Despite what people may say, Dutch is not in fact a particularly difficult language to learn. Even though most Dutch people speak English, it is most certainly worth learning Dutch as soon as you can. There are many people who live here for years without speaking Dutch, and survive fine: but if you really want to feel properly at home, it's great to speak the language. Added to that, of course, there's a good chance that your children will be chatting away in Dutch very soon, and unless you want them to be able to say 'Mummy's got a big bottom' without you understanding, it's wise to be ahead of their game.
A common complaint of people learning Dutch is that everyone still talks to you in English. You just have to be firm, and persevere, even if it seems mad that you are speaking Dutch and they are speaking English. Just keep at it and you'll get there! Having the guts to speak is half the battle. I had a kind local greengrocer on whom I used to practise my 'Ik wil twee appels, graag' on. You can practise in plenty of unintimidating surroundings, and joining the Dutch Conversation Group of Leiden Expats is another way of overcoming your reservations. It really is worth it!
There are lots of different ways of learning Dutch, from intensive residential courses to one-on-one tutoring in your own house. In my experience, it is best to immerse yourself as much as you can, and there are plenty of intensive options available. A couple of hours a week isn't really enough to make much progress very fast. However, if you are trying to combine learning Dutch with looking after small children an intensive option can be impossible. If you are motivated, one option is to follow an online course. I personally followed the Delft Method at the TU in Delft (see www.delftsemethode.nl), which was amazing - this course is available online for home study, and I believe it is also the basis of the Leiden University course, although do be aware that it has been adapted and is not as effective as in its original form.
Depending on what brings you here and how long you mean to stay, you may or may not need to do an ' inburgeringscursus
' and be obliged to follow a Dutch course. There are also other relevant issues, a good introduction to which can be found in this Access leaflet: Learning the Dutch Language
, although this, like most Access information, is based on the assumption that you are only in the Netherlands temporarily.
If you go to www.nt2nl, you can find various options, including the Delft Method, and other grammar support and news in Dutch etc.
This is a women-only group taught by a volunteer at the fantastic VKC (the Women's centre in Leiden), and while much less formal it is very well suited to those on low incomes (it costs € 10 for 10 lessons), especially those with young children, as they may be able to help with childcare during your lessons.
Please see the website www.vkcdespiegeling.nl for more details, or contact them on 071 523 34 80 (Weekdays 9am-3pm) / email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are two relative newcomers to the language classes scene in Leiden , Lingua Franca and Thuis in Taal. Both are very reasonably priced, particularly Thuis in Taal, probably because of its semi-charitable roots.
Lingua Franca (www.linguafranca.nl) offers a range of fairly intensive courses (some 2x per week, with homework) in small groups for moderate prices. According to their website they are very flexible as to time, location, class size and course start date, also offering private lessons.
Thuis in Taal (www.stichtingthuisintaal.nl) offer one-on-one lessons up to three hours a week (in sets of twelve lessons) and will also help you prepare for the language part of the inburgeringsexamen , the citizenship test.
If anyone has experience with either of these and would like to tell us about it, please contact email@example.com
with your comments.
There are a range of courses available on different days and at different levels: from beginners to advanced. They say: ‘If you intend to follow a course Dutch for foreigners / Nederlands NT2 we strongly advise you to attend a language information day or get in touch with us through our website www.BplusC.nl, an email: info@BplusC.nl or by telephone 0900 23 23 000. To follow the courses at level 1 and 2 it is necessary to understand English. You should count on at least 4-6 hours of homework per week.' At the beginning of the academic year (September) they hod open days/evenings; check out www.bplusc.nl for more information.'
Check out www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/humanities for what the university may have to offer in the way of language courses; they often have courses particularly in the summer months open to the general public, along with what's available to students and staff.
Corine is an experienced Dutch and French teacher who has worked for various institutes such as BplusC since 2005 and has also taught on the inburgeringscursus
(course to become a Dutch citizen).
She gives private tuition in the pupil's home and can be reached on 071 541 82 16, or (mob) 06 28 54 71 65, her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is an initiative that aims to put people trying to learn Dutch in contact with local Dutch people, to meet up once a week and chat, in order to improve their understanding of Dutch language and culture. With the help of your taalmaatje (language buddy) you'll get individual conversation and a head start with not only language but a whole lot of cultural and other information as well. Highly recommended!
Gilde SamenSpraak Leiden
2313 AG LEIDEN
Contact person: Madelon Smit-Den Blanken
Homestart is an originally British organization, which aims to provide (trained) volunteer support to families with young children (aged 6 and under) who are finding things a bit hard. A volunteer can come to your house once a week to help you, and one of the things they can do is speak Dutch to you and your family to help you learn. If you are interested in support (of both a moral and a linguistic kind!) go to website or contact:
Homestart (contact person Martine Scholtes)
Parmentierweg 49, 2316 ZV Leiden
Do use the Facebook and Yahoo groups to ask people for their experiences and find out about new teachers and groups!