Home FAQ Is Amsterdam English Friendly?

Is Amsterdam English Friendly?

by Rafal Sulowski

Amsterdam is an amazing and very unique spot on the map of Europe. I would say that it’s totally different than any other part of the Netherlands. It’s because of its multiculturalism. People from all over the world come to the capital of Holland. The number of different languages and accents you can hear on a daily basis is incredible. But what about English? Is Amsterdam English Friendly?

Amsterdam is an English friendly city. Over 90% of Dutch people can speak English at a high level. You can communicate in English anywhere and with anyone. Living in Amsterdam for an English speaking person is very easy, when it comes to communication.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Yup, that’s right, even Dutch people complain that they have no one around who they can speak in Dutch with. That’s true. Last week I was talking to the Dutch guy in T-mobile shop and he mentioned that none of his neighbors speak Dutch. I think there is a reason behind this but I will mention it later in this article. I will also explain why Dutch people can speak English that good. Keep on reading and post in the comment section below if you have any question.

Is Amsterdam English Friendly?

There is a huge English speaking community in the Netherlands. Imagine that Dutchnews.nl – a Dutch news site in English has over 1 200 000 views a month. That’s quite a lot. Many events and meetings are held in English. If you are new in the city you should try Meetup. There are some meetups for the english speaking community of Amsterdam. Last Friday I was in the Louie Louie bar and there were about 100 people.

Amsterdam is an international, business-oriented city. There is no problem finding a job if you can’t speak Dutch. Even people working in cafes or shops often don’t speak Dutch. Of course, if you can speak Dutch, you will have much more opportunities in the Netherlands, that’s for sure. There are positions which require you to speak Dutch and companies which hire only Dutch-speaking employees. It all depends on what you do, where you want to work and what’s your dream job.

Expat community in Amsterdam is quite impressive. There are many events, websites, and organizations dedicated to foreigners. Amsterdam is English friendly and it’s a great city for expats. It’s very easy to get to know new people. Keep in mind that people are coming here from all over the world and they want to be part of the community, so they go out and they are very open-minded.

Why Dutch Speak So Good English?

Dutch can speak English so well because this language is introduced to them very early at school. They have a chance to learn it already in primary school. There are also plenty of bilingual opportunities for students.

English is very popular in the Netherlands

Another thing is that English is very popular and they have access to this language since the very young age. For example movies on TV are always in English with subtitles. There is no dubbing, even in the cinema, most movies are displayed with subtitles. Total immersion is the best way to learn a new language and in this case, they are immersed in a foreign language since they are little children. In other words, they start learning before they even focus on learning.

They want to practice foreign languages

I think Dutch know English so well because of their mentality. They like talking in English because they have this attitude that they want to practice foreign languages. If you come to the Netherlands and you start learning Dutch you’ll realize that it’s not that easy to practice. When you talk to Dutch people and they realize that your Dutch is very basic they immediately switch to English. When I was learning Dutch I had often to remind my Dutch friends that I want to learn and they should talk to me in their language. They also don’t encourage you to speak. When someone tries to speak my language I cheer him up. First of all, it sounds funny when they try to talk and secondly I like when someone wants to speak my language. Dutch are very different in this matter and when you speak basic Dutch, you can see the disappointment on their faces. I think it’s because the Dutch accent is difficult and it’s not that easy for them to understand what we try to say.

They see it as a chance in their carrier

Amsterdam is an international, business focused city. You can hear English on every corner. That is the reason behind willingness to speak English on a high level. They want to have a high value on the already competitive market.

Dutch can afford learning

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

For some people, it can sound weird, but that’s true. When I was a child, English classes were only of rich children, not each parent could afford this. Today it’s different because of the access to the Internet. Now almost everyone has unlimited opportunity to learn. There is plenty of free courses online, but back then it wasn’t that easy. Even today you can’t learn on your own, you need someone who corrects you and gives you some tips. You need some money for this and Dutch definitely don’t have this problem. The Netherlands is a very wealthy country.

English and Dutch are similar

Maybe they don’t sound like this, but it’s true. Both of these languages belong to the West Germanic group of languages. Very often you can hear some English words when Dutch people are talking. There are lots of similar words. Grammar is also very similar. Dutch can learn a perfect English accent and native English people can learn almost perfect Dutch accent. It’s for them much easier than for other nationalities.

Do They Speak English in Amsterdam Airport?

Yes, They speak English in Amsterdam airport. You won’t have any problems with communication. If you would like to learn something more about Schiphol, the biggest airport in the Netherlands and one of the biggest in the world, here is another article I have written about this –> Link Did you know that Amsterdam airport is 4 meters below the sea level?

Do I Need To Learn Dutch?

Of course you don’t have to learn anything. Is it helpful to know another language? Of course it is. You have to think what are your priorities and life plans. You never know what will help you on your path, but I think it’s waste of time learning Dutch, when you for example would like to spend your life in Spain and you don’t speak Spanish at the moment. First learn Spanish, right?

In Amsterdam you don’t need Dutch, that’s for sure. In little towns of the Nethlerlands, it would be much more helpful to speak Dutch.

If you plan to spend here a few years you should definitely learn some basics. It won’t take that much time and it will be very helpful when it comes to communication with municipality, doctor or tax office. There are some free online courses and I advise you to go for this. You don’t have to go to school to learn counting and basic words. Just learn on your own in the free time. There is a radio, podcasts, audiobooks, youtube videos. There are plenty of online sources and thanks to that you can learn basics in a short time. Going for the course is just a waste of money. Learn basics on your own and they hire a tutor who will correct your bad spelling and pronunciation.

Sum Up

Amsterdam is very English friendly. It’s a great place for English speaking clever people. Amsterdam is full of possibilities and it’s the capital of innovation, art, and business. If you are an English speaker you’ll be fine in Amsterdam.

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