Expat zone
Posted on: May 26, 2014

Ways to learn dutch

Mike Klianis

This post is also available in Greek

It has been more than 2 years that I have been wandering around this country not knowing how to speak Dutch. My English ain’t perfect but its enough for me to live a life in or near Amsterdam without having to speak a word of Dutch.

In the beginning I felt like crying every time I heard the announcements at the train stations where you don’t really need to know “high level” Dutch to understand what the announcer is talking about.

The truth is that when you get here and until you sort your life out a bit and realise how things work, learning the language is a difficult thing. You see, Dutch is not your typical language with a “normal” syntaxing (as if that exists). The sounds that you will hear coming out as words sometimes will make you disbelief that they are composed of letters belonging to an alphabet.


I had a lot of choices on where to go and learn this language. I could pick between classes in Greek, English or Dutch.

In order to be taught in Greek you can always go to the Greek community in your city to ask if they have courses. There are also Greeks or Greek speaking teachers that do private lessons or shared (with some friends perhaps) in order to reduce costs.


If you decide that along with your Dutch you would like to improve your English as well, then this is a great chance for you since you can always enroll in an expat class. You can always find speed courses online and on various prices. But, this is not a cheap solution since the speed courses are costly in order to teach you the basics in a short amount of time.

If you are an Amsterdam resident though and you got free time along with some savings, you can always go and attend Dutch classes at the UVA university. You can see more information about that on the UVA website intt.uva.nl/ or here.


Sponsored classes by your city hall (Gemeente)

I had been hearing for a long time about these free Dutch lessons that anyone can take via their city’s Gemeente and as soon as I moved to Amsterdam I run to the nearest Gemeente to find out more. They told me that I would have to take the inburgering program in which I will not only learn the language but also a lot of useful insights into Dutch culture.

With no second thoughts I said yes and filled out the application to be on the next class. A month later I received an envelope with an appointment for mini interview in order to determine my level so that I could be placed with people closer to my culture and level.


And this is how ended up in a class with people around my age or older from countries from all over the world, like Poland, Romania, Maroco, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Turkey, trying to communicate in Dutch only (which I dont speak yet), since English was only talked around by 2 or 3 people in the class.

Classes are 2 or 3 times a week, 3 hours long each, in Dutch and pretty relaxed. It is actually quite helpful in teaching you the basics, like counting, giving instructions and kinda communitcating.


I don’t know yet if you could learn to speak proper from this class, but, if you got the time, its a great and free trip into the Dutch reality, in which you can make some great new friends from all over the world and learn things from other cultures that you would never even have imagined possible. At the same time, you also get to learn a bit of Dutch.

Along with the language you get to go on some mini trips in interesting places like the zoo, exhibitions or museums, so that you can create a strong portfolio that will also help you get to know the town and country you chose to live.


Learn more here or ask around in your local Gemeente hereor just ask at your local Gemeente!

In 2014 the Netherlands “demands” that you know the language in order to get a better job, more friends and to actually understand what all these people around you are really saying. It is not easy, on the contrary, but, it is worth it!

Mike Klianis

Designer, marketer & a social media karate kid (No 4). When she grows up, she wants to feed the world with Greek food & Frappe. Admires the yellow angry bird because it strikes its targets with power and precision.