A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
If you’re moving to the Netherlands this summer, chances are you’re not exactly fluent in Dutch. That’s totally fine. After all, the Dutch are known for speaking very good English. Nevertheless, it’s really nice to speak the local language – and has a lot of advantages: It will be a lot easier to understand the culture or to find a student job, and you’ll feel more at home in your new (temporary) home.
There are a lot of useful language apps, which can teach you the basics before you even set foot in the Netherlands. If you’re feeling nervous or just very excited about the big move, this is a great way to soothe your nerves. In my experience, however, apps are no substitute for a good old-fashioned language class. If you want to take one of those, Leiden University is the right place to start!
Maybe you came across something called “SPOC Dutch & More”. It looks like a tiny online Dutch course, but there is a lot more to it! You could say that there is a treasure waiting at the end… Intrigued? Continue reading then.
The online class is free for all incoming and current students of Leiden University. You’ll go through five short lessons, that will teach you the basics of Dutch grammar and vocabulary (Hoi, mijn naam is…). The cool thing about this class is that it uses realistic and relevant examples, tailored to international student life in Leiden or The Hague. Like this, you’ll know how to buy fresh vegetables from the market in Leiden! The course starts twice a year (in June and December) and if you don’t have an access code yet, you can get it here: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/language-centre/courses/dutch/spoc-dutch-more
So far so nice, but where is the free stuff?
Of course, you won’t be fluent in Dutch after five small lectures (How nice would that be? I’d probably try to learn all the languages there are if it was really that easy). The SPOC course is designed to be a basic introduction to Dutch language and culture, but Leiden’s Academic Language Centre offers a lot more. You can study Dutch at every level – with qualified language teachers and in small groups. The only problem I’d have with that is the price. On the website you can see that 12 lessons will cost (prospective) students 215€ – and that’s not including materials. “Ok, but language courses are expensive, that’s just the way it is”, you might say now. While that’s true, I’d argue that most students don’t have a lot of spending money and might decide to (indefinitely) postpone the course. Considering how beneficial it is to know the local language, that would be a really big shame.
Now to the part you’ve been waiting for: The part where the Dutch course gets affordable.
If you complete the SPOC Dutch course, you are entitled to a special voucher. This magical voucher will get you into the Dutch 1B class – while only paying 75€! Amazing, right? And remember, you don’t have to be an incoming student, you can sign up for the SPOC class at any point during your studies and then continue with a follow-up class (I didn’t know this myself, so I really can’t stress it enough).
So if you are considering to start a Dutch class with the Academic Language Centre, check out the SPOC Dutch & More class beforehand. It could save you a lot of money!
Did you do the SPOC course? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!