A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
That’s what Joanne Harris once said, and she couldn’t have been more correct.
Before I moved to the Netherlands, I couldn’t imagine staying in a country this long without feeling super comfortable speaking the language. After all, you’re constantly surrounded by it – you’re bound to learn it, right? Here’s the catch though: In the Netherlands, you can get by with a minimal understanding of Dutch and – since everyone here speaks very good English – not even that is strictly necessary.
As a consequence, few of us international students are actually fluent by the time we complete our studies. Don’t get me wrong, we know tons of random words (Lekker!) and are eager to learn the language properly. After all, it’s a big part of the culture we’re trying to be a part of.
Very commendably, lots of students start to self-study, with the help of books, apps or their Dutch friends. There are some great articles about that on the Leidener, so make sure to check them out!
Personally, I need language lessons to really get started with a new language. Fortunately, the faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences offers just that:
The Daily Dutch course is a great introduction to Dutch language and culture. Over the span of 12 weeks, you’ll improve your written and spoken Dutch to the A1 level. That means you’ll be able to hold a simple conversation concerning the ten topics that are covered in the lessons. The course starts two times a year and any student can sign up – even if you’re not studying at the FSW faculty.
You might have seen the courses offered by Leiden’s language centre. What’s the difference, you ask? Daily Dutch is held by Dutch students instead of professional teachers. In my experience, that was actually a real asset, as both our tutors combined great teaching with a fun and relaxed atmosphere (heel gezellig).
Another perk of the Daily Dutch course is its price. You can participate for just 65€ (and an additional 10€ for renting the book) – that is definitely the cheapest course you can take in Leiden.
To facilitate the integration of international students, it would be helpful to have more courses like Daily Dutch: It is fun, affordable and you can start in every year of your studies. Most Daily Dutch alumni would have loved to continue studying Dutch to a higher level – introducing Daily Dutch A2 (or even B level) would certainly be a huge success! So, if you want to improve your Dutch and make some great friends on the way, I wholeheartedly recommend the Daily Dutch course!
The spots are limited (around 20), so make sure to sign up on time!
How are you improving your Dutch? Do you have any tips or tricks? Let us know in the comments!
PS: There are also some Dutch courses offered by the University’s language centre; stay posted for an overview and don’t miss the “how-to-sign-up-without-paying-200-euros”- section.