Dutch Language Blog

4 Times Dutch is Very Important! Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Dutch Language

Everyone who has been to the Netherlands knows how easy it is to get by without any Dutch. The majority of people speak English and the Dutch are known to be extra happy to be able to speak English. As a foreigner, this may give the idea that the Netherlands is a place where you wont need to learn the local language. What for? Everyone will speak English with me, right?

Regardless of how many people are happy and willing to speak English, there are some situations when it is best to explain yourself in Dutch. Here are 4 Dutch-urgent situations I have encountered:

  • Huisarts

Going to the doctor is something no one likes to do, but we are all bound to do it at least once. Although doctors in the Netherlands speak English, I have found it is best to know your symptoms in Dutch so that you do not run the risk of any misunderstandings. Symptoms like koorts, hoofdpijn, buikpijn, and hoest are just a few of the important ones to know. Your health is very important so its best to be clear!

Doctors with patient, 1999

  • Overheid bellen

If any of you have had to make phone calls to DUO or the Belastingdienst, you know that the people who work there like to speak Dutch (at least the ones I’ve spoken to), and I think this is a good thing. There are certain terms that you will want to be sure of in Dutch so that your phone call is successful such as BSN nummer (the secret number that unlocks all things Dutch), studiegeld, formulier, etc.

Last Time We Spoke

  • Markt

One of my favorite things to do on Saturday is to go by the markt and buy fruits and veggies for the week to come. I also like looking around to see what flowers catch my eye and make their way to my house. The markt is a great place to practice Dutch and it is kind of a must to speak Dutch. A cousin of mine who lives in Den Haag told me that even in the markt they frequently go to in Den Haag, people will speak Dutch to him and his wife even if they ask for their food in English. It is no wonder that a local markt vendor from Morocco told me that he learned more Dutch selling at the markt than in his Dutch classes!


  • Trein

I have already written about how much I enjoy moving around with the train. Even now that I have my Dutch driver’s license, I prefer the train. However, the train has been my most Dutch-intensive experience in the Netherlands. The people who check your ticket as well as the ticket vendors always insist on speaking Dutch. I have heard plenty of them help tourists in English, but the moment they see you speak even just a bit, they choose Dutch. Even the ticket machines have more features in their Dutch version than their English version. The announcements via the speakers are also always in Dutch so if you don’t want to get caught in the middle of a platform change or a train that separates at a particular station, you better practice your Dutch!


In what situations have you found Dutch to be essential?

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!