Learning Dutch is a must!

Learning Dutch is a must!

Comments141 comments

Everyone living in the Netherlands has to learn Dutch. This is the message of a publicity campaign the Dutch government is about to launch urging foreigners to take their own responsibility.

The move comes amid growing concerns that immigrants don't do enough to learn Dutch.

A short information film to be frequently aired on television shows several foreigners trying to explain something to a Dutch national - and clearly failing to do so. The subtitled film ends with the caption "real life comes without subtitles", followed by a call to learn Dutch.

The film aims to show that daily life requires everyone to know Dutch to find work, talk with neighbours and doctors, and raise children. Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan, who oversees the campaign, emphasises that integration comes with obligations.

Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan:

Minister Eberhard van der Laan"People who can't make themselves understood in Dutch, should not be surprised if others don't understand them."

The campaign, the minister explains, highlights people's individual responsibility because not enough foreigners are voluntarily enrolling in an integration course.

At Radio Netherlands Worldwide, whose staff come from all over the world, everyone agrees that knowing Dutch is vital. The publicity campaign, however, prompts widely differing responses, with descriptions ranging from funny to patronising.

For Abir Saras, a Palestinian woman who has been living here for ten years, the film views the language barrier too much from a Dutch angle, making it hard for her to feel involved. She thinks a film made from a foreigner's vantage point would make more sense, something she illustrates recounting an experience of her own.
Abir Saras
"I remember how my first year here someone in a shop tried to tell me something and I started crying for not understanding, something I found hugely embarrassing. The spot should emphasise these sort of feelings instead of showing how the Dutch view foreigners."

The "Dutch" publicity campaign

The fact that the infomation film adopts a Dutch perspective may be attributed to a growing unease among the Dutch that immigrants do little to integrate and speak the language with considerable difficulty or not at all. That is what many want to change. Davion Ford, an Afro-American who has been living here for four years, says it seems as if the country has finally woken up to the need to involve foreigners in society:

Davion Ford:

Davion Ford"In the past the issue was given little thought. People perhaps even expected foreigners to return home. But that didn't happen and now something needs to be done. I find the commercial funny and not at all repellent."

Alejandro Pintamalli from Argentina sees things very differently. For him this kind of publicity campaign, reaffirming Dutch prejudices, is bound to alienate immigrants, especially those with a higher education:

Alejandro Pintamalli:

"The Dutch government and politicians press too hard for people to learn the language, which provokes a negative response. For me it has always been extremely important to learn the language-but not in this way. This kind of commercial will only backfire."

Alejandro PintamalliPintamalli would prefer the Dutch to help foreigners learn the language in the street, in the shops or as neighbours over a cup of coffee. But before helping foreigners, they should first try to understand them.

The information film will begin airing on television on Monday and will be followed by a radio and newspaper campaign. How people in the country will respond remains to be seen.

Marijke van den Berg
Radio Netherlands




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141 Comments To This Article

  • Jennifer posted:

    on 19th February 2016, 18:05:42 - Reply

    I too have memory problems (partly due to medication) and am disabled too now, though I fought against that as long as I could. I tried to learn Dutch but find it is almost impossible, I don't get any practice. I am isolated because of my disability and on the occasions I try to speak Dutch, the Dutch reply to me in English after hearing my accent. Officially, I've been told, English is the second language in the Netherlands so "must" is not valid. Encouragement should be pleasant and relaxed, I feel, rather than making us foreigners feel even more alienated than we already feel and believe me, I do feel alienated

  • Roger posted:

    on 8th April 2015, 23:48:35 - Reply

    There are several truths about the Netherlands that Dutch people don't like to hear:

    1. They want you to speak Dutch when you want to sort something official and the rest of the time are happy to persist in addressing you in English.

    2. No matter how long you are here or ho fluent you get (I've been 15 years and already had learned in Belgium), they persist in trying to 'fix' your accent , as if they don't have an accent speaking English, and never tire of correcting minute errors. If you ever happen to correct an error they make in Dutch, they sulk forever,

    3. Foreigners need to stop needlessly remarking to Dutch people about how good their English is supposed to be. The truth i that it is patchy, with a small group having very good English and a lot having middling to atrocious. This praise is what keeps people addressing you in English. I always pretended to be Russian.

    There was a time here when Dutch lessons could be had free or at low cost. The classes were full and paid for themselves in the form of more taxes when people got jobs. I had one of these courses as a 'refresher' in 2004.

    5. The fact is English (or indeed any European Union language) is an official EU language and can't be refused for official purposes.

    There are more.
  • Nelson posted:

    on 26th March 2014, 19:20:00 - Reply

    Their country, THEIR rules.
    Don't like it? Go elsewhere.
  • elvis posted:

    on 13th September 2013, 22:37:15 - Reply

    i have been here since 2006 and I never leared dutch. I am also not planning to waste my valuable time that I can otherwise use to write a paper or watch NFL games to learn duthc language.

    If the government doesn't like it, I invite them to take action.
  • red posted:

    on 9th June 2013, 15:50:18 - Reply

    Maria has it right! If you want to invade a country, get your own army!! If you want to visit, be respectful and a little fearful, you're not guaranteed anything! red, USA
  • purplegirl2010 posted:

    on 10th August 2012, 03:01:49 - Reply

    I agree in theory that you should learn Dutch but in practice everyone is different.

    For me, I met my boyfriend who became my husband, rather than going I want to move to Holland to live it is something that just happened that way.

    I am disabled and have memory problems, can be enough for me to remember I have a doctors appointment. Let alone how to say something in Dutch. My husbands family try leaving notes with words around the house. His family talk Dutch while I am there, I don't pick any up. I just don't understand. I learn maybe twenty words or more in a day, by the end of the day they ask 'what can you remember?' and I don't know!

    Some people do not find that language comes to them. If anything if they teach me dutch I think in French. It's the way my memory works.

    If I go to a store and say lekker dank you, they talk back in Dutch I have no idea what they are saying I just sit and nod. I know if I talk in English they understand but then mostly I sit in silence and smile and hope it's something I should smile at.

    I know some random words. Or like Ik hou van jou but if I was to sit and learn dutch other things would suffer as sometimes I forget where I am, what I am doing so I can't focus on dutch as well. A bit annoying since I know loads of people at home who pick up languages really easily, but because I'm the one there, alot are like 'why don't the English learn languages' well some do actually but some are not suited.
  • bari posted:

    on 21st June 2012, 03:11:41 - Reply

    What I find that helps with language acquisition in another country is the following. Do not think this is ridiculous as it can and will work. When making an effort in learning the language of the host country and confronted with people responding to me in English, I take out a piece of paper that is my signed contract with myself to NOT speak English and simply show it to them. The contract is worded in the host language's language so they will quickly understand the contents. I find that 9 out of 10 times, people with whom I have contact in the street or in a store will pay heed and start to respond in their language.
  • Anthony K posted:

    on 16th June 2012, 11:17:08 - Reply

    Being for about 3 years in the Netherlands now, I picked up Dutch fairly easy. I started out with a basic course (6 months, 2 times a week) and got into "vrijwilligerswerk" (= non paid job) wich enabled me to converse in Dutch a lot. What helped me considerably was some great Dutch music that got me into the pronunciation and rhytm of the Dutch language. Sites like youtube and statoz.com where very helpful. I'd suggest to anyone struggling, to check artists like Kempi, Yes-R, Daryll , Gers Pardoel, Keizer (trendy and younger music) or Borsato and Guus Meeuwis for older fogs.
    Dutch is above all to enjoy, no matter the negative Dutch people you'll inevitably encounter.
  • Pedro posted:

    on 11th May 2012, 12:47:42 - Reply

    I followed the integration course and the last 2 years I was following another course offered by the gemeente. That was always very frustrating, I always found classes with colleagues on extreme different levels and non-prepared teachers, mostly they don't even know much about Dutch grammar. I think the problems lies more in organization and preparation of language teachers. Dutch is a language very difficult to learn on your own and you'll never become fluent in the language alone, since the dutches in general avoid speaking Dutch with foreiners.
  • jasco13 posted:

    on 6th May 2012, 11:35:24 - Reply

    I have currently worked here in NL for 12 years now , at the onset of my employment nederlands was not a requirement , even when i asked for courses i was politely informed that it was not required and not in the budget...... alas ! two years ago i had a accident at work precluding me from my job ,which has now landed me in a re-intergration program with my employer ,and i have now been informed that any vacancy to which i apply ,will be given more priority to a nederlands speaker ! this i have written on paper and i feel is a sure sign of prejudice , i have now been offered a nederlands course , and basically ordered to participate in the course in my own free time , ,not during working hours ,with an obligation that i must sign a contract saying i will attend . I have no problem with attenting the course just the manner in which i have been treated ,which is more has a wrongdoer then someone who has been wronged.....
  • alison posted:

    on 10th April 2012, 01:35:12 - Reply

    There are several problems with the dutch language. Firstly it is really awful to listen to like a cross between Arabic and German and secondly when you try to speak it the dutch are so damned rude that they won't even let you continue. It's ashame they aren't as polite as the Belgians. Maybe then I could practice more... It made me laugh when some idiot said - just watch tv in dutch if they won't speak to you- if you can't practice you never learn. But when it's made so difficult and it's so ugly why bother?
  • Diana posted:

    on 9th January 2012, 20:13:35 - Reply

    I can't think how negative a lot of people are being. I keep my boat in Zeeland and travel back and forward from England. I don't need to learn Dutch but it's giving me great pleasure. People are kind and patient with my faltering steps. The local shops are hugely encouraging. The local harbourmaster always tell me to try in Dutch and only return to English if I really can't say what I want. I also belong to a language website, livemocha, and Dutch people have given me enormous help with my written Dutch - and I am astonished at the quality of grammatical advice that i've had. My experience is that the Dutch are kind and courteous people - or at least they are in Zeeland!
  • Kathryn Mullins posted:

    on 5th January 2012, 17:27:20 - Reply

    Many years ago my dad was transferred To Holland. I didn't know a word of Dutch, but I was tutored and attended a Dutch speaking high school. The rewards were and are so tremendous. Why live in a country if you don't speak the language?That is the true way to learn and live the culture.
  • Lily posted:

    on 26th October 2011, 03:52:48 - Reply

    I read a few posts about how it's pointless that the film is in Dutch. Ok, yes this film targets foreigners, but tell me how they can use all of the languages of the world to make their point. At least the foreigners who watch the film will likely understand enough dutch to get the point. Some people in these posts don't seem to realize how many languages there are out there!
  • Joyce posted:

    on 5th October 2011, 12:34:17 - Reply

    I agree that the film comes across as pointless as they have directed it towards Dutch speakers when it should have been in English/other languages.

    I don't see the point in complaining about whether the Dutch speak Dutch to you or not (there are comments from people wanting this and those that don't so they can practice). If you want to practice in Dutch, then continue speaking it, even when the Dutch speak to you back in English. Who cares if they speak English to you, if you want to hear Dutch, you can watch TV, online videos (youtube and www.2bdutch.nl). I've often found the Dutch will switch back into Dutch if you continue. You can't control them, only yourself! Also, google Benny Lewis blog for some fabulous tips on how to learn a language...he learned Dutch in 3 months so it's possible!

    Being less critical and more enthusiastic helps you be open to the possibilities.
  • Meister posted:

    on 17th September 2010, 08:58:58 - Reply

    Even if you learn Dutch you will always be viewed as a foreigner. Integration in Holland is a joke. What Casper says is very true. The Dutch give each other the same amount of attitude.
  • cracken posted:

    on 12th September 2010, 16:44:22 - Reply

    I'm from the randstad (den haag) and don't worry we're not phobic against expats, we just have something against anyone not from den haag, that includes people from other parts of de randstad and beyond.
    So instead feel accepted due to the fact you get the same disdain as any other person would, dutch or otherwise.
    It's just a typical dutch city-mentality.
  • Barbara posted:

    on 5th September 2010, 01:19:09 - Reply

    I lived in Holland for ten years after marrying my Dutch beau. At 59, I was surprised that I had to go back to college (after 8 yrs in USA), to learn Dutch. I did it, because I wanted to fit in as best I could and at my age, it was a bit more complicated than if I had been younger. For a short time, everyone was kind to me, but as I slowly progressed with the language, using it badly, especially the verbs, I was alienated. At family functions, I was not spoken to, even on Mother's Day. I was in the circle which is at all festivities, but 99% of everyone present spoke around me, in Dutch. 100% could speak very good English, none tried to make me feel welcome. I struggled to learn the language on my own, and finally did, enough to be a shopper and able to go places alone. When trying the new language in shops, however usually the clerk would answer in English, "to practice her English" I was told. :) After struggling for ten years, we moved back to USA. I miss the two dear friends who helped me as much as they could, but I will always have sad memories of family and friends not trying to help me in my struggle. I love learning, and have been in books, and universities for years; the problem wasn't my brain, but a new language, new customs, new traditions, new family, new government, new house, new husband...all within 24 hours of moving across an ocean.
    BUT in saying all of this, I hope no one makes the Dutch give up their language. That is who they are, and how arrogant of anyone to think that one language is better than another. My Dutch sons and daughter do quite fine with their language, customs and traditions....and the grandchildren are a delight. And Dutch. Please don't even think that they should learn English as a first language. Or change their way of life and living. When there, we who want to be there need to learn all we can, but we need help. That was what was missing for me...just a simple smile and "here is how you pronounce that word" rather than the talking down that I got. When asked how long I had been in Holland, at first, I said 3 years. They would then say "And you still can't talk good Dutch." It hurt so to be criticized, so I started saying 6 months, and the answer then was "Oh, your Dutch is so good." LOL.
    One other sad point. 3 doctors and one dentist told me "go back to America" when I said, "My dentist did this" or "My doctor in America said I had IBS". No medical person wanted to hear any of my medical history, which was sad. I had high blood pressure and wanted medicine to treat it, and was refused for over a year. I now have heart failure due to untreated high blood pressure. I wasn't whining; I only wanted treatment. On the week that I left, my primary doctor apologized to me in the way I was treated. Too little, too late.
    My Dutch husband is so happy here, and my friends love to hear him talk in his faulty English and lovely accent. NO ONE criticizes his misuse of a verb or a wrong word. Ah, how I would have loved to be treated the same as an expat in Holland. Again too little, too late.
  • Canucky Woman posted:

    on 12th August 2010, 10:23:08 - Reply


    After six years of imburgeringscursus, lessons, self-study, and private tutoring, I still don't understand 80% of what is said to me. No, not everybody has the same ability to learn a language. Just as nobody as the same ability to learn anything else in life.

    I'm glad it was so easy for you, but saying things like " I learnt Dutch myself, no school, no courses, simply by listening and watching others, so it is most certainly possible to learn the language if you really want to" are not motivating, merely frustrating for those who have really tried but not succeeded.
  • avrielle posted:

    on 29th July 2010, 07:33:05 - Reply

    ...and Damsca, I have had the exact same problem as you only it was local daycares, schools, Subway, V
  • avrielle posted:

    on 29th July 2010, 07:27:06 - Reply

    I've had experiences since this commercial aired, all negative in the manner Dutch people have related to me AND ESPECIALLY when I am trying to use Dutch but make occasional mistakes or need to throw an English word in sometimes to be understood without constantly consulting my wordenboek. People have gotten very opinionated about my Dutch now and it makes me even more self conscious when I use it, taking all of the joy out of learning a new language for me. I feel very isolated and ostracized when my mistakes are pointed out in public and I am lectured on how foreigners should work more to learn Dutch. It's humiliating and very frustrating when I know I am intelligent and have something important to say and when I really am trying but finding it difficult. I can't help that so many Dutch find English so very easy to learn and use. I can't help that my brain seems really unable to memorize every grammar rule and cannot pick up a natural accent. My trying to communicate in a foreign society is sometimes scary enough without the natives becoming hostile and jumping down my throat the minute I don't do so perfectly.
  • damsca posted:

    on 21st July 2010, 19:04:46 - Reply

    I was required to do the NT2 or the inburgering and was advised to do the NT2 as (they said) it would help if i wanted to get a job or to do a higher study here. So I went for the NT2 course. It was far below my expectations.
    Firstly, I was put into an ongoing course and not everyone in the course had the same level of Dutch. I myself at that time already knew a bit of dutch because i have studied it sporadically. Secondly, all I got in the class were sample NT2 exams and then the students were basically left to do them - it was not very interactive nor informative. Very different from all the language courses I've ever done in my life. I don't need to go to the class at 8 pm just to receive some sample exams and do them. Just send me the sample exams and i'll do them at home.
    I passed the NT2 exams (both programma I and II) and that is not because of the course.
    Still it does not help me finding a job since even albert heijn refused me to be their cashier saying that my dutch was maybe not up to making conversations with their clients. But I think they just made up that excuse because:
    1. To this day, I've never really seen a cashier at AH's in my town make
    conversations with the clients. The cashier would just say the amount
    the client has to pay, ask if the client wants the receipt, and wish
    the client a good day. I'm sure with my B2 level in Dutch I can do that.
    2. I'm on the older side, so maybe they did not want to have to pay too
    high since there would be younger people applying for the job.
    3. My dutch bf said that one of the cashiers at AH did not speak too
    much dutch either but she was definitely younger than i was.

    I have diploma's from my own country and one master diploma from the Netherlands and I passed the NT2 programma II. Still I can't find a job (probably) because:
    1. My diploma's are deemed inequal to a diploma from a dutch university.
    2. I'm not an EU citizen.
    3. Of my age.
    4. No matter how good my dutch is, it is still not equal to the dutch of the
    native speakers.

    And I don't live in any of the "international" cities in the Netherlands which makes it more difficult for me to find a job.

    Learning Dutch is a must! ????? Why? Speaking dutch does not practically mean one can get a job and be integrated here.

    It would be more beneficial to:
    1. Provide a dutch course of good quality but not expensive to expats.
    2. Instead of campaigning about how learning dutch is a must, vent the
    energy in helping qualified people find a job (and a career) here.
    Been registered with CWI but so far I don't really find it very helpful.
    And i feel there is too much emphasize in forcing foreigners learning
    dutch than helping them making a life here.
  • Moriam posted:

    on 12th July 2010, 22:20:41 - Reply

    I've been living in the Netherlands for the past 13 years. Of course i speak Dutch fluently and my British accent cannot be heard when speaking Dutch. I learnt Dutch myself, no school, no courses, simply by listening and watching others, so it is most certainly possible to learn the language if you really want to.

    Ok, so some people find the pronounciation difficult. In the beginning it is, but over time you'll improve.

    The ad is actually targeted at migrants living here who do understand Dutch but cannot/refuse to speak it. It's not aimed at expats from western Europe - remember the Dutch actually love it the British/American/French/Italian accent even if they say or act as if they do not.

    The Dutch way of speaking (in English) is often confused with arrogance. This is not the case, the Dutch are very direct (so much so that they don't realise how this comes across to other nationalities). However if you respond with the same directness in English you will see the Dutch person dim quite a bit. The standard excuse for a Dutch person to get back at a foreigner is the 'Learn to speak Dutch' remark. They have nothing else to say. Although you will find this being said by the type of Dutch who have no international friends mainly.

    Also remember Amsterdam is very different to the rest of the Netherlands. If you are unfortunate to live in areas such as Brabant, Limburg, Friesland then you'll experience the Dutch differently than if you were to live in Amsterdam or Rotterdam. The Dutch do speak English, but actually not quite as well as they think they do ;-)

    If you've been living here for 20 years or so and haven't learnt the language then you really need to.

    As a Brit living here having worked for international companies, Dutch companies and now run own Dutch company I know you can achieve a lot if you speak the language WELL.

    I now have the opportunity to choose when I speak English or Dutch and I use this to my advantage in business whenever necessary. You can get to the point where you turn the tables right around and really feel respected by the Dutch, but you have to be direct and to the point with them. The Dutch liked to be convinced and can test you, but there's nothing behind it at all.

    My advice to all is don't try to become Dutch in any way. Integrate as far as learning the language, and this is more for your own benefit than anything else. Forget riding a bike! nice try, but you'll go nuts doing it. Don't celebrate Sinter Klaas unless you really want to.

    As for schools send your children to international minded schools (a lot in Amsterdam centre which are govenment funded).

    @ Anitra: My dear you are feeling lonely and lost and I have had many friends in the same situation as you but who have got out. Don't break your relationship. Fix the problem!

    For everyone, all your problems are recognisable. I have given several courses for people in your situation. It's a mixture of feeling alone, not being understood and being frustrated but there's is something you can all do to improve the situation.

    Wasn't thinking of starting up the course again any time soon, but if anyone is interested you can read about it here http://www.moriam.nl/your_new_life_abroad.html or just email me.

    All the best all!
  • Alistair Wiseman posted:

    on 30th June 2010, 22:14:48 - Reply

    Latisha. Learn Dutch for free...? lol.... chuckles... not a concept over here!
  • Latisha posted:

    on 28th June 2010, 13:05:39 - Reply

    I'd be interested to see where I can learn Dutch for free- e.g. funded by the government campaign. So far all I can find are expensive evening classes and as a european, I'm not eligible for the 'inburgers' course. I am trying to learn Dutch- of course I am, I live here, but I do find it difficult as the Dutch all speak such good English and always prefer to speak English when they detect a slight accent.
    As per many of the other comments on this board, the advert is wasted being in Dutch and rather useless when it provides problems but no solutions... Although I do like the pride the Dutch have in thier language and I sincerely hope they keep that.
  • barbara girga posted:

    on 2nd May 2010, 20:33:50 - Reply

    After reading more of the statements of others I wanted to add that I would find it so sad if the Dutch were to give up their language for English. That is not and should not be the criteria for any assimilation of others into each others lives. Keep what you have, but help us to have it also. Why move to Holland and then want them to speak English. I only ask that they tolerate us learning a new language, just as I saw myfamily members tolerating their new babies as they learned their Dutch language. I asked for the same kindness, but got none. I was also a baby in my new country. And age makes a difference, as I was/am an older woman. But I am highly educated with a Masters Degree in Counseling; I understand others, having that as a career choice. But to go to a doctor and be told to go back to America for treatment, or to be told to quit eating American breakfasts (eggs..come on, now I bought them in a Dutch store) is just as horrible to me as to have my Dutch husband told he MUST change his ways. No, let me be me, with a new Dutch language learned at the hands of those who speak it, and let him be who he is with his customs and traditions. No changes, other than to be able to communicate and live together in harmony. Nothing more, but nothing less. When I told a counselor I was so isolated, she suggested I go into town with a sign asking for a friend. Come on, now; being a counselor, this was so ridiculous. Being a person, this was even worse. I wanted to belong, not change them. So, please, don't suggest they drop their wonderful language or their traditons and culture; just accept us and help us...as my husband is being helped here in California to live in America. He is loved for his accent, for his riding his bike everywhere, for being Dutch, because THAT IS WHO HE IS. Why couldn't I have the same respect and tolerance in his country? I will always be sad, because I tried so hard, and it was NEVER enough. But, please, please don't ever suggest we change their use of their own language. That smacks of what the Mexicans are telling me here in California..that I MUST learn Spanish to speak with them. When a guest in a home, do we insist they repaint the house to suit the color we want? So it is with life...come, visit, and even stay, but don't come with an agenda. And don't put one on me other than to have me speak the language being used so we can all understand the new friendship.
  • barbara meuleman-girga posted:

    on 2nd May 2010, 20:18:12 - Reply

    I find the statement that immigrants don't do enough to learn the Dutch language amusing and frustrating. This should not be a generalized statement, nor a global one. I moved to Holland in 1997 to marry my Dutch beau and stayed for ten years. I had just finished many years of college to prepare for a career, and then fell in love, gave it all up and became an expat. I found I had to go to school again, this time to learn Dutch. I was quite willing and did, every day. BUT I had no help from ANY of the Dutch people I encountered, including my new family, to learn the language, or even the cultures and traditons. I was 59, so bars and other places for young people, held no charm. When attempting to practice in Hema and other stores, the clerks wanted to answer in English.."to practice my English" they would say when I protested. We came back to California after ten years, because I was isolated, and truly unhappy. I tried church groups, women's groups, and family festivities; I am back here, loving Holland from afar, and very busy, very happy, and very disappointed in the tolerance of the Dutch people. They look at us as if we aren't trying, but when we leave home, family, school, jobs, whatever to move to a completely new life, we need help, not criticism.
  • Nigel posted:

    on 7th April 2010, 11:53:43 - Reply

    I totally concur with the comments about the Dutch. I find them unhelpful, cold and arrogant. They will not assist at all in efforts to help you speak the language and then complain when you do not try.

    I have lived here for 20 years and even now they reply in English when I speak (albeit with an accent). I refuse now to speak the language if possible.

    If it were not for my work and Amsterdam being a lovely city (village), I would be long gone!!!
  • Karen posted:

    on 2nd February 2010, 14:16:59 - Reply

    Anitra, i can totally relate to you and say with dispair that i have too found the dutch people cold and unhelpful. I didn't come here with the belief that i would be outcast and descriminated against. I came, as a 42 year old highly educated British woman, in love with my dutch boyfriend and with the hope of integrating in everyway, including learning the language and culture. I enrolled in classes (8months so far) and try to practice my dutch at every opportunity. I watch dutch TV, learn about the news both daily and nationally. I opened a business ( i am an artist) by myself, (complicated if you do not know the system) and have since closed it due to the inability of support.
    I have to do tax returns still, but get no help from the tax office. They have refused to speak english saying it is law that they must only speak dutch. I only wanted help to find my way around the online system. I tried to speak dutch, i understood very well when the manager said that they would help if i could speak it perfectly but otherwise they would not help. I get sent bills for things i have no idea what they are for. No-one helps to translate.
    I have been laughed at when trying to ask for a carrier bag in the supermarket. I have been stared at when trying to practice my dutch only to have people respond in english but i hear the acidity within their reply. I am a foreigner and as long as i live here i will always be regarded as an intruder in this cold and unreceptive country.
    I have to say it was not my intention to feel this way but after 2 years of sincere efforts and truly i have tried, i cannot feel that this country or it's people will ever accept a foreigner. The dutch are proud of themselves and their language capabilities and yet have little tolerance of anyone other than a native dutch person. At least that is the impression i get.
    I have applied for jobs as an english teacher (my profession) and have had no reply. So i call the schools, only to be told i am not a native dutch speaker. What does that mean? Do i have to speak perfect dutch? Strange when most of the dutch people i have come across do not speak perfect dutch in fact most of them do not understand the grammatics of their own language. Not surprising since they change the grammatical rules every few years.
    I don't want to be bitter but have shed many tears trying to get around and be part of something i so wanted to be a part of.
    I speak french fluently so it is not a block against learning a language that i have, it is the block that the dutch people seem to have built all by themselves. I find that so sad. I don't know how much longer i can put up with the descrimination and prejudice in this country. i have questioned my self so deeply. Is is me? What can i do to try harder (as many dutch people say in response to my questions)? Even my partner wants to get away from his own country. He was shocked at the way i have been treated, at first disbelieving me until he saw it for himself.
    As i said earlier, Anitra, you are not alone, and i only hope that you will get well, but most of all put the nightmare of your experience behind you and move on. It is only a matter of time and i will be doing just that. I will not shed another tear for the Netherlands but will look at this as a learning curve, NEVER to be done again.
  • Anitra posted:

    on 20th January 2010, 15:54:19 - Reply

    You're right...I am now here in South Brabant and there is an aire of prejudice here that I have not NEVER ever been a part of nor understand. I am too am being forced to learn Dutch in a VERY mean and degrading environment. People are point blank rude and I really hate the Dutch people and this country. With that being said, I am ready to go back home and break off my 6 yr relationship with my Dutch boyfriend. I am disgusted by everything Dutch now. I was put in the wrong "Dutch class" EVERYONE already spoke the language, maybe not in the proper grammatical way, BUT they spoke enough to chit chat with each other and the teachers and knew enough to work. I come from Florida, in the U.S. THERE ARE NO WARM UP DUTCH CLASSES TO BE TAKEN, there are NO Dutch ANYTHING....Dutch is the hardest and most difficult language to learn, being around soft Romantic languages all my life ( I am Italian ) I thought NO PROBLEM I can learn this....oh hell no and the fact that the Dutch will out right LAUGH and make fun of a person who is trying to learn is horrid and the Dutch should be embarrassed for acting as such.
    An example of this rude issue....upon moving here 7 months ago, I had to purchase a bike....I had not ridden a bike in 17 yrs....I am doing fine until I lost my balance cause the person I was following slowed down abruptly and I fell....now do you think ANYONE around helped? Oh no it was laughing hour in Sprang-Capelle....do you know I know have permanent damage to my knee. No Dr would see and YES I have FULL health ins here, I am not a slacker. THEN 1st Dec I got sick...VERY SICK.....NO DR WOULD SEE....I was fine?!?! Granted I was coughing LONG and LOUD and had shortness of breath and eventually started to cough up red blood. The STUPID Dr was called and he called in a "strawberry fizzy tablet" TO DRINK.....WTF!! AND no this did NOT help and I remained sick up until last week....when a Dr finally came to the house, it was not the prejudice Dr I met before, it was a lady and even she kind of giggled at me as I lay in bed hardly able to breathe and my lips 5 times their size swollen and blistered, even my BOYFRIEND did not take much notice in the manner, he thought well her fever is only at 38 no problem...yea 38 for 14 days in a row....anyway I finally got an antibiotic and again YOU DRINK the damn shit tasting thing ( can we just have a pill to swallow damn ) and anyway it was too little too late...whatever I had damaged me ( I can feel it ) anyway so now I was lucky enough to get an appt with the Dr for my knee and back and neck ( I have some neck and back issues prior to moving here ) but that fall off the bike DID NOT HELP anyway, instead of the man I FIRST MET....I get yet another Dr....there is no sense of repoire or continuity with the Dutch or the doctors or the teachers, they just bounce you along to whoever, because "you are NOT one of them" "You are not Dutch" so they spit on you.

    School.....ready for some more shit.....so I go to take this "placement test" for Dutch....now I speak NONE, and I told everyone that...I need like kindergarten teaching, well I am this building taking the test, listening to a CD and answering and point out answers...I am FAILING NOT getting any right....do you know this lady FILLED MORE than HALF of the answers correctly for me!?! I was LIKE NO NO NO, I did not say that....she just smiled and played the "I speak-a-no English game" and due to that BITCH I was put in a class of people that already could SPEAK DUTCH AND when I got there, one other student was there that spoke English and the teachers were so mean to him that he eventually QUIT....now I was bounced from 4 DIFFERENT teachers since 19 Oct and the first teacher I had was good, she was nice and took pity on me....BUT she was a fill in for the teacher I was suppose to have, so the first teacher had to leave and I got bounced to another teacher, now this one REFUSED to speak any English, so let's say the building was on fire, I'd be the last to know. I would most likely burn up and die cause I would have NO IDEA what the teacher was saying AND this teacher was a class act let me tell you.....the first few weeks other students were like "hello" "where you from" then I started to notice that during break, if I came in the room NO ONE WOULD SPEAK TO ME NOR WOULD THEY SPEAK TO EACH OTHER, the moment I took 2 steps out the room, they would laugh and carry on and talk....now how the fuck am I suppose to interact and learn the language when NO ONE WILL TALK TO ME? Come to find out the TEACHER told them NOT to talk to the American girl....WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

    So to give you background on me, I am 35 and well educated. I speak a little Italian and Spanish ( living in Florida one just picks up Spanish, it’s the 2nd language there ) I am well travelled, I have been coming here for 5 yrs to visit family of my boyfriend's. When he had to come back due to health issues....I decided to follow him and I moved here June 2009 to be with him, we were apart for 8 months. Now within this time he too is returning to his "Dutch" pass. He had lived and worked in the U.S. for 15 yrs, we met there....HE NEVER spoke his language around me and when I would inquire he told me "that it is the most difficult to learn" now with that being said....do you think he helped me? In the beginning yes he did, but I was not understanding school, so I had no idea I had homework and hence after 3 hours of hell and people laughing, I did not even want to speak Dutch or hear one fucking word uttered in Dutch. We would fight, I would tell him the school and teachers were no good and he WOULD BLAME ME.......he would say I am not trying and yell at me more, and that hurt so bad, cause I could see he was turning into one of those assholes in the class that would be little me. I am stuck upstairs in a drafty bedroom....still kind of sick and in pain....I never come out and I have nowhere to go and no one to talk too. I help his mum with shopping and cleaning and that is all. We go nowhere and do nothing. I think it’s because I speak English and he is embarrassed to be seen with me. His family is just mean.....he comes from a large family and they ( the ones I have met more than once ) are SUPER MEAN and unfriendly to me BUT it was like that in Florida when his sister would come to visit. His mum and dad are OVER 80, so they do not have much to say at all. So I sit in silence all day. I have the internet to keep me in touch with my family and friends, who say I should come HOME NOW and an iPod to play my music.

    I would LOVE to come home BUT I left everything and got rid of everything to come here ( to hell ) I will and I do want to get back home BUT I need a GOOD PAYING JOB...something in bike riding distance of Sprang-Capelle....I have no car back in Florida....I will have no health ins once back in Florida, I will have no job, which means I will have to go back to school, which I am fine with, I have new career in mind for my return BUT I will need money to do all this....I resigned from a GREAT bank job to come here....and this is what I get....prejudice.

    I went to college to be a Paralegal and I ended up working for an Immigration Attorney in Florida ( ironic huh ) from 1999 to 2002 anyway I dealt with people from ALL over the world EVERYDAY, I have talked to people from countries that YOU have probably never heard of, anyway we NEVER EVER treated the people that walked in that office the way I have been treated here. I had a FOLDER full of contacts of people that spoke whatever language was needed to help the immigrant fit it and feel at home, I even had a cheat list of basic sayings in over 20 languages to chit chat a bit with the newbie.....I guess Florida Immigration Attorney's are a step up on the food chain in respect and dignity. Cause here in South Brabant there is nothing but HATE and TEARS and PREJEDUCE against anyone who is not 6ft tall with blonde hair and blue eyes and the ability to speak Dutch.

    I just want to go home now....I dread waking up everyday.....I hate it here.
  • ayad noufel posted:

    on 17th January 2010, 02:19:53 - Reply

    i don't have any problem with the fact that if someone wants to live in the Netherlands then they should be able to speak the language,
    the problem is when this is done by force , it gets a negative impact on the learner.
    also dutch people (most of them) have no respect what so ever for someone who does not speak dutch.
    my question for the gov, is : whats the plan after the integration? i see many people from different backgrounds were born here and still not accepted as (nederlander).
    my advise for narrow minded people is : wake up and look around, there are more than 200 countries and thousands of spoken languages in the world and it's 2010, so we are not living in (gouden eeuw) any more.
    i was born in Kurdistan, so i'm Kurdish and i never become dutch or English or...etc.
    as i said before i dont have any problem learning dutch, in fact i just passed my (centraal examen) for NV2 . i love learning new languages BUT not by force.
    i really don't care if my dutch neighbour likes me or not, if he afraid of foreigners or not, as long as i don't break the laws and respect who deserves (RESPECT)
  • robert pohl posted:

    on 13th January 2010, 14:39:10 - Reply

    the main reason I went to Amsterdam to visit a European city was because I know everyone spoke English. So I could travel around NL with some security that I could be understood and my needs would be meet. MY point is that speaking English is a great plus for tourism. To force one to learn Dutch will be very very difficult; and the law will unenforceable... go back to the original reason reason for teaching English in the first place to the Dutch citizen
  • David posted:

    on 23rd December 2009, 12:14:10 - Reply

    @Wendy - go girl, haha, too true! ... or two true? ;-)

    As with most expat sites it seems a mixture of people who are in their new country "honeymoon" and think everything is great or those who just hate it all and miss home.

    The film is a little silly as it is much harder to learn another language as an adult and frankly you can speak English to everyone here. Took me two to three years to get a Dutch reply in shops and restaurants here as the detection of an English accent made everyone try to accommodate me.

    I think an advert that was more about encouraging immigrants to speak Dutch by speaking slowly to them and listening carefully would be good.

    There is a growing resentment to people who don't make an effort to assimilate and across most of Europe a growing resentment to the anglophone, which seems to bundle the UK with America and other English countries as that part of the world that thinks it's cultural and economic approach is superior (but gave us the Iraq war and credit crisis). There is also a wariness of muslim culture due to extremism and women's rights.

    There will always be friendly and not-so-friendly people any where. I have many Dutch friends who have gone out of their way to help me integrate and get things done here. A few laughs at my Dutch and accent is well worth that.

    I work in an English language office and am not near the level that I could work in Dutch, a mixed blessing as my Dutch only progresses at weekends. However I am really enjoying understanding the language quite well now and also being able to have very light conversations.

    The advert may not be perfect, but governments aren't usually good at adverts. Lighten up everyone and learn a bit of Dutch :-)

  • Wendy posted:

    on 4th December 2009, 22:18:33 - Reply

    Not surprised you had trouble with the Dutch language. You don't even speak your mothertongue properly. "would of learned if did not get this behaviour"? What does that mean?

    I'd say take your 100,000 Euro treasure and go!

  • Alistair Wiseman posted:

    on 4th November 2009, 17:06:25 - Reply

    I should also add. Learning a language in your own country (like the majority of Dutch people will have done with English), is a very different beast to learning the language of the country you are now living in.
  • Alistair Wiseman posted:

    on 4th November 2009, 16:21:05 - Reply

    I advise people to read this looking for amusement while noticing some rather valid points. I especially would like to point out the disclaimer and the second to last paragraph starting with "For those Dutch/other people who tell people that they have not learned Dutch because they are lazy,". I think it sums up quite a lot of the difficulties faced by the ex pat here.

    Joe states "because learning it (Dutch) transforms you from being a guest to being an intruder in the eyes of the natives.


    I moved to Leiden 2 years ago to be with my gf who is now my wife. She is Dutch. I moved here from the Uk. I'm 35.

    It is psychologically proven that a persons capacity to learn a new language diminishes with age.

    At school, many years ago, I was given the choice of learning French, or not learning at all another language. I chose not to learn one. As of up until 2 years ago, I've never required another language, and as I am in Holland, and Dutch wasn't available, I appear to have made the right decision.

    Having lived in the Uk in northern working-mens towns, attitudes towards foreigners not speaking English were more than a touch xenophobic. That's something I'm accustomed to.

    My brother teaches languages. We never really got along once he became an adult. He's 12 years older than me. Always has been in fact. He was teaching languages by the time I was given the choice as to which one I might like to supplement my English with. Oh, and I use the singular correctly! I believe I have already expounded upon the resulting outcome of that choice.

    My wife, being born in The Netherlands, has been learning languages since she was old enough to be programmed to do so by the education system. Her English is good enough to be thought of as a native speaker, especially now that, and I fear I have to take credit for this although it offends my natural modesty, the Americanisms which infiltrate Dutch English, have been suitably obliterated.

    So far, I have had no need to learn the language. I have shown a desire to, having acquired various CD roms and other web orientated learning programs. My Mother in Law teaches non Dutch people Dutch, via English. The hand of learning has not been extended. I cannot as yet make up my mind as to whether this is a good or bad thing. After all, she is my Mother in Law. I'm seeing the word "Intruder" float about my consciousness looking for something to connect with.

    Being familiar with the Uk program of teaching basic English as a second language for free (much like happens in the US of A), I set about trying to find something of that ilk over here. This caused much discombobulation for those whom I made inquires to, and much consternation for myself at their subsequent reactions.

    It appears that the concept of Free Basic Dutch is only available for those from outside the EU. I might be forgiven for thinking that perhaps, this might have something to do with economic reasons, rather than perhaps extending the hand of knowledge. But then I was always a sceptic.

    I have, on many occasions, and with great loquaciousness, expounded on my "I've not needed Dutch so far", to various people with whom I have conversed. I add my thoughts upon this which go something along the lines of as follows :
    "I always feel rude not speaking the native language. Much of the English speaking world carry with them an arrogance which says something along the lines of "You should speak my language so I don't have to speak yours".. which is perpetuated by many schools being dis-interested in teaching languages. I am not like that. I do feel rude, I feel like I am imposing upon you, the None Native English Speaker, restrictions in communications and that is not fair."

    It is, in my opinion, a difficult concept for people to grasp who have never experienced the psychological effects of living in a mono-linguistic, often insular and xenophobic community, that I, the willing to learn yet none Dutch speaking ex pat, says that I have not required Dutch to live here, because they have no point of reference to work on. It is also difficult to grasp that, after the initial show of willingness, a person will eventually think "Sod it!".

    A person arrives with, more often than not, no experience of any Dutch whatsoever, and with their barriers already up (see above), and these barriers are reinforced by bureaucratic non sequiturs, a people which can actually communicate with a certain degree of proficiency in English anyway, and the fact that to actually learn Dutch academically will cost an inordinate, ney, extortionate amount!

    I believe I may have mentioned my wife is Dutch. Asides from her family, her social scene since I have arrived here has consisted of.... me and my new friends over here. Her Dutch friends, and I use that word really really wanting to substitute it for acquaintances, call on the phone maybe once every 6 months. She, reciprocates. Every 6 months. I have no concept of this. It is bizarre beyond belief to me. Her family live a few kilometers away. (25-35ish?). They have visited as many times as my sister has in 2 years. My sister lives in Sweden. Both used the same mode of transport, the car to get to us. It's just that my sis traveled 1600k more.

    So when we go out, we go to the local British bar. There are many Dutch people within, and they speak Dutch between themselves and English to us, often not recognising that my wife is Dutch. She socialises with my (and now her) English / various other nationality friends (there are Danish, American, South African and French people as well), and now actually gets to interact with people rather than just having work and me as her whole life. That has to be healthier than, and I can only judge from what I have experienced, what she seemed to think was the normal way to be.

    And so no. Learning Dutch is not a must. It is not a prerequisite, and I have happily survived without it. For everyone who says "You need to learn Dutch to fully experience the culture", i say "poppycock!" (which apparently according to Stephen Fry derives from Dutch).

    For those Dutch/other people who tell people that they have not learned Dutch because they are lazy, I say this : You probably have no concept of quite the size of the task being asked, because, to many, learning a new language is not just about learning new words and new pronunciations, it's far more than that. It is about self expression. About who you are. It is about taking away from someone all that they are, block by block, and then attempting to reassemble it, but with a mirror! (and possibly upside down!) My passion for self expression is legendary in my world! Take that away from me and I cease to be me. Tell me I have to use a concise version, I cease to be me. Some people, are simply not willing to risk sacrificing themselves in this way.

    To be honest, I don't blame them.


    disclaimer : I am aware that my wifes social life/family may not be indicative of all dutch society. Please don't reply with bla bla not the norm... it IS the norm for where I am living, because I live with her and can only relate to how I find it here. I came here to be with her, not for the culture, the language, the inlaws, the work, the income tax rates, the stupidly high prices for housing, so again, please, don't give me any of this "You moved here so you should..."etc etc. I've made more than enough "sacrifices" coming here to have new ones "Imposed" upon me. Ye gods I miss Real Ale from a Hand Pump in a tapped and vented barrel!!

  • Brian posted:

    on 26th October 2009, 21:16:17 - Reply

    Minister van der Laan does several things the first he does not say that EU citizens are not required to do the Dutch Integration Course and if they do wish to do the course they must pay the 1500 euro fee. The second point people from outside the EU are required to do the Dutch Integration Course which is GRATIS. As of August 2009 about 25-30K people from outside the EU signed up for the Integration Course out of a total of 50K.
    With the number of people signing up that low I would suggest allowing EU Citizens the chance to do the course.

    It is important for buitenlander's to learn the language and culture whether it is for life or for a vacation. With understanding comes acceptance.

    One other point I would like to make Dutch people and most other nationalities judge a person on the colour of their skin. My partner is Dutch and I am Irish. She has a darker skin than my bluey white skin (I need several days in the sun just to get wit). We joke that I am her mail order husband. When some Dutch people see us they I am Dutch and my partner is the buitenlander.

    Our son was born in hospital (we both wanted a huis delivery) due to our son having appeared to have stopped growing. A pret echo high-lighted this. The nursing staff were fantastic. One kinderarts in particular would not tell us what they thought our son "might" have stating "you will only worry and look on th internet. I told her "just because I do not speak Dutch does not mean that I am brainless and as his father I have a right to know". The doctor thought she knew best and I did not know where to go to resolve the situation. It was thirty days before the "kinderarts" decided "now I am ready to tell you what your son has, We had just got our son home from I.C.U. The doctor told us his syndrome and that she is the expert in the hospital for that syndrome. We later found out that was a total lie. After making a formal complaint about that kindrarts, she was present during the complaint making, Not sure why she was there. We where told to find another hospital and Kinderarts. We where taken aback by all that had already transpired. I found out that this is the way that this particular hospital does business, even though to an outsider it looks somewhat suspect. Our son now attends a better hospital in all aspects. Health is important, making informed decisions is part of being healthy. I have been informed in English about all of our sons treatment.

    Vaccines was another stumbling block for us. It seem alot of Dutch people follow and believe what their government tells them, no question asked. I know vaccines contain adjuvants and enquired about which ones would be present in them. Basically we were told by the Dutch government not to worry about them as they where in such small concentrations that they would have no ill effect on our sons health. Now autism, ADHD and other conditions have been linked to vaccines mercury (thimerosal). Being from N Ireland I have a healthy distrust of government advice when it come to health or anything else for that matter I have a brain and can educate myself on the truth. The swine flu vaccine was swiftly passed by EU Health authorities without testing. Also today the German government will be giving 2 different vaccines to the german people one (without adjuvants) which will be for the government ministers and the other vaccine (with adjuvants) squalene being one for the German people. Toxic Vaccine Syndrome or death's anyone ??

    Languages and cultures can be different but people are all the same visual differences aside of course. Being Irish I know about racial discrimination. As long we we didnt speak the English could not tell that we where Irish. As some people think having ginger hair does not an Irish man make.

    The Dutch language and all other languages are not difficult to learn. What makes languages difficult is a persons own belief that "I cannot learn this language" or that the language is too difficult to learn.

    The Irish language was virtually wiped out by an occupying country. Irish was forbidden to be spoken on pain of death. In a way the Dutch where lucky insofar as the language and to a degree the Dutch culture remains intact.

    A hint to make speaking Dutch easier. Speak Dutch with a Scottish accent will help a lot. Gaelic people have "gh" which is pronounce the same as the "g" in dutch and sch is also easier to pronounce for me when I link those to my own language (even though my Gaelic is less that my Dutch). I have also noticed that some Dutch accents are similar to English accents Eg Liverpool and Newcastle and also if there is an accent called Farmer as I have noticed farmers from Ireland and Holland talk with the same accent.

    One thing to remember when immigrating to another country is that we are the foreigners and we can integrate, EU citizen or not(although GRATIS lesson's sounds good).
    For all people to have the same opportunities in Holland is better.

  • Mahaij posted:

    on 21st October 2009, 11:28:15 - Reply

    If you try to speak Dutch and people respond back in English, just tell them that you speak no english, and you come from Congo, or so so there is no chance for them to speak your language. As long as you can't speak english they will be forced to speak slowly in Dutch so you can understand.
    In order to aplly this you need to kanow dutch at least at the beginers level. Good luck
  • Holly265 posted:

    on 2nd October 2009, 22:08:52 - Reply

    Joe posted: 01-07-2009 | 5:12 PM
    "Dutch is an extremely simple language, very easy to learn for a native English speaker. Pronunciation can be difficult, but it shouldn't take more than a few months to get very proficient in reading and reasonably proficient in writing in Dutch. Dutch has a vocabulary of no more than 1000 basic words, most of which have a very similar cognate in English. All other terms in Dutch are either directly borrowed from English or formed by stringing a descriptive selection of those basic words together. For example: Zieken (plural of sick, ill) and Huis (house) together form Ziekenhuis (house for multiple sick people, i.e. hospital). Knowledge of this simple grammar rule and the 1000 basic words is enough to understand any sign and read any paper.

    As for speaking the language, I am not convinced anyone does it. In my 6 years here, I have not heard the local language spoken once, nor have I met a native speaker in person. "

    In what alternate universe do you live in, Joe?
  • Almi posted:

    on 15th September 2009, 02:10:17 - Reply

    I agree with the perspective of Mr. Pintamalli. However I know it is important to learn the language and culture of the country that you chose to live in, I believe that these types of pressures from part of the Dutch government can really backfire specially on professional immigrants. It make me feel like I am been treated like an uneducated person which I am not, I find the commercial insulting and not at all in tune with all of the expat community.

    Today I had my integration intake interview, sadly the person who was giving me the orientation was completely disconnected with reality. When I was asked by her if I had plans to study here in the future I answer to her: "Yes I plan to study my masters degree next year" her response was: "Well you are aware that for that you need to have at least a level 5 Dutch" (this was with a slight attitude in her voice) I gladly responded to her: "Well thankfully most higher level programs of prestigious universities here offer a wide variety of masters and PhD's degree completely in English" This of course came to a surprise to her. With this I want to prove the point that the expat community in The Netherlands consist of a very varied mix of cultures and levels of education, this is something that every Dutch needs to take into account. There are numerous expats willing to learn the Dutch language and culture, including me but I refuse to be insulted and mistreated. Treat people with respect if you want them to treat you and your culture with respect...

  • Pepe posted:

    on 7th September 2009, 10:24:21 - Reply

    Well, what can you expect from people who were occupied by Germans during the WWII and now the racist political party is the second most voted?

    I am from Spain and I live here for 6 months, and I have found Dutch people quite polite, that's ok, but they are racist against latins, that is for sure, they just ignore you or tell you that they don't like foreigns like you, explicitly.

    You have no rights here if you are foreigners, at all, neither any aids. Foreigners in my country are treated wonderfully. For instance, I thought I had the right to learn Dutch enrolling this inborgering courses, I did everything but I came across the following answer: "as long as you are from Spain you don't have the right to have free Dutch lessons".

    I'm a bit fed up with all this, Dutch prefer to help lazy arabic people than professionals like me, who are making some Dutch business profitable. That might be because one of their most important feature is racialism, something they learned well from Germans spoiling them.

    I will be back to Spain soon, with all the money I have made here and hopefully I wont come across any drunk Dutch in my hometown, because I swear I'll give them more hell than they did to me.
  • dora posted:

    on 6th September 2009, 19:48:05 - Reply

    Inasmuch as I agree with some of the comments made, it is important to point out that in all recent discussions on the issue that I am aware of there is a certain disregard to the fact that to most people in the Netherlands a good mastery of the English language signals that the speaker is a highly educated foreigner. In contrast, when clumsily attempting to speak Dutch - which is unavoidable when one is new to the language - one tends to be more or less automatically classified as a low-qualified immigrant if English is not their mother tongue - or, if it is, as an "illiterate" American notoriously incapable of learning a foreign language.
    Given that the Dutch grossly overestimate their knowledge of English, a little less prejudice against the "allochtonen" can certainly help both sides.
    I am sorry to say but it is hard to believe that the overblown concerns whether or not foreigners should speak Dutch or not are more than a poorly disguised anti-immigrant right-wing rhetorics espoused in recent years even by the more moderate parties. How come this was not an issue 15 years ago?
  • Ann Brown posted:

    on 3rd September 2009, 06:40:39 - Reply

    My personal belief is that if you intend to live in the Netherlands for the long haul whether to be with your spouse or for love of the country, it is in your best interest to have some knowledge/control of Dutch.

    It is a totally differenct scenario for expatriates who are solely in the country because of a job and will be leaving after 3-5 years. In this case, I could see there being less of an incentive to learn Dutch, as they will be moving on to another country when the job assignment changes.

    However, for others like myself who are building families with a Dutch partner and actually intend to spend the rest of our lives here, it is imperative that we learn Dutch. By not doing so, we run the risk of living in a very small, boxed-in world wherein we are confined to living in Amsterdan and other urban centres, cannot fully understand what our colleagues are saying around us or participate, having only \"Expat friends\" or cannot fully exploit the employment/ educational opportunites and in essence feeling marginalised, living on the fringes of the "real Dutch society" (whatever that is).

    For me, it does not take the Dutch government saying that "Dutch is a Must\". Intrinsically, for myself and for my unborn children, I know that speaking and understanding the language is important.
  • Nishchal posted:

    on 31st August 2009, 10:12:28 - Reply

    Cón guys! If you like to live in any land (other than yours) for a longtime, you must learn the traditions and language of that land.
    Dutch people are very helpful and tolerant. It does not mean that they should forget Dutch language and catch up with your language in their land. Makes sense isn\'t it? So, get down to business, join a Dutch speaking program (Gemeente will help you too).
  • Alan posted:

    on 26th August 2009, 15:17:44 - Reply

    There's no discussion: If you come to a new country, you must learn the language, accept the culture, otherwise why bother coming?

    I'm French and all people complaining about the dutch should never come living in France, because if they don't learn the language here, they won't last here for long.

    On the other hand, what always makes me crazy (as I'm still learning Dutch) is that indeed, when you try to speak dutch, people will make very little effort to help you. Pronunciation is difficult with this language, and when you speak it badly, they will just look at you as you're from another planet, or switch to english.

    There's a big problem: Everyone can survive in the Netherlands just by speaking English, so foreigners make little effort to really integrate and learn the language.

    On the other hand, Dutch often live in closed circles and won't help you learn the language or integrate.

    Knowing that there is already too many people living in this small country, culture tensions will only lead to bigger problems.
  • Caterina posted:

    on 24th August 2009, 12:54:55 - Reply

    Hello all,

    It is very interesting to see that this debate has been going on for quite a while now. I saw the whole conversation just now, so it was interesting to read different points of view on the matter.
    I will have to agree with luciana: Once you choose to live in a foreign country, you have to accept the fact that you are moving to a different culture, part of which might be a foreign language. English might be a lingua franca now, but this does not mean that all other languages have to be banished from the face of the planet for the sake of convenience (whose convenience exactly?). I personally like the Dutch language so it was with no second thought that started classes after my second month in the country. It is indeed expensive and I am afraid many times teachers are terrible, and this is not very encouraging, but eventually I went to the BLTC and was really pleased with the outcome. I am now giving some time to what I have learnt to soak in, but I will definitely continue there for the next level.
    Yes, the Dutch can make your life a bit difficult when it comes to practicing, but I always reply in Dutch --stubbornly-- and eventually they get the message. Having said that, on the other hand they do offer free conversation meetings with natives, thanks to one of which my speaking skills have improved. If it wasnt for this Dutch lady s patience, I definitely would have been less confident and think twice before saying anything, thus missing a chance to practice and improve. I believe that not many countries in the world do that for immigrants who choose to live there.
    Nevertheless, I must say that I was really annoyed at the attitude of many many foreigners that live here, who, in an amazingly arrogant way, claim that they don not need Dutch to survive here! We are talking about people who consider themselves educated (and some of them are), yet are incapable of realizing that making some effort to speak the language of the country you are living in is pure courtesy; even if your Dutch might not be the greatest, it shows you actually bother to get out of your coccoon and risk making mistakes or not being understood. After all, the Dutch do get out of their way to speak to people in English, even though it is not their mother tongue.
    Finally, I think the ad is a result of the Dutch realizing that their famous tolerance is actually backfiring on them, since they have a very big community of people, of very conservative religious and cultural backgrounds, who haven not made a step ahead since they came here but, on the contrary, seem to stick even more to their narrow-minded attitude generation after generation, yet reaping every benefit that living in a different culture includes.
    For those who do actually bother to see what Dutch is about, well done, guys, a new language is always a plus, not because of the knowledge it offers, but because it actually makes us realize we are not the only ones on this planet and that moving (on the globe, in this case) usually also means being open and curious and interested about what is going on around us, the passport to which is, among other things, language.
  • Peter K posted:

    on 2nd August 2009, 20:41:31 - Reply

    Been here for three months. Would love to learn Dutch but cannot afford the prices for lessons (everage 400euros for 30 hours in a group). From what I understand, I would be able to have government discounted or free Dutch lessons if I was not an EU citizen, but since I am I cannot be forced to be integrated
  • luciana_ramos posted:

    on 30th July 2009, 13:32:14 - Reply

    As Sir said, all post have its truth.
    I agree that the commercial is offense because assume that foreigners don't want to learn Dutch. We do our best to learn everyday a new word, new sentence and use them daily. Knowing that Dutch are biligual makes us a littlle bit lazy in learning Dutch, since we assume we will get aways always with English. It is not true. Many time ( in only 2 months here) dutches in A'dam who don't speak English at all.
    If you go to Brasil, for example, you will have to learn portuguese to communicate, to survive there. Most brazilians are not able to easily switch to english like I see here.
    Since I only live here for 2 months, I have not experienced a lot that is written in the post above. What I can say is:
    a) everytime I try to speak my broken dutch, even thank you, they reply in dutch; never tried to speak english with me; They always smile and encourange me to keep it on with the famous "heel goed"
    b) I was surprised to receive a letter from the gemente telling me that they will provide dutch free lesson for me. This will save me a lot of euros.
    c) In USA there is not support for you to learn English for free. I ldon't know how it was years ago, but I am please to sabe some euros with a free dutch course. Luckily, you will find a library thar offers a conversation club for free so you can improve your daily conversartion. Still they do not teach grammar.
    d) You chose to live in different country for whatever reason. Thus, you must do a small effort to integrate. Even thought you believe that the language is useless. No knowledge is useless.

  • luciana_ramos posted:

    on 30th July 2009, 13:26:20 - Reply

    As Sir said, all post have its truth.
    I agree that the commercial is offense because assume that foreigners don't want to learn Dutch. We do our best to learn everyday a new word, new sentence and use them daily. Knowing that Dutch are biligual makes us a littlle bit lazy in learning Dutch, since we assume we will get aways always with English. It is not true. Many time ( in only 2 months here) dutches in A'dam who don't speak English at all.
    If you go to Brasil, for example, you will have to learn portuguese to communicate, to survive there. Most brazilians are not able to easily switch to english like I see here.
    Since I only live here for 2 months, I have not experienced a lot that is written in the post above. What I can say is:
    a) everytime I try to speak my broken dutch, even thank you, they reply in dutch; never tried to speak english with me; They always smile and encourange me to keep it on with the famous "heel goed"
    b) I was surprised to receive a letter from the gemente telling me that they will provide dutch free lesson for me. This will save me a lot of euros.
  • Joe posted:

    on 28th July 2009, 16:12:59 - Reply

    Life in the Netherlands before learning Dutch compared to life here after learning Dutch is like the difference between watching monkeys in a Zoo throwing poop at each other on the one hand and being stuck in their cage with all the monkeys throwing poop at you on the other.
    Don't bother learn Dutch. Not because it's not worth it, or because there is something wrong with the language itself, but because learning it transforms you from being a guest to being an intruder in the eyes of the natives.
  • sir posted:

    on 27th July 2009, 01:54:40 - Reply

    All postings have a lot of truth,
    true, to live on a longer term in NL, Dutch is important and a matter of respect one has to contribute to his host country.
    True, Dutch is not he most important language, however there are still more than 30 Million speaking it natively in three continents
    If you compare the bigger international languages, it is unlikely that someone from Spain will bring it very far in Birmingham, neither do I believe that someone from Liverpool will have an easy time in Madrid, Montevideo or La Paz with English only. Never mind that you wouldn't get anywhere in France without French, regardless the time you planned to stay . Struggles of keeping National identity alive is not an issue NL is fighting with alone. There are quite a number of smaller nations with in the EU, having same issue. ( Imagine the tiny Luxembourg, where almost half the population is of Portuguese origin, another 20 percent either French, German, Belgium. another five % from elsewhere and the rest is "genuine Letzeburgisch". Interesting enough, I cannot recall any attempt of the Luxembourg governement comparable to the recent Dutch efforts.)
    True, it is quite a challenge to force Dutch natives to speak local language instead of English. Whether they do it out of politeness (which in many means would then be limited to this particular attitude) or whether they intuitively need to show off there language skills even when no one ask for it .... the truth is probably in between. (read also "the Undutchable")
    So whilst I do believe that local language skills are a compulsory for everyone not living in his native home country, I agree that the spot as such has failed its purpose and can be quite insulting. It makes me worried, as I am convinced such values as "national identity" do not belong in a time of globalisation- Being an enemy of Multiculti, which is only a left-wing tainted form of apartheid, I do believe that Netherlands could start learning how other multilingual countries (CH,IRL,BE,ES,RU etc) are dealing with the matter in a cosmopolitan approach, By the way, since the Netherlands are a bilingual country (Dutch and Fries) the Fries minority could make a legal issue out of the the TV spot as it undermines its own efforts to keep "national identity" alive. Would make in interesting lawsuit for The Hague to be dealt with
  • iaminholland posted:

    on 19th July 2009, 22:15:27 - Reply

    I agree with the heading of this Article and its true if you want to stay longer in the netherlands then you have to learn dutch to understand the rules and regulations. I am here for two year and first year was little bit difficult but after completion of my basic dutch course I can understand what people are talking about and what is written in the letter.

    IMHO, learning dutch is must to survival in the netherland...!!

  • Frank posted:

    on 12th July 2009, 13:33:42 - Reply

    I'm Dutch myself and I have an Indonesian girl friend living in the multicultural city Rotterdam. I push her to speak Dutch better as it's important for finding a job other than cleaning. Unlike other Europeans we are bi- or trilingual. Especially kids from migrants. Everywhere you go you can use English to communicate. Ofcourse for integration learning Dutch is important. Reading official Dutch documents is hard for my girl friend, but having a Dutch friend helps a lot. We also believe in freedom of speech, religion, sexual preference, political believes, etc. We are quite liberal in that. Most foreignors don't have a clue what we are or where we live.
  • Foreigner posted:

    on 11th July 2009, 17:34:43 - Reply

    The ad should say simply: "Dutch don't like skilled foreign workers and are usually xenophobes". It should also broadcast abroad.

    Also, typical foreigner may not have time to learn Dutch. If you add all difficulties of Dutch life - finding a flat takes ages, agreements are not respected, goods are crap - there is little time.

    I just realized why Dutch look like overage hippies. Because their society is too disorganized to look better - even if one wished.
  • Iftikhar posted:

    on 8th July 2009, 16:40:55 - Reply


    Migrants and their children must learn the language of their host country so that they can easily integrate with the natives. At the same time, migrants must make sure that their children must learn and maintain their mother tongues so that they can keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry. It is a crime against humanity if they are unable to keep in tpouch with their monther tongues. It will give ethem self-confidence and self-esteem and they will not suffer from identity crises in a foreign country.

    Migrnat children need state funded schols with bilingual teachers as role models during their developmental periods. They need to learn and be well versed in the language of the host country to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity.
  • hph posted:

    on 8th July 2009, 12:22:53 - Reply

    I live in West and had the exact same experience as mims.

    Literally, the attitude was, "You are EU? You are exempt, you don't have to take the course."

    When I asked the man how I could ever hope to integrate without learning Dutch he said, "Even if you learnt to speak like mij moeder you will never integrate. You will always be foreigner..."

    Way to motivate.
  • mims posted:

    on 3rd July 2009, 19:46:01 - Reply

    i went to the ind -voluntarily,asking that i would like to enroll in the integration courses and learn the language and was told that i is not compulsury foreu citizens.i insisted that i would like to do it anyway but was told that if i wanted to i should go and find a course and learn the language at my own expense.ok ,i said where should i enroll that you can recomend,shoulders were lifted heads were scratched and still no answer.
    acording to rotterdam council its compulsary so why am i not getting any assistance.
    then i was sent to my local government ,they sent me back to the ind ,that sent me back to the local government,lol,well at least i had some walks,but still got no assistance with learning the language with a government suggested class.
    why should i bother than and it will be interesting if i will be asked in a couple of years why is my dutch so bad..
    if its compulsary to know the language than the gopvernment should do more about accepting people in government funded clases in an enviroment where you can take you time learning the language properly and at a normal pace instead of sending us to private crash courses which i took that do not really help you learn the language well
  • mims posted:

    on 3rd July 2009, 19:45:52 - Reply

    i went to the ind -voluntarily,asking that i would like to enroll in the integration courses and learn the language and was told that i is not compulsury foreu citizens.i insisted that i would like to do it anyway but was told that if i wanted to i should go and find a course and learn the language at my own expense.ok ,i said where should i enroll that you can recomend,shoulders were lifted heads were scratched and still no answer.
    acording to rotterdam council its compulsary so why am i not getting any assistance.
    then i was sent to my local government ,they sent me back to the ind ,that sent me back to the local government,lol,well at least i had some walks,but still got no assistance with learning the language with a government suggested class.
    why should i bother than and it will be interesting if i will be asked in a couple of years why is my dutch so bad..
    if its compulsary to know the language than the gopvernment should do more about accepting people in government funded clases in an enviroment where you can take you time learning the language properly and at a normal pace instead of sending us to private crash courses which i took that do not really help you learn the language well
  • Kees posted:

    on 1st July 2009, 19:40:39 - Reply

    Everyone's talking about the Netherlands, but they also speak dutch in the Flemish part of Belgium (: just so you now, cause I don't think that everyone nows that
    they have a different accent though
  • Joe posted:

    on 1st July 2009, 17:12:40 - Reply

    Dutch is an extremely simple language, very easy to learn for a native English speaker. Pronunciation can be difficult, but it shouldn't take more than a few months to get very proficient in reading and reasonably proficient in writing in Dutch. Dutch has a vocabulary of no more than 1000 basic words, most of which have a very similar cognate in English. All other terms in Dutch are either directly borrowed from English or formed by stringing a descriptive selection of those basic words together. For example: Zieken (plural of sick, ill) and Huis (house) together form Ziekenhuis (house for multiple sick people, i.e. hospital). Knowledge of this simple grammar rule and the 1000 basic words is enough to understand any sign and read any paper.

    As for speaking the language, I am not convinced anyone does it. In my 6 years here, I have not heard the local language spoken once, nor have I met a native speaker in person.
  • Peter posted:

    on 1st July 2009, 13:00:47 - Reply

    Although friends will speak English to you, bureacrats, tax offices and utilities will not. From personal experience, they will also not hesitate to bully, scam and fine money out of you if they know you cannot talk back. Save money - learn Dutch.
  • the_other posted:

    on 25th June 2009, 18:11:40 - Reply

    because the dutch way is"one can never be too liberal"

    not for me
  • the_other posted:

    on 25th June 2009, 18:08:28 - Reply

    they will say learn dutch but they wont and they will import more immigrants and in 20 years youll all have to learn Arabic

  • the_other posted:

    on 25th June 2009, 18:08:26 - Reply

    they will say learn dutch but they wont and they will import more immigrants and in 20 years youll all have to learn Arabic

  • the_other posted:

    on 25th June 2009, 18:08:11 - Reply

    they will say learn dutch but they wont and they will import more immigrants and in 20 years youll all have to learn Arabic

  • the_other posted:

    on 25th June 2009, 18:08:07 - Reply

    they will say learn dutch but they wont and they will import more immigrants and in 20 years youll all have to learn Arabic

  • the_other posted:

    on 25th June 2009, 18:07:59 - Reply

    they will say learn dutch but they wont and they will import more immigrants and in 20 years youll all have to learn Arabic

  • Angelica posted:

    on 24th June 2009, 09:40:42 - Reply

    Dutch IS a difficult language. And it is not as easy to learn as it was with English. The problem with me is the topic of the sentence (how words must be arranged before making out a sentence), and when to use De and Het...and mostly grammar issues. And let's be serious, you can't quite communicate something properly (in a way you can get a job) if you don't master the basics in grammar.

    The Dutch are okay when it comes to speaking English, at least they aren't French. I mean, the French are really really nationalist(not that is a bad thing, but you hit a wall when you are on vacation, that's not nice).
    Since I've been here I started understanding here and there, but speaking, I'm lucky if I can use present tense and short sentences. I like the country and the people seem ok, but I have no idea how they ended up with speaking such a difficult language lol -_-
  • Sonja posted:

    on 15th June 2009, 19:49:44 - Reply

    I'm of german descent and live here since 2003, I speak Dutch with a german accent and my dutch accent when speaking german gets stronger by the day, I read dutch books and our main-language at home is Dutch - also with other german expats.
    I feel well integrated overall, but still, I meet those people who notice my german accent and start talking German to me - only a few, but it is soooo annoying when it happens - I LIVE here, I'm not a tourist (our area is frequented by many german tourists and most of them don't know Dutch, even if they come here every year). I could get away with German here without any problems, everybody here knows German - but I don't want it.
    My daughter (9y/o) knows Dutch better than German, she is fluent in German, but with dutch accent. She goes to school here and I want to be able to speak Dutch with her teachers and peers. Luckily, most people understand it, that I don't feel german anymore, I plan to live and to die here one day - they call me "vernederlandst".
    But it was easy for me to learn Dutch - I never had a problem with learning different languages, I'm fluent in Croatian aswell. It isn't that easy for everybody.
  • walawala posted:

    on 7th June 2009, 07:13:34 - Reply

    I am looking forward to move to Rotterdam soon...I am bad at language learning myself..tried German and Spanish but never could understand it well...but, I am going to sacrifice some time to learn Dutch language as I am going to stay there for long and it is useful for my career too!
  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 23rd May 2009, 14:23:57 - Reply

    jerry the troll is hungry do not feed it
  • Jerry posted:

    on 20th May 2009, 19:11:01 - Reply

    The dummies are short sighted. If all the immigrants learn the dutch language. Then they will only be sitting in their molens and looking after their cows.
  • M A Janssen posted:

    on 16th May 2009, 17:13:29 - Reply

    Come June next month, I will be celebrating my 8th year in the Netherlands. I came here in the pre-summer of 2001, just in time before 9/11 and just before immigration issues took a major turn for the worse. I attended the compulsory inburgeringcursus and made some good friends but it took me a very long time, almost 5 years before I felt comfortable enough to have a decent conversation exchange in Dutch. My problem wasn't the language but learning the language in a place where people don't speak it. Living in Limburg meant that people spoke the regular standard Dutch to me for 5 minutes and then rattle off in the infamous Germanic-sounding Limburgese dialect. For years after my completion of the course, I was convinced that my Dutch was lousy, primarily because I didn't have much chance to use it as everyone spoke Limburgese. It wasn't until my Dutch born husband accompanied me to the shops where I confronted by the same thing and I was finally told by him that they were all speaking Limburgese to me. All that time, I had thought that my Dutch was bad because I couldn't understand them and they never understood my responses but the truth of the matter was that I did try to speak Dutch to them but since I was a beginner, it wasn't very good and they couldn't understand me because they automatically assume that if you live in Limburg, you must understand the dialect.

    I grew up in a country with 4 major racial and religious groups and I went to school side-by-side with Chinese, Indian and Eurasian friends. We in Singapore have managed to do something probably nowhere else in the world has succeeded, which is we have co-existed peacefully together despite each racial group speaking different mother tongues and practicing different religions. Though there are several reasons, the major one is the implementation of English as the first and most important language of all so though most of us retained use of our mother tongue, we are all united in our efforts to better ourselves in English. Education and business are conducted in the language and though we have our own local lingo which is unique to Singaporeans only, on a whole, we have managed to figure out how to communicate with each other despite having totally different mother tongues. I myself grew up bilingual, with my father speaking English to me and my mother speaking Bahasa so I would have a balance of both worlds.

    Unfortunately, the demands of education and career have meant that my Bahasa has suffered. I am proud to say that I excel in all my linguistic achievements but the emphasis on English meant that my mother tongue has suffered. Whilst I am still able to speak it fairly well, I am not able to write it as well as before, especially after having moved to the Netherlands where Bahasa is almost obsolete (even a lot of Indonesians don't like speaking it). I keep it alive as much as I can, speaking to my mother regularly and watching movies from back home. I speak to my daughter in Bahasa when we’re alone together but when I’m outside, I have resorted to speaking English because I get dirty looks from the Dutch natives when they hear me speaking to her in Bahasa, a language they probably don’t hear too often.

    Unlike immigrants who don’t come from a background with more than one language, I understood the need to learn Dutch right from the very beginning. I even took classes in Singapore, even before my husband and I agreed on any marital plans, just so I could learn a bit more about his culture. Unfortunately, I was never warned about the intricacies of the dialect and its demands on us immigrants so I had a rude shock when I came here because I had expected to speak pure and standard Dutch. I tried to persevere and being around people with similar difficulties helped me to feel less humiliated and less alone but at the same time, I would be disheartened by other immigrant friends’ speedier progress. I would receive the odd compliment but then I would be confronted by a negative reaction and my already fragile confidence would be totally shattered. I went from trying to speak the language as much as I could to avoiding meetings so that I wouldn’t have to speak at all. My husband’s family were supportive but his friends weren’t and I once spent a whole summer’s day with them being totally ignored whilst they rattled off in Dutch and I sat in silence like a total idiot – that was when I was only into my 2nd month here and I only began my inburgeringscursus six months after I arrived. I couldn’t be expected to know so much in so little time and they never once gave me the benefit of the doubt. Needless to say, my husband saw them for their true colours and are no longer friends.

    The Dutch are not always positive when it comes to us learning their language and culture and that is a real turn off. If they want us to integrate into their culture, they have to at least give us the time and space to do so and bear in mind that not everyone does it in record speed time. We all lead our lives in our own pace and whilst others fully integrate in 3 months, others take longer. That being said, the stress upon having to learn the language and integrate is being done too late. There are immigrants here who have lived for decades without having to learn the language because they weren’t made to. Being given benefits meant they didn’t need to work and thus could then just hang out with their own kind. Because immigrants from the past have over welcomed their stay, the present immigrants like me are being punished because of the country’s past mistakes.

    Yes, not all Dutch are bad but as exampled by most people here, they are not all that warm and welcoming either. I have never felt comfortable in my 8 years here and it doesn’t get any easier just because I know how to speak the language well because it doesn’t really seem to make any difference to the Dutch, safe for my immediate neighbours.

    I get compliments all the time now but I don’t care anymore because it’s all too late. I could have used those compliments when I was just starting out so that I wouldn’t have felt so shitty all the time. Living in a foreign land with no family and friends is isolating and more so when you don’t know the native language. It is aggravated when you receive little support and positive reaction and you’re ready to blow your brains out coz the whole experience makes you feel like a complete idiot. And, after all this, I find out they want both Dutch and German speakers for the jobs I’m searching for. I just spent the last 8 years learning Dutch and now I have to start from square one all over again!?! I don’t even know where to start with that!
  • Nathan Wakelin posted:

    on 8th May 2009, 09:06:16 - Reply

    I have lived in the netherlands now for 3 years. I am educated to a high level and have a highly technical occupation. I still find the language a big challenge. I have a dutch wife and can get by in small conversations about specific things. I find there are 2 major barriers to my progression with the language.
    1/. my company is an international company that employs people from all over the world. Consequently english is the common language at work. In a way this makes me lazy. BUT even if i talk to a dutch person in dutch, they reply in english. Dutch people are really proud that tthey speak english and love to show off about it. Dutch people that struggle with english generally use a more dialectic form of dutch. I am currently living in a small town in Gelderland, the local dialect is difficult for me to follow even now.
    2/. The Dutch language is not easy to learn out of books. For every rule there are lots of exceptions. This would be fine if the Dutch people would help with the language and not automatically revert to English.

    Another annoying trait of a lot of dutch people is that if you do say things in Dutch they find it quite 'cute and funny' as one of my colleagues once said to me. This does nothing to remove my insecurity.

    If you want us 'buitenlanders' to talk your language you need to help us, and please excuse our rubbish pronunciation of 'g' 'sch' 'eu' and especially 'ui'.

  • WouWIE posted:

    on 8th May 2009, 00:42:22 - Reply

    (I have an account now, I am prepared to discuss any argument against my earlier post)
  • WouWIE posted:

    on 8th May 2009, 00:21:38 - Reply

    Reaction to Voodoo Doll

    I think your baby will grow up just fine. My Dutch parents moved to England for a few years for my fathers job. In that time I was born and I spent my first four years of my life living in England. Now, I am attending my final year of high school (in Holland) and whenever I tell my fellow students I was born in England, I only get positive reactions and they ask me more about my background because they are interested in people 'from abroad'. (although I don't categorize myself as someone from abroad, because I have Dutch parents). WHat I am trying to say is: a lot of people I know are interested in different cultures and I am shocked to read all the negative comments about the way Dutch people treat foreigners, because that's not the way I look at Dutch citizens. (Maybe it is beceauce I go to a Havo/VWO school(higher educated))

    And yes, I am sorry for my bad English. I am going to do an English study next year, so I hope that will help me.

    There was also someone who said,for example, Asian people who live in the Netherlands behave like Dutch people and don't stay put to their background. This because they might be ashamed off who they are or something. Whenever their is a crime in the Netherlands, everybody thinks that a Marrocan (or other not western-immegrants) is the cause. They have built that stereotype about themselves because they make the news too much and that is not for their outstanding performances. Offcourse not every Marrocan guy, woman or child is the same. But their are just too much who ruined how people think of them as foreigners. What I can imagine is that for example Asian people see how for example Africans are seen in the Netherlands and they don't want anything to do with it just because they are foreigners. Those people also understand just like anyone with proper sence, that being seen as a bad example, just because some people messed up, is not the way they want to be seen, so they 'act Dutch'.

    I also think these commercials are made for non-western immegrants who don't go outside of their home and socialize just because they can't speak the language. Western immegrants are included in the add so their wouldn't be any hard feelings, what many would find a bit racist.

    Dutch people are (were) known around the world to speak many foreign languages. Dutch people know that too. If someones talks to you in an english accent, this Dutch person talks in English to you because they feel they help you out by doing so. If you don't want him to talk English because you want to learn Dutch, just tell him/her. Its easy to talk negative about people not understanding that you want to learn the language afterwards, when you yourself didn't made it clear you wanted to be talked to in Dutch.

    We are used to the fact, that the DUtch language is just small and therefor we learn French, German and English in school. We are so used to the fact that we have to talk in German, french or English to foreigners, that it is for most of us weird that their are actually people who want us to speak Dutch to them and not the language off their mother tongue.

    Again, excuse my English. I also was a bit in a hurry when typing this, but I felt I just had to react. (so maybe, due the quickness a lot of things didn't made any sence :P)
  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 29th April 2009, 20:51:48 - Reply

    I am not bashing but I do not agree with prejudice and discrimination anywhere in any country.
  • tylenol is good posted:

    on 29th April 2009, 11:39:13 - Reply

    Let's not bash or whatever, I like the Netherlands because people can speak English. but let's all admit it, it is a hard language, I speak 5 other languages and rather well I still find Dutch a hard one
  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 29th April 2009, 10:40:33 - Reply

    I have to agree with you Eulalia. You describe the exact same experiences that I have had or been wittness to more often than not. Intergration is not possible. Even when you are born here, have Dutch fathter, mother you are not Dutch by Dutch mindset. If you are a different color besides White you are not Dutch. Despite the fact you are born here, fluently speak Dutch or only Dutch, never left the country if you do not look Dutch you are not Dutch.
    I have a Dutch family member who was adopted at a young age (2 years old) by a Dutch family. She has been raised here most of her life by her Dutch parents. Her heriatage is Indian. She is very dark skinned, dark haired, and dark eyed. So nope she is not Dutch white.
    After having a baby her Dutch parents in law wanted pictures of the baby. They hired a photographer and the photographer wanted to have a picture taken with the father and baby nude. The Mom was not comfortable with the nude part. So the in laws attributed it to her being adopted and Indian! I was lost for words. She had never been to India, spoke little english and was as Dutch as Dutch could be except the color of her skin... It never was a thought that she did not approve of it because she was not comfortable and this had nothing to do with her gene pool.
    A good majorit of the Dutch are in denial of what I see is blantantly clear prejudice.
    I worry about my little baby growing up here too how will she be treated and will she be held back due to her mother being non dutch?
  • Eulália posted:

    on 27th April 2009, 13:05:43 - Reply

    The Dutch have a reputation around the world of being very friendly and tolerante towards immigrants, but that IS NOT TRUE. The Dutch people that I see a little more frequently are family members of my husband, either than that, the only acquaintances that I've made here are foreigners. I also realize that none of my husband's family members (he has a huge family) have foreign friends or colleagues. Actually, no one in my street seems to have any type of relations with foreigners/immigrants. This is no sign of tolerance.
    I also notice that most people of Latin or Asian origin who were born in Holland, are also very arrogant and want nothing to do with immigrants. They feel embarassed of their roots.
    The Dutch have been traveling around the world for over 500 years. They love to discover other lands and many have migrated, but as I said before, they are not hospitable to immigrants living in their country.
    I've met quite a few Dutch immigrants in the U.S and in Brazil and they don't have a hard time finding work there or fitting in because they welcomed by Americans and Brazilians.
    Shame on those who discriminate immigrants who are trying to integrate and live an honest life. Shame on the government who doesn't promote integration without exposing immigrants as a plag.
  • Rachel Meredith posted:

    on 27th April 2009, 11:58:39 - Reply

    How dare the dutch goverment generalise about learning Dutch. I am dyslexic, work full time and travel 4 hours a dayfor my job. Dutch lessons are expensive and do not always fit in with the working day. I go after work until 21 and go on saturdays but due to my age 53, medical treatment of radiotherapy and dyslexia it is not made easy. There is no help what so ever from the goverment with regard to fees or speacialst teachers. We are not all lazy and most of us do want to learn the language to help intergrate. Perhaps if the Dutch were a bit more welcoming towards immigrates it would help. My only friends here are other immigrants!! Let the goverment think about that too.
  • Eulália posted:

    on 21st April 2009, 22:00:38 - Reply

    I've been in Holland since 2005 and since then I've attended 3 different courses of Dutch language. I've done all I could to become well integrated in Holland, but since I still have a heavy accent, I have a hard time finding work. I called the Human Resources department of NH Hotels, speaking Dutch, to ask if there were any job opportunities for receptionists and the woman who answered the phone said: "we don't have any oppenings at the moment and even if we did, we just employ people who can speak Dutch". So, I said also in Dutch: "so, according to you I don't speak Dutch and she said: "yes". If you don't speak fluent Dutch in Holland, you will have a real hard time finding work. This is not like in the U.S where if you prove that you can do the job, even with an accent, people will give a chance. The Dutch government has been talking about the importance of integration, but if you can't find work and you end up sitting at home, you won't have a chance to integrate. How else are you going to get in contact with the Dutch culture?
    I've also been to a job agency called Content, and the very young girl who was working there looked surprised to see me applying for a job there, because at this particular Content, they don't get a lot of foreigners applying for work. At one point i mentioned to her that I noticed, while looking for work, that it was difficult to find a job with an accent, I even said that I had an accent, but that I didn't think with an accent, that I was a good employee, fast learner, etc..., so the young woman replyed by saying that: "well, Dutch companies avoid hiring foreingers because they usually don't understand the Dutch sense of humor and therefore, hiring foreigners can create tension at the work place.
    Also at the swimming pool that i frequent with my family, I was told by one of the swimming instructors that it would be good for me to take swimming lessons with the other foreing women and then I asked her why with the foreigners (allochtone) and not with a mixed group? She didn't know what to say: 'well, huh...."
    Another experience that I had a week ago: I went with my husband to a Peuter school (creche/day care) to put the name of our child down on a wait list for next year and as soon as I introduced my self to the woman who came to help us she said: 'oh, I hear a foreigner (I have an accent when I speak Dutch), so I told her where I came from, and so on and she said that "there was a separate group for foreign children". My husband who is VERY Dutch was really surprised by her reaction and said: "my child is Dutch, she was born here, what do you mean?" Then I said to the woman that I would rather have my child in a mixed group and not in a group of only foreign childre. I said: "I don't want anything to do with this apartide, and this is no way to create integration, if I see that my kid will be brought up as a foreigner in her own country and separated from other children, I will go back to America, but here I won't stay. I already go through that everywhere I go, but I don't want this for my kid." So the woman appologised and said that we could choose between staying in the group with just foreing children or in the mixed group.
    These examples above are just a few of the absurdity that I go through in Holland.
    The Dutch government should create real integration amont foreigners and Dutch people. I also would like to remind the Dutch that there are TONS of Dutch people living abroad. There are communities of Dutch people in Brazil where they only speak Dutch, the same can be found in the U.S. There are TONS of Dutch people in South Africa, Australia, etc.... Knowing that, the Dutch should be a little more hospitable as well, besides, the foreigners who live and work here pay taxes, you know and that is good for a country with high number of retirees. I am here because my husband is Dutch and we have a lovely family. As I said before, I do all I can to become integrated, but it isn't easy.
  • swede posted:

    on 13th April 2009, 21:38:31 - Reply

    I personally don't think this TV ad is about language at all and I don't think that every time a Dutch person mutters that foreigners should learn Nederlands it's about learning the language. I think it's just an expression of the racism in this country. I think the Dutch hate buitenlanders and this is the only way for them to express that.
    Whereas it's not very pc to say that you hate foreigners it is very pc and now also officially endorsed and encouraged to say that foreigners should learn Dutch.
    If you think about it - what do the Dutch REALLY care if we all learn Dutch? How does it possibly make their lives better? What do they care if we order cheese in the cheese shop in a less than perfect way? We would be the ones with the problem and inconvenience so what do they care? SEriously, I don't care if my neighbours speak Spanish, French or Chinese all day long. Why would I? If we all come here and contribute positively, pay our taxes and don't bother anyone then why be forced to feel like a criminal for not putting mega efforts into learning Dutch?

    I speak reasonable Dutch and nobody ever responds to me in English, except when in Delft. I'm completely convinced that me improving my Dutch might make my life a tiny bit easier but I'm equally convinced it won't change anybody else's life - so why the outrage. It's just racism, the only way to express the fact that the Dutch hate anyone who isn't Dutch and who doesn't conform and therefore support their exact way of life, culture, normen en warden. I think that ad is plain disgusting.
  • Claudia posted:

    on 12th April 2009, 19:20:38 - Reply

    I was in France at the Champion checking out with my groceries 15 minutes before closing on a Sunday with a line up of about 20 people behind me. The cashier spoke to me in French and I didn't hear what was said. So I replied, "pardon?" Apparently my accent alerted him to the fact that I was English speaking and his answer was "Oh, what I said was...."and he repeated what he had said to me in English. The next time I was asked the same questions in French I understood. A month later I was at the Albert Heijn checking out my groceries in the afternoon when the boy behind the cash register asked me something in Dutch. Usually I understand but these words I didn't completely recognize. I replied to him in Dutch asking what he meant and apparently my accent was enough to alert him to the fact that I was English speaking. He answered me in English "Never mind, it is too much trouble." I will never know what he said.

  • onepiecemachine posted:

    on 7th April 2009, 17:28:58 - Reply

    This advert was not made with immigrants in mind at all. It was made for the minority of Dutch people who are xenophobic. The image of the blundering, stupid foreigner who makes no effort to learn the local language and inconveniences others will be lapped up by this minority. Wat een onzin!

    A far more helpful strategy would be to try and picture things from a migrant's point of view. Dutch is a difficult language and 99% of foreigners arrive in this country with ZERO exposure to it; contrast this with English, French, Spanish etc which are global languages meaning that many people have heard them, understand a smidgin etc. With Dutch everyone starts from zero so the learning process takes longer.

    Maybe the government could encourage native Dutch folk (who are - in my experience - extremely friendly, polite and accomodating on almost every issue) to attempt a *dialogue* with immigrants, where each learn how the other perceives them. Reinforcing these negative stereotypes will just lead to more xenophobia, more foreigners feeling alienated, thus more segregation, ad nauseum.

    Taal leren is belangrijk. Samenwerken is belangrijker.

    (Sorry if this is wrong... you see, I'm still learning)
  • EditorNL posted:

    on 7th April 2009, 15:55:48 - Reply



    As part of a new series Expatica is making, in collaboration with Expatnl.com, we are inviting any of the people involved in this debate to participate in a panel discussion on the subject of learning Dutch in the Netherlands (with some focus on the article which sparked off this lively debate). We welcome any Dutch participants to the panel, as well as 'foreigners'.

    If you are interested in taking part in the video, simply send an email to EditorNL@expatica.com with 'Expat Talking' in the subject line. Please give your name, nationality and user name (if different), so that we can recognise you as a participant in the above discussion.

    Should you like to be included, but haven't reacted to this article, then please do give your point of view before sending us an email.
  • J.Khan posted:

    on 6th April 2009, 11:16:15 - Reply

    There is always a difference in theory and practice. Due to the useless bureaucratic process, it took almost 9 years for me to take admission in dutch language. Secondly, teaching dutch become a business. Any rag tag, who can speak dutch, has took contract from the government and trying to make money. Some of the language schools in A'dam even do not have buildings or proper reading material.

    For the development of dutch language and culture, there is a need to open dutch language and culture center/schools under the supervision of Netherlands embassy in every country, in the same way as French are doing. So that they can properly guide and educate families entering Netherlands.

    Thirdly, there is a need for the dutch national to integrate with the foreigners. They should not be scared to talk to foreigners. The government should encourage their own citizen to integrate and help foreigners to learn their culture.

    The present campaign are shot in the wrong direction. The government is spending money without any result. They are pushing everybody to go to school. Majority of these students are attending because of dodging the CWI, DWI. In my school there are about 150 students. Maximum 50 will get the diploma and the rest will leave without any result sooner or later. The rest of 100 will cost government for nothing.
    Their is a need for a comprehensive strategy and action plan to develop, forward, and integrate dutch language and society. Otherwise this issue will die down after 5 years.
  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 5th April 2009, 08:42:12 - Reply

    Wow Mei talk about prejudice right in your face, that is horrible. The problem is a lot of people want to belive there is not any prejudice but there is. Look at the local television stations and news where are all the people of color, asians, indonesians etc they are all lilly white with the "Dutch Look" mostly, sure there is an occasional person who is not sporting the Dutch look however that is the point the norm is not very diverse.
    Why not admit we have problems and try to over come them. I would like to see a black female becme prime minister here. If most say there is no problem how can it change? I find the NL far from fee and open etc.
  • mei posted:

    on 4th April 2009, 20:23:06 - Reply

    I agree that learning Dutch will increase your quality of life in The Netherlands. However, in the end, it is YOUR choice to learn Dutch or not (after all, The Netherlands claims to be a first world country where freedom of speech and human rights are of primary importance,right?). It should NOT be forced.

    I went for the inburgeringscursis and was appalled with the quality. This course costs 4450 euro per person. I would love to learn proper Dutch (good enough to be taken seriously in a business environment) but learnt absolutely NOTHING in the inburgeringscursis.

    I teach English at 2 primary schools in the Gelderland region. I am often taunted with "ching chongs" by children (I am Asian). I was surprised because these are just kids so they must've learnt it from their parents! Racism is alive in The Netherlands ( I admit racism is everywhere but it's particularly iritating when a country claims to be first world, open, free etc. and you find out it's all rubbish).
  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 3rd April 2009, 14:30:34 - Reply

    "Im sorry but i cant agree with that statement at all. Very unfair on the Dutch. I dont recall seeing Morrocans or Turks being forced sit at the bank of the bus etc.."

    I respectfully disagree, I see a lot of prejudice here and they may not have to sit in the back of the bus but can you explain the Negro kisses? Or why if you are born and raised here, speak the language but do not have Dutch look or name then people say you are not Dutch?

    Oh you did not come off as arogant at all. I agree with a lot of what you stated so my bad if I came off as if I thought you were arrogant.
    But yeah I am one of those people and I have no problem admiting it. My Dutch is accented heavily and I cannot get rid of it. So as you say many Dutch do not accept this as speaking Dutch! Drives me a bit batty really and I don't get it. As you said in USA, Canada and other places people are happy to have you try! It is not speaking Dutch per se I have a problem with it is the fact I am expected to speak perfect Dutch like the Dutch! That is silly!
    I also feel there is some political agendas that are not so innocent as a matter of just speaking Duthc. Sorry but I feel it is a tool discrimminate. Misused is more like it.
  • EngelsDan posted:

    on 3rd April 2009, 14:08:12 - Reply

    I apoligise if i came across as arrogant. But i thought i was terrible at languages aswell, i was awful at French and German at school. But i put the effort in with Dutch and suprised myself. If you really are one of those people(i dont mean that as an insult!) who struggles with new languages then fair enough. As i said, i think theres only so much you can self teach anyway. But there are many,many buitenlanders in the Netherlands who simply do not try.

    I think British and Americans tend to be more lenient with foriegners trying to pronounce words. We give them the benefit of the doubt, something ive found quite rare in the Netherlands. Pronounce a word ever so slightly wrong here and they look at you as if you just threatened to kill them!

    -In fact how people refer to the Moroccans and Turkish people here in NL is how many Americans treated people of color in the USA.-

    Im sorry but i cant agree with that statement at all. Very unfair on the Dutch. I dont recall seeing Morrocans or Turks being forced sit at the bank of the bus etc..

  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 3rd April 2009, 09:48:40 - Reply

    You know not everyone is good at mastering a new language. If you can be reasonable or decent in 7 months that sounds great but some people are not good at languages. I am one of those people. I am great at math, science, reading among other things but I never was good at grammar, spelling, etc. I have a higher than average IQ, finished university with a dual major but I never ever liked or was good at the whole language thing. I think it should be a choice if you want to learn Dutch. Many people can get by with never using the language. Again, I feel it is a good idea to try to learn the language so you can communicate but that is it.
    I come from the “melting pot” the land of immigrants! There is not any law that forces people to speak English. In fact, we use Spanish as if it is our second language in many parts of our country. If you buy a toy, medicine go to the hospital instructions are available in many languages.
    We offer ESL courses free and the funny thing is many if not most go on to learn English. We do have a few folks who get pissed off when someone does not understand English etc but most consider these folks rude, ignorant and an exception.
    I always respected the people who came to the USA with nothing in pursuit of a better life. Many are educated but are doing a job at fast food joints etc. because the education they have does not transfer or they are learning English… The next thing I know they are owners of a McDonalds; there kids are going on to universities etc. This is what made the USA one of the most successful countries in the world.
    Back in the earlier days of USA we practiced segregation, treated people badly due to there nationality, color of their skin etc. In fact how people refer to the Moroccans and Turkish people here in NL is how many Americans treated people of color in the USA. This practice hurt Americans and the country. We realized after riots, poverty, deaths etc that we had to get along and discrimination was not going to solve the problems plaguing America. The USA is not perfect and there is still prejudice in the USA but we have laws and people who work to make it better the results are good.
    All you will get from prejudice is anger and hate…it can destroy a nation and its people.
  • EngelsDan posted:

    on 2nd April 2009, 15:41:59 - Reply

    Just like to add my views.

    Firstly ive been here(in the Netherlands) 7 months, i have been learning the language since the first day. Out of respect and an attempt to integrate better and also for more selfish reasons i.e better job prospects. I would consider my Dutch to be redelijk(reasonable) To get this far ive basically read childrens books, used free online grammar courses, watched tv etc. For those of you who have lived 1,2,3,4 years here and cant even string a Dutch sentence together, well im sorry but thats your own fault.

    With that said, its not easy. Ive found that theres only so much that i can learn from self-teaching. I need help. There is where the Dutch system comes into its own. You have a website for people that want to learn Dutch and its written entirely in complicated Dutch. I called the Gemeente for Den Haag to ask for help, i asked politely if they spoke English the person replied by saying "Lets just try Dutch first shall we" or words to that effect. Here i am asking about Dutch courses and the person was demanding that we do the conversation in Dutch. Outstanding. Perhaps if i could speak Dutch then i wouldnt need Dutch courses would i!?

    To Dion Den Haag, being taught a language and self teaching are absolutely not the same thing. I wasnt taught Dutch at school, there arent any Dutch language programmes on the television or Dutch films shown in Britain. Dutch people seem to have the mistaken impression that Dutch is a world language, its not. But again, this is the Netherlands and foriegners should learn Dutch.

    But how about a little help?
  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 1st April 2009, 09:48:40 - Reply

    ps I agree the reality tv sucks not to matter what country it comes from lol. I like house too.... :)
  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 1st April 2009, 09:46:43 - Reply

    Hey Dion_den haag
    I want to directly reply to some of your statements. I am very interested in what you have to say. I have respect for your feelings and get the feeling you care about this subject and a lot to say. I do not feel this forum is the right place to debate the subject in detail. I would like to invite you to click on my name, go to my profile and private message me. This way everyone gets a place to comment on the article and we can go into further details on immigration, assimilation etc. I hope to hear from you
  • Dion_den haag posted:

    on 31st March 2009, 18:34:51 - Reply

    Ok, so maybe some morrocan KIDS are born here in Holland and integrate well, because they go through our whole school system. But I wasnt just talking about the kids. We have whole new morrocan families coming over every year who just see the Dutch life as an escape. They have to go through the same efforts you do. I do know there is a lack of empathy between the dutch and the english sometimes and this advert might be just an advert, but I can see how it can offend some people who really try to integrate. You are not required to integrate, I just feel sad sometimes if I cant speak Dutch in my own country. Ive had it a couple of times now if I ask someone for the time in Dutch or any other thing, I stumble upon someone who doesnt know Dutch and basically just says err.. I dont know in their own language and then it gets all awkward. Personally, I dont think anyone should go that far to learn our entire language. But I mean. some little words and sentences like asking time and asking for help, sentences you can learn from your little dictionairies. I think thats important. Now some Dutch people can speak English, or little English, but there are a lot that just CANT.
    Also I do agree that some neighbourhoods dont have that neighbourly spirit. I grew up in a lovely neighbourhood as a child where everybody knew me and everyone says goodmorning to everybody, no matter what ethnicity. But the closer I get to the centrum, the less connected I feel with my neighbourhood. My bf lives in a multicultural neighbourhood (valkenboskwartier) and nobody talks to anyone on the streets there. People have become meaner to other Dutch people also, its not just because you are a foreigner. This winter was really cold and there was a lot of negativity going on in our neighbourhood for no plain reason. If you want to master the language I am very glad to help, but I think you all should just know the basics and that should be enough for anyone. That shows us already that you try.

    --The Dutch think they understand my culture because they watch Hollywood movies, listen to American music and MTV reality shows not realizing this is entertainment and due to the narrow mindedness, they think they know it all and have even insulted me.

    Uhm... what ? We dont try to understand your culture by watching those reality shows. in fact I dont watch american TV at all anymore, just Dr. House, because I love Dr. House. Those reality shows are just there and they are annoying as there are more and more every day. Some people really shouldnt have a reality show ! ugh. anyhow. We try to learn from you guys and from your culture by learning your history and reading books. I agree that Dutch people who watch those MTV shows and think they know it all are narrowminded. But there is basically nothing else ( Dutch ) on tv. except the Lama's. I love the Lama's.
  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 31st March 2009, 18:19:14 - Reply

    I work, pay too much tax, 50% and I am an American. I married a Dutchman so I am required to intergrate. They allow only expats with contracts to not intergrate because they know they will probably leave.
  • wondercat posted:

    on 31st March 2009, 18:01:03 - Reply

    Just to add I love this part from the website:

    Do you wish to find out whether you are required to integrate? If so, contact the municipality in which you live.

    It should say: Do you wish to find out if you are eligible for free Dutch language and integration courses.

    Required to integrate??? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Some people are not required to integrate? Like me probably (and a lot of others on here) if you speak English. They don't want the tax payers to speak Dutch or integrate as then we will be able to fight them equally when it comes to tax issues etc
  • wondercat posted:

    on 31st March 2009, 17:14:00 - Reply

    I as a foreigner am insulted and offended by such an advert on Dutch TV in the Dutch language exploiting the difficulties people have communicating with Dutch people. It is just yet another dig at us, great!

    The part where the Dutch woman tuns her back on the woman trying to communicate and basically giving the off the body language that the person is annoying and a waste of time is absolutely unbelievable. This doesn't instil anyone with positive feelings towards learning the Dutch language. The advert psychologically has the opposite effect, whoever it was that thought up this advertising campaign is an idiot.

    I am from the UK and have been here for 10 yrs nearly, I can communicate in Dutch but not 100% still. Never once have I had any help from the Dutch government all courses I have taken I have had to save hard for. I have worked and paid tax all the time I have been here, so.. Dutch government offer me free courses! (or contribute) and I will take you up on the offer! This would be a better idea than wasting your money feeding the Dutch population with negative images of foreigners trying to communicate with ignorant people who seemingly don't want the hassle of helping someone learn.

    Which brings me on to integration...speaking the language might make it easier to TRY (all effort will be from your side, in my experience anyway) to integrate but at the end of the day if they don't want to accept you they won't. My Dutch bf himself even says there is no neighbourly spirit here where we live, most of them will not even greet you with good morning. I have said on numerous occasions good morning to one of my neighbours who always stares back blankly at me without even forcing a smile.

    Perhaps we should all make an advert for the Dutch people showing them how nice it would be to be able to get positive interactions with them?

    Also I would just like to say I am sure the whole of Holland doesn't have this same attitude I live in the Hague region and I am sure the general population here are very different to other parts of Holland. I am just talking from my personal experiences.
  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 30th March 2009, 19:59:30 - Reply

    I did say some Dutch people not all... In General and you are generalizing also. For one all those kids in American/British school may only be here for a short time and going through a different education system may not be beneficial. Morroccan kids are living her from birth and most are DUTCH nationals not the same... you are comparing apples to oranges.
    On your take on learning a language for holiday... that is a lot different from forcing people by law to learn/master a language as they do here in NL. You must pass a test that they recently made more difficult, and you must pay for the entire thing or get fined or possibly denied a resident permit. I wonder if you could do the same in another language that you never heard, spoke or wrote. How would you feel really? Step into my shoes do not be so closed and have a little empathy. Empathy by the way is sorely lacking on this subject.
    I do agree that one should try to learn the language here; I also feel it is fun and the best way to know a culture and yep I carry a dictionary around all the time but that does not mean people will understand me or even try at times. I have traveled a lot and I always try to learn a little of the language before I go. You should not assume I do not study or want to learn it. In fact I know many who are like me and just have a heavy accent and a busy life and cannot become fluent in a couple years. Should we just ship them all off??? If you do that your little country will go broke. We need immigrants in NL.
    Unfortunately the Dutch have taken all the fun out of learning Dutch and made it a tool for discrimination and to make themselves feel better. It is very narrow minded to think one will be fluent however and that is what has been expected by me. I was only here 6 months I could order my food, make an appointment etc., however I was not able to do the whole medical terminology thing that would be very high level Dutch. They hypocrisy is the Dutch doctor’s cannot speak very good English despite their exposure to the language and having to take English courses. I never once thought of wagging my finger at them for it.
    The Dutch do not speak good English all the time. They think just because they speak English that I will understand them, guess what I do not. However, I try very hard, asking, and working to communicate until I can understand. The Dutch rarely do this for me. (Narrow)
    Your country is small and that does not matter to me. It is the fact that your language is obscure to most and therefore very difficult to master. The Dutch as with many European countries have a big advantage when it comes to English, they hear it on tv from infancy, movies, music and many are taught it in schools.
    English speakers and especially Aussies, Canadians and Americans are not exposed to a second language every day like the Dutch are. Learning a language in school and never using it is not the same either. I passed several years of Spanish and Latin. I would never call myself fluent due to the fact I rarely used it on a daily basis. Again, the Dutch use English daily even if it is Dunglish most the time.
    The Dutch think they understand my culture because they watch Hollywood movies, listen to American music and MTV reality shows not realizing this is entertainment and due to the narrow mindedness, they think they know it all and have even insulted me. Just as they seem to think going on holiday and speaking the language while they order food or say thank you is mastering the language.
  • Dion_den haag posted:

    on 30th March 2009, 18:33:14 - Reply

    Hi Voodoo Doll. People who come here, have their own reasons. But if they come here, I think they should care enough to teach themselves the language. I never got the opportunity in my highschool to learn Spanish and Ive only been to Spain once in my life. Still I think its a language I want to learn by visiting Spain for a longer amount of time and I have a Spanish friend here in Holland who is learning Dutch and she's getting very good at it. Almost better then some highschool Dutch kids who think they are quite a lot. I dont want to compare, because we don't have a narrow view of the world. We are a tiny country but some of us have a huge knowledge of other countries and cultures, just because we are a tiny little country and we want to look outside of our own boundaries. Personally, I dont have a closed mindset. Commercials are there to annoy everyone anywhere in the world, so there is no need to take these Dutch commercials more seriously. I was never required to learn Japanese, but because of my interest in the culture and the people and some of my friends I have pushed myself to learn some good proper Japanese sentences. I dont need Japanese people to speak Japanese to me to teach myself the pure basics. I know Dutch people are pushy about getting you to learn their language. But you are here now. I would go through the same thing if I were to live in a different country like Japan. You cant generalize us, just because you have met soooo many Dutch people. Thats just racist. Morroccan kids work really hard to learn our language and they even go to Dutch public schools, whereas English people need Dutch English highschools like ASH and ISH with their own little familiar system. We do our best to welcome all our foreigners. But you just gotta practice and stop being defensive and falling back to English. I learnt French in school, because I was doing my best for it. not because teachers taught me, but because I read books. French books. And just as there are French and German books there are Dutch books and Dutch learning institutions. Its like going back to school, but I guess thats necessary to learn a new language. you have to STUDY. if you dont care enough, then you might as well go back where you came from. Most of my friends are American, NOT Dutch, but still I speak Dutch most of the time to help out my friends. And because I teach them the stuff that you dont find in grammar books, because you learn that stuff as a Dutch kid, I simply treat them as if they were little Dutch kids to show them the stuff that is obvious for us Dutch people. We're not narrow, because most of our population isnt Dutch but foreign. All the Dutch people who wanted to see more of the world are already out there exploring their favorite country.

    We dont mind speaking English in our own country. but yeah, lots of foreigners do succeed and I think it would be good for you to carry around a little dictionary like in the old days, because it might be important to know your own medical terms and how to ask for specific help sometimes. If you have a peanut allergy and couldnt tell a Dutch kid, because of lack of communication and he or she gave you a pecan pie for your birthday but said it was an apple pie, because he couldnt find the right english word. You'd be annoyed. You're not learning Dutch for us, but for yourself.
  • Voodoo Doll posted:

    on 30th March 2009, 09:24:33 - Reply

    Comment on Dion's Comment: You did not learn English from websites but in school where it is a normal part of your required education. You then got a better understanding of English because you hear English on you televisons, movies, music and yes websites.
    I was never required to learn Dutch, it was never offered in fact. German, French, Spanish,Latin, Italian, Chinese, Japanese were offered but not DUTCH. I never heard Dutch spoken, saw it written in my entire life until I came to NL.
    My point there is a BIG learning curve when it comes to the Dutch learning English and everyone else learning Dutch. You simply can't compare.
    I once had a doctor tell me I should be ashamed of my lack of Dutch skills when I had only been here 6 months and could not expalin detailed medical info in Dutch. He went on to say while on holiday in Spain he learned some Spainsh... I said yeah but you can't even speak all the medical terms in English can you do medical terms in Spainish?
    Many Dutch just don't get it, there little narrow view of the world is silly. The fact is Dutch is just not that important to the rest of the world and therefore nobody cares about it except the Dutch. Unlike English.
    The commercial is just a way to wag a finger and make people like you feel smug. It does not benefit anyone but the dutch closed mindset.
  • Dion_den haag posted:

    on 26th March 2009, 20:40:10 - Reply

    P.S : This is a reply to Yaron.

    If you want to learn dutch you have to get used to websites IN Dutch. You guys have English websites don't you ? We have to read all of those as well. How did you think we taught ourselves to speak English ? By not reading in English and looking up words ? I do agree, if there is an English section that they should actually make it an English section.

    But one time you people are complaining about understanding Dutch, but Dutch people are speaking back to you in English. And then another time you complain about websites being in Dutch and there isnt any English section.

    how can we not miss the point ?
  • Dion_den haag posted:

    on 26th March 2009, 20:33:59 - Reply

    Ik ben een Nederlands meisje en heb het meerendeel van deze reacties gelezen. Ik heb zelf ook een Amerikaanse vriend die hier al lang woont en ik probeer hem elke dag iets nieuws te leren in het Nederlands. Ik merk wel dat sommige buitenlanders het lastig vinden om de taal vloeiend te leren spreken, omdat ik ook zie dat ik vanzelf in het Engels terugpraat als mijn vriend een verhaal vertelt in het Engels. Maar dat is meestal omdat ik mijn eigen Engels ook wil verbeteren voor mezelf. Ik wil niet alleen Nederlands als mijn enige mother tongue kennen en spreek daarom ook zoveel mogelijk Engels.

    What im trying to say is that Dutch people try to keep up with the media and even here in Holland there are some news programs like CNN that only appear in English without voiceovers or subtitles. All we try to do is be communicative in English as well, so that we dont just get stuck when people try to ask things about the Dutch language in English or what they dont understand yet. I know its annoying when people flip over to English automatically just like I did here. But we are not here to be ignorant or to laugh at your accent. We are here to learn from you guys as well, so that we also have a chance to develop our language skills. Anyhow, I learnt that it is majorly annoying to foreigners if you dont answer them in Dutch. En als er iets is wat je graag wil weten qua grammatica of Nederlandse woorden, je kunt het altijd vragen. But do understand, we accept a lot of foreigners into our country and it is hard for us to keep our own genuine culture. Because we are forced to become bilangual more and more every day. Honestly, I have a fascination for the English and American culture and language and im just trying to learn from the people who come here. It is your own duty to get used to the dutch language, we have the right to speak in the language that culturally binds us as posted above by EditorNL. Integrating is never easy. so if it bothers you so much that Dutch people speak English back to you, say it. But it took me years to figure out how the American government worked and Im still usually not grammatically correct. I am not ashamed for it though, because I like speaking English just for the sake of speaking English. Its the common language and its comforting to adapt to the language that the greater part of the world speaks.

    Alles wat je hoeft te doen, is gewoon oefenen en vragen. Het is je eigen verantwoordelijkheid om Nederlands te spreken en je moet het niet op Nederlanders afschuiven. We zijn tenslotte ook niet aan het zeuren als we in het Engels moeten communiceren en als Amerikanen lachen om ons accent. Meestal kan je het horen als een Nederlander probeert te integreren in het Engels.

    Ik corrigeer elke buitenlander die de grammatica niet helemaal goed in een zin kan gebruiken, maar soms moeten Nederlanders zelfs andere Nederlanders corrigeren, omdat zelfs zij nog fouten maken in de makkelijkste zinnen.

    Dont be hard on us because we try to speak English back to you. Because I also think this kind of campaign is alienating, thats why we're ignoring it and speaking English duh. If you want someone to speak Dutch, just express yourself and they'll turn around. Sometimes Dutch people even feel ashamed to speak Dutch. I know I do sometimes, because its not the pretties language. All you have to do is push yourself to keep speaking dutch when they try to speak english to you.

    problemo solved.
  • Yaron posted:

    on 26th March 2009, 20:30:33 - Reply

    Completly missing the point!!

    You want forgieners to study Dutch?
    Then why is the commercial in Dutch? Why is the address of the website in Dutch? and who the hell decided to make the website in Dutch?

    The Dutch service at it's best.

    Ah and I like how they write on the website in the "English" section. "Please ask someone Dutch to translate the website for you".
    Great "English Section".
  • ams_dude posted:

    on 24th March 2009, 01:30:37 - Reply

    I speak and write nearly fluent Dutch, to the point of holding hour long business meetings while flipping over into two other languages and back when necessary. And I'm American. Seems to me to be people trying to justify getting government money for something... and this kind of campaign is just alienating. (Gosh, how could I have ever figured out Albert Heijn on my own... or even the bancomat!)
  • Wolfhoundcop posted:

    on 17th March 2009, 21:46:22 - Reply

    It's all about money. That's fine, but they should spend it on free courses to learn Dutch. I'll be the first in line :o)) All that you can get in Holland is the beginner course. But not if you are a foreigner student here, they'll pay for you to learn Dutch.
    Again, they need to focus on the real problem and stop wasting money on folks that are living, working and PAYING TAXES in Holland. I don't see them refusing my tax money! Now that's a novel idea! lol

  • EditorNL posted:

    on 17th March 2009, 17:10:25 - Reply

    Posted by the editor on behalf of Elaine Campbell:

    DUTCH- Compulsory?

    Whilst it is good to communicate in the Dutch Language, if is often the case that the Dutch people respond, in English, to non-Dutch speakers. Thus a call to integrate into Dutch society is a fallacy.

    Non-Dutch speakers living here, live their lives beyond buying bread, attending the doctors and no parents need to speak Dutch in order to raise their children. Also, the Dutch Government cannot force other EU Citizens into speaking the Language neither can it intervene with their Freedoms, such a Freedom of Speech and Thoughts.

    Freedom of Speech is often associated with the Press and Media. However, one speaks in the language which culturally binds them. There is no genuine effort being made by the Dutch themselves to accept the cultural otherness.

    How many Dutch citizens are willing to befriend another non-white and non Dutch person? Invite them as equals in their homes? The state of affairs is one in which Dutch people play the savior and the 'poor people' from the far corners of the globe ought to be thankful.

    The great relief is, it is perfectly possible to live physically in one place but live one’s life outside of the rigid boundaries which denote a country. Therefore no need to interact with your next door neighbors. Of course there are always exceptions to the rules.

    Most Dutch people do speak English. Under EU legislations and the even in the Dutch immigration policy, university students and professors, business investors, wealthy non-Dutch, Diplomats and EU citizens are exempt from what most would perceive to be compulsory integration.

    In matters of the heart, such a speaking a language, government should let personal responsibility be the order of the day. And be consequential in applying the rules of exemptions to all.
  • Wolfhoundcop posted:

    on 13th March 2009, 17:33:18 - Reply

    lol, not many Dutch know Turkish or Afrikaans. And I hate to clue you in but in my job as a courier, most Turks or Africans, prefer me to speak English to them. I prefer to speak Dutch to my clients, which they like and I always receive an answer in English. I find this play. great for me and my Dutch and for the Dutch with their English. I have no problems with the "common" Dutch folks, just their elected officials. Can I say that, absolutely, as the Dutch were very outspoken about President Bush. But importantly I "listened" to what they had to say. Mostly I agreed, but there were a few instances where folks were misinformed.
    I find mostly the Dutch are behind President Obama. Everyone needs a chance...
    But the statement "solely for our entertainment" is a bit over the top. People believe what the "government" tells them (or at least some folks). This is a dangerous game.
    I noticed you didn't dare comment on my posts...lol Afraid of the real truth from someone that has worked in Holland with the people for 14 years. And has lived in Holland off and on for a total of almost 20 years.
    I love Holland, don't get me wrong, you just have to vote out the "Dutch Bushes"....simple....
  • Cloggie posted:

    on 13th March 2009, 14:16:46 - Reply

    When would you people finally understand that we have a secret law in this country. It is forbidden to address any foreigner of western origin in our native language. Have you ever heard us speaking english to a person who appears to be from North Africa or Turkey??
    This publicity campaign is solely for our own entertainment.
  • Ana Gloria posted:

    on 13th March 2009, 12:30:41 - Reply

    I fully support Sarah. There is no way that Dutch people speak Dutch to you when they hear you have a different accent. I forced my partner to speak his own language to me at home, but he still respond to me in English from time to time.
    I have taken a Dutch course, I try to read the newspaper, I try to integrate but it is not easy.
  • wolfhoundcop posted:

    on 12th March 2009, 22:58:17 - Reply

    I am not from the EU, but from the US. They are making this problem bigger than it really is and spending the poor Dutch taxpayers money implementing all this "eyewash". The problem is with specific and unique groups and they know it. But in place of targeting these folks and helping them intergrate into Dutch society, they choose to harass the rest of the foreigners that have NOT been a problem. Also the Dutch could also "grandfather" those that have been in country for 10 years or more and do not have any record of problems. This is a simple police check. This way the proper resources are directed where needed and waste eliminated. But the real route of the problem is that the Dutch invited these "groups" of folks to perform menial jobs in Holland that a Dutch person would not do. Now they are going after them...lol
    So Dutch folks, tell those ministers to stop wasting their money on folks they don't need to control and target the folks they already know that are a problem....
  • Marc Banks posted:

    on 12th March 2009, 01:17:58 - Reply

    This is a con. What they mean is "foreigners", which translates as people not from the EU. I am from the EU (England) and over my eight years here I have met literally hundreds of EU members (French, Finnish, Swedish etc) living here who can't speak Dutch.

    Another problem is that Dutch people think it's clever to speak in bad English all the time, and even when you attain a good standard in spoken Dutch, people are so accustomed to a particular way of Dutch being spoken that they can't understand you (or pretend not to). This is due to miniscule status of Dutch. In England people leave a broad window open for foreign pronunciations of English and we get used to it.

    On the whole, the Dutch don't even respect their own language themselves (witness the ridiculous misuses of English peppering the language) and don't demand it, unless they want to bully you in an administrative capacity.
  • K. Burns posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 20:07:41 - Reply

    I use Dutch daily at my work. Although I took courses at James Boswell University and paid for them myself (1,000 guilders per six weeks) I found the classes very disrupted by "students" sponsored by Dutch grants. These were just foreign students attending Dutch Universities. As much as I complained to teachers, nothing changed, so I finally was fed up, spending good money for nothing. I then tried attending Volks Universities, but all they have is beginners Dutch. So my challenge to the Dutch is, provide the venue to learn, or shut up. So far, I've seen nothing but big talk. The Dutch need to look at what is being provided for us to learn, before opening their mouth. Sounds like lip service and they are just trying to appease the Dutch population. BTW, my Dutch is fairly good, but no thanks to the learning facilities in Holland. Okay Mr. Minister, what do you say about that?
  • Luis posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 20:05:02 - Reply

    In my perspective this debate mixes two very different concepts: integration and language.

    I've been living in Amsterdam for almost 6 years and my Dutch nephew of 3 years old is able to express himself better in Dutch than I will ever be. I was lucky enough to be received and integrated in a lovely Dutch family that taught me everything that I know about the Netherlands. And believe me, it's a lot.

    Since I moved here, I developed a great interest for local architecture, in special, for amsterdamse school.
    Obviously, I had to make some efforts to learn some Dutch in order to keep up with this interest.
    Often are the situations, for example, at work that I'm the one explaining to my Dutch colleagues things about their own country, about their own legislation, about their own architecture, about their own writers, about their own cities, etc, etc, etc.

    All this always makes me wonder who actually needs an integration course.

    The little I know of Dutch language was self-taught and allows me to read, for example, any newspaper or even simple books. Allows me as well to watch TV, a theatre play or go to the cinema.

    But the best bit is that it allows me to keep very interesting conversations - in all kind of situations - where I speak English and get replies in Dutch.
    No one complains and everyone leaves happy!

    Like many here, I was often told by my employer that Dutch was not a requisite for the position since the company has an international atmosphere. More even, my official request for a sponsored or co-sponsored Dutch language course was refused. For the reasons mentioned above.

    Having said all this I don't think Integration and Language walk, necessarily, hand in hand and such campaigns don't really have me as a target. Or at least, they fail to do so.

    The result tends to be perceived more as a patronising glare over the 'allochtone' layer of the Dutch society when it's exactly this layer together with the local layer that make cities like Amsterdam what they indeed are.

    The real reason for my laziness in learning the language has to do with the fact that - and by all means, I don't want to sound rude - it's not exactly a strong 'currency' internationally. My work survives out of international environments where it's important to have a common language or a few languages.

    Mensen, it's really nothing personal and no one is really trying to destroy your identity. I can truly appreciate a Dutch nature or I wouldn't me married to one but realistically there are bigger and more complicated issues to solve and to invest money in. Money, by the way, that I also pay.
    And still, I don't feel like these campaigns are for me.
  • Bill Stevenson posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 18:10:39 - Reply

    I don't mind using Dutch. If a Dutch person answers back in English, I continue speaking in Dutch and they get the idea.

    Quite simply, the Dutch aren't used to people trying to speak Dutch. They are especially weak at correcting someone's Dutch or helping them to learn the language.

    In contrast, English speakers are quite used to it and I feel it's much easier to learn English in an English-speaking country than it is to learn (better) Dutch here.
  • j.david atkins posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 16:45:46 - Reply

    An interesting debate except for one or two unhelpful comments from, for example Terry. (In England, if a foreigner is not understood then the majority of us tend to raise our voices under the impression that the person will understand what we are saying by shouting at him !!).

    I've lived here many years but still have a problem with the language. Perhaps my Dutch would have been better if a)I hadn't lived in Amsterdam for the first year where, what ever you try to say in Dutch you will always be answered in English. (Solution - no foreigners allowed to visit Amsterdam?) and b)work for a Dutch International company where my Duch boss actually told me that I didn't need to speak Dutch since everything was done in English !! He was correct too.
    Another thing that always amazes me about the Netherlands is how often you are sat in a cafe or similar and the couple next to you are having a conversation. One is speaking English and the other is speaking Dutch!! It only happens here.

    To conclude - in typical Dutch style - this won't happen for a long time. The Dutch, in their usual way, will talk about it, discuss it, talk about it again and then perhaps talk about it for a bit longer.
  • koetjeboe posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 15:56:14 - Reply

    To those of you who were constantly responded to in English, did you ever ask the person to respond to you in Dutch because you wanted to learn to use the language? If you did, and they continued to answer you in English, perhaps you should have been as insistent as they by demanding that they respond in Dutch.

    As an immigrant to the United States at the age of 13, my teacher asked me my name. I spelled it using the Dutch pronunciation of the alphabet. When he wrote down the letter 'A' instead of "E," I took the pen from his hand and wrote down my name. His response was, "At least she can write." I responded by saying, "You speak English, no?" He said, "Yes." I replied, "I speak Dutch very well. Now we speak in Dutch." I spoke to him in my native language. His face stared at me blankly. I, then, said to him, "I speak Dutch and a little English. You speak no Dutch." He got the message.

    My point? Ignorance can be found all over the world and in any language or culture. Perhaps, instead of getting ticked off, find a way to get the point across. Surely, if I could do it at age 13, adults should be able to do it also--if the will is there.
  • Fauz posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 15:55:12 - Reply

    Such campaign is what I have been looking for since being here in 2006. I find the foreigners who don't speak the language of the country totally ignorant. If one knows that he/she has language incapability, then why migrate to a land where the local language is mostly used. Due to the stigma oif the right-winged Rita Verdonk, many foreigners simply refused to learn Dutch, which is wrong. I went through the strict regulations and was not happy about it. But that does not stop me to learn Dutch, communicate with the locals in their own language and in their own country. I would expect that too for foreigners who come over to my own country, to learn the local language.
  • Enzo posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 14:57:20 - Reply

    What are you talking about? In the video they speak many languages. The target are the immigrants (doesn't exist only the English immigrant). The message is clear and simple: if you want easier life in Holland, learn the language. You don't really need to understand Dutch to get it. I know many immigrants (not only Germans) that can speak dutch very well, and Dutch people say that as well. When I ask in Dutch in a shop they almost always reply in Dutch (I live in The Hague), and sometimes I ask them to please switch to English because my Dutch is not good enough. They are very kind, usually. Every day I learn some Dutch, thanks to Dutch people.
  • Dennis posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 14:43:29 - Reply

    I am delighted to see the campaign, I think that in spite of the issues in trying to speak imperfect Dutch to a Dutchman, it is most definitely worth doing and the government is to be applauded for taking this initiative. I also agree that, since English is becoming the de facto international language, Dutch kids should be learning English, which will of course complicate the world somewhat.

    As a dual nationality person (Dutch/Canadian), I see in Canada the pain and disconnect from the greater society if you cannot speak the native language. There are most definitely ghetto's, if not physically then culturally, that form and it is only to the detriment of all that this happens. The newcomer does not learn and be able to appreciate what is good in their new country and the recieving country does not get full value and participation from the immigrant.

    Personally, I have been in two companies in Canada where messages had to go out stating that the working language of this corporation is English....as cliques were forming that worked in their native language and could not communicate well to their peers as they did not get any practice.

    Now if only we could sell Quebec to any taker, we'd really clear up the language issue!

  • Emmitt Mak posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 14:39:21 - Reply

    I have stayed long stays in many places, on three different continents, using six different languages. Of all the places that I have stayed, the only two places that I have found where people were difficult and prickish and guarded and cantankerous about their language was in The South of France, and in the Netherlands.
    One of the great joys of visiting MOST places in the world is the challenge of sharing thoughts and needs using a new and different set of words. Not so much in the Netherlands. While living there I was pretty much discouraged from learning Dutch by everyone except the government, and my crazy neighbor. (He was convinced that if he used his Dutch slower, and especially at a higher volume, with more emphasis on important words, then I would get it. He really wanted me to learn. He had this shining pride in his native toungue. Bless his 90 year old heart, he tried. But he was almost deaf, so he had no idea just how I was struggling to reply in Dutch). Few others in the Netherlands seemed to want to SHARE their language. It seemed to me that the Dutch are more apt to use their language as a fence to keep people out, rather than as a gate through which to let them in.
    I can order lunch, tell a girl that she is pretty, ask a child if he needs help, or report a crime or ask for help in every language of each country that I have stayed in. Except the Nederlands. Tough languages, like Mandarin, Japenese, Urdu, and easier Fench, and Portuguese. Every language except Dutch. I stayed the longest in the Netherlands of any assignment, and loved it there the most! But the language barrier never came down.
    Tip of my cap to the genius that decide that the best way to communicate with non-Dutch speakers was by using the Dutch language. Brilliant
  • Terrence posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 14:27:35 - Reply

    I understand the recent 5 year campaiign to push for mandatory nederlandse to outsiders and feel it's valid to some measure; equally, Nederlanders should utilize English at the least for the younger generation. It is a requirement for all dutch citizens in school, however; I also experienced that many older Nederlanders have not learned English since it wasn't required years back and I found a correlation when making shop purchases in many instances inland. There does need to be a balance between outsiders and the Dutch on compromise.

    As for the commercial, yeah...it's no doubt a goverment influenced propaganda piece. To me as an outsider, I look at it not as an instrument of communicating to us our need to improve our dutch linguistics, but more so a call to the dutch citizens stating that we are not so bright since it's spoken in dutch and the captions are in dutch as well...lol. Almost funny actually if it was meant for outsiders cause if this is the case...the producer completely missed the target unless the goal was to piss off outsiders, in such a case...touche'.
  • eamon posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 14:22:50 - Reply

    it's true what is said about the dutch regarding learning a completely useless language: they will not stop trying to show you that they can speak english, usually to an OK standard, but NEVER properly...the best solution i have found when they respond in english (when you speak dutch) is to say (in english) "please say it in dutch as your english is confusing me"...
    personally, i learned dutch but i speak it as little as possible now as a reaction to the last few years of government ratcheting up the national identity crap...still handy to know, if you know what i mean!
  • ray posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 14:07:45 - Reply

    I agree that people who live here should learn to speak the lingo it helps a little, but the dutch people should learn other peoples cultures to.ie manners,service they all seem to walk around with a huge chip on there shoulders..............
  • Maria posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 13:57:43 - Reply

    This ad is clearly not aimed at expats, so get over yourselves, please! How many people in that ad speak English? (just one small phrase from the caucasian lady who said, "In a bar.") And if we had to tell a doctor that we had trouble breathing, I think that a lot of us can say this in English, and the Dutch doctor who can also speak English will understand. So no... this advertisement is not aimed at expats.

    In any case, how about a bit of gratefulness? We live in *their* country. We are visitors. The least we can do is learn their language and respect their customs. It's not our right to dilute their culture in their own land.

    And I sincerely hope that the taxi drivers who cannot speak either Dutch or English will learn one of these languages and stop getting lost. At the very least, they should learn the words "links" (left) and "rechts" (right).
  • Jill posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 13:38:44 - Reply

    I had the exact same experience as Sarah Aarsen while I was living in the Netherlands. I would never let up speaking dutch to shopkeepers and they would never let up speaking English to me. Granted I was in a very international city-The Hague, and not in the countryside. However, I was trying. I think everyone thought it was so much more efficient to speak English to me. I left with Broken Dutch after nine years.
  • Casper posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 12:55:41 - Reply

    I've been here for some years, and my Dutch stinks, I understand it, and read it but the verbal part is lacking behind, and it will never get any better.

    When I got here I tried to learn Dutch, but as other people have pointed out the interest from the Dutch is not really there - they will either answer back in English, or just ignore what you're trying to say if some words are pronounced wrongly.

    The country cannot exist without expats, and at the same time many people are phobic towards expats, which leads to things like this video, it's is two way road they have to help, and we have to try. But if they do not help then most people give up.

    I think the best example of how the Dutch see foreigners is to look at what they fill their car up with when they go on vacation - local food as the food in other countries is not something they would like to try. They have the same feeling towards expats, nice to have them around, but it's best to ignore them, and at the same time they complain about them.

    I would say that this problem is mostly seen in the Randstad, outside (in the real country) people actually try to make you feel welcome, and they do try to help you learning Dutch....

  • Iftikhar posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 12:25:34 - Reply


    Migrants must learn the language of the host country to communicate with the natives. At the same time they must demand that their children must learn and maintain their own mother tongues. For this purpose, every school must have bilingual teachers who are well versed in the native language and mother tongue of the child.
  • Ade posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 12:14:25 - Reply

    Sorry but I speak Dutch fluently, even with a slight Amsterdam accent, but native people can still tell I am form the UK and automaticaly talk to me in English. I suggest that the Dutch try and realsie that if they want ons to learn the Taal, then they should also reply to us who try in Dutch and not in English!!!!!!!
    As for learning Dutch in a college, OK, but most of the "other immigrants" and we all know who I mean, can't speak Dutch at all, I was so frustrated, I paid for my own private lesson as the rate I was learing Dutch was almost regressive!
  • steve posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 11:24:21 - Reply

    In my view the Ducth language is being threatened by its superior Western languages better spoken and written by immigrants living in the Netherlands. And with the influx of new-commers, especially from new EU countries, finding Dutch next to Cantones, they preffer, English, Germany and French yet they form a big work force here. The fear of Dutch persons charged with keeping Dutch culture is as such clear - Ducth is becoming a second language in work places. But the answer to sustain the Dutch language should be social rather than political.
  • Enzo posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 11:12:08 - Reply

    @ Terry:
    >as in uk we are not like that at all and bend over backwards to help all, by providing info in a number of languages

    In England often there are people that don't want to understand foreigners, simply because the pronunciation of words is not good enough. Everywhere there are good people and bad people. Learning Dutch is difficult but it should be considered an high priority issue.
  • deepa posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 11:05:40 - Reply

    The focus must be on harmonious integration. From experience, I know I can learn any new language provided me and my language is respected. Any soceity with this openness alone makes a huge difference. Such societies exists. Anyone is automatically inclined to do things out of this personalized feeling.

    Besides, as adults, none of us can force any other to oblige beyond their capacities. So, this gap need be bridged.

    Knowledge migrants for instance cannot be treated like asylum seekers or other skilled workers. Countries with English as a native language have 40 long years of tradition esp. with countries like India and hence can woo them more than Europe does. So, the Dutch must not lose out to an international competition for want of a language.

    Let there be opportunities of growth for people coming from abroad. Let this package then accomodate the requirement for Dutch. I have come here for 4 years bec'z I am cheap to hire and then I am asked to leave with relatively poor opportunities to pursue a career beyond. so, tell me, can I bother about the language or my future ?

    So, I think, integration is a 2 way process. It has to get intellectual.
  • Daniel posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 11:05:09 - Reply

    I totally agree with Sarah, this seems to be the case where ever I am trying to practise my Dutch, be it at the Doctor, restaurant or in a shop. I do my best to speak Dutch but am always responded to in English. How am I to practise what I have learnt if I can only speak English all day!!!

    It is a 2 way street in order for this to work!!
  • Living in Noord Brabant posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 11:02:47 - Reply

    I agree 100% with Jennifer. I understood what was said in Dutch because I have studied it for 2.5 years. A foreigner won't have a clue what was said.

    A good idea to encourage learning of the language but could've been communicated in a better way.
  • Jonathan Marks posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 10:59:19 - Reply

    I agree with those interviewed. Knowing Dutch is important if you want to make social contact. It would have been much better making a campaign to show "foreigners" making an effort and how the Dutch need to encourage this. The climate towards foreigners goes in cycles of looking outward and then becoming extremely inward looking. I think we're bumping along the bottom now of very parochial thinking. Its partly linked to the standards of foreign language teaching which seem to be plummeting compared to other countries (especially in Asia).
  • swhite44 posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 10:59:12 - Reply

    The best solution would be for NL to convert to using English only, since Dutch is an obsolete and useless language, only clung to by a tiny minority of the world population. It's main use seems to be to alienate and justify prejudice against foreigners.
  • Macca posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 10:54:30 - Reply

    I agree with you Jennifer, I watched the advert and really did not see the point of it (Mainly as I did not understand it...). OK there is maybe a different issue as The non english speakers will obviosuly find it very difficult to live here but as Sarah says even if you try a little Dutch invariably the responce will be in English.

    I do however agree it is important to have an understanding of Dutch as many website and especially literature from utilities companies, Gemente etc... are generally in Dutch and the Dutch love to send letters, even if just to tell you soon you will recieve another letter !!!
  • Jennifer posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 10:46:40 - Reply

    If they are targeting people that don't speak Dutch ... why is the film in Dutch?!? It seems like a waste of money since it won't reach the people intended. Seems like it will just "fuel" the bad attitude of the Dutch toward foreigners that don't speak their language. I've found the Dutch to be extremely arrogant at times and I don't see any reason that they have to be arrogant!
  • Nick posted:

    on 11th March 2009, 10:42:58 - Reply

    That is not my experience at all. Most documentation is available in English, Turkish and other languages. I find the Dutch pleasant and very bilingual people.
  • terry posted:

    on 5th March 2009, 14:23:01 - Reply

    That does not explain dutch refusal to speak english when they can, i left with my E100,000 euros, because of the rudeness and ignorance generally used by the dutch over the last 5 years or so, this is clearly government led, same with utilities too, would of learned if did not get this behaviour, as in uk we are not like that at all and bend over backwards to help all, by providing info in a number of languages, so live and learn cloggies.......