is your Dutch summer ready?
Taalthuis can help. The Dutch language school offers online classes, in-person lessons in eight locations, a summer crash course in Amsterdam and Haarlem, and fun summer classes for kids in Utrecht and Haarlem.
‘The Dutch are real party people,’ says Claire Meens-Smit, Taalthuis’s course and content coordinator. ‘We’re such a crowded country, we just enjoy letting go sometimes. It’s our expression of our open-mindedness.’
Useful phrases for gaining popularity at Dutch parties include Ik geef een rondje (I’ll buy the next round), Stuur maar even een Tikkie (send me a Tikkie), and Ik ben de Bob (You drink, I’ll do the driving). While the chat-up line Ken ik jou niet ergens van? (Don’t I know you from somewhere?) never ages.
‘At every single party I go to, everyone is intrigued and impressed by the fact that you are learning Dutch and everyone uses that opportunity to teach you something,’ says Taalthuis student Alexander Whyte (33), from London, who recently moved to the Netherlands to join his Dutch girlfriend and take up a job in a Dutch-speaking office. ‘The Dutch are some of the most welcoming people in the world,’ he adds. ‘You always leave with new friends and contacts.’
While still in the UK, Alexander would travel to Amsterdam regularly to experience the world-famous electronic music scene here. ‘The Dutch throw some of the best parties in the world. It’s a hotspot for DJs – everyone plays here at some point during the summer,’ he says. He also likes that the drinking culture is less messy than in the UK. ‘At all times, at all hours, everyone is well put-together. They know how to be responsible with drink,’ he says.
To prepare for relocating to the Netherlands, he signed up to Taalthuis’s online lessons. ‘Online is great,’ he says. ‘I have met lots of like-minded people and it fits around my schedule. I work nine hours a day and have a busy social calendar as well. I’m travelling the whole time, so often I’m doing my lessons at the airport.’
Alexander is very happy with his progress. ‘One of the best things about it is that the class is super small [5-8 students], so you get a lot of coaching for a reasonable price,’ he says. ‘I go to parties where I’m the only expat. Learning Dutch means that I’m starting to pick up a conversation and, even if I still need to use some English, I can take part.’
‘Online courses are a really versatile way to learn,’ explains Claire, who is also the contact person for Taalthuis’s In Company courses. ‘We have some au pairs who open up their tablet or computer while on holiday with their host family. We have a lot of expats that are travelling who can still join the online classes. That’s a huge plus. We also have some international students who are starting their courses in September and are doing their Dutch lessons from the US or from Indonesia, for example, before they come.’
If time is short, Taalthuis’s in-person summer crash course is a great solution. ‘It’s a full submersion in the language, a compact week full of Dutch and a big boost for your learning,’ Claire says. ‘The weather’s good. You can do other stuff outside the classroom, have some drinks. It’s a really fun way to meet people and learn Dutch while you are there. For international students, if you do a full week of Dutch lessons before your course starts in September, that will really help you integrate and really boost your experience.’
Similarly, the children’s lessons are ‘a good kickstart to their school year’, says Claire. ‘They are all fresh and relaxed from the holidays, and that’s a great moment to start learning. They will have all the energy to absorb all the language and they will benefit from that throughout the whole school year.’
Moving to the Netherlands and keen to soak up the social scene here make learning Dutch a no-brainer for Alexander, whose eagerness to master the language has ingratiated him with his girlfriend’s family and been a great ice-breaker on nights out.
‘Dutch lessons help you spread your wings a little bit further,’ he says. ‘You’re more accepted, you have a much bigger Dutch network, and you’re more likely to be invited to parties.’
You can find out more about the courses offered by Taalthuis here.
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