If you’re from an English speaking country, traveling to The Netherlands can be daunting. Don’t worry. There are many languages spoken in The Netherlands. Most other countries in the world ‘force’ (in a good way) their children to speak more than one language. The same is the case when it comes to The Netherlands. If you don’t know what languages we speak in The Netherlands and are worried, you should keep on reading.
Official Languages Of The Netherlands
Our official languages within The Netherlands (not Kingdom of The Netherlands) are Dutch and Frisian. Frisian is spoken in the province Friesland and is one of their official languages besides Dutch. Dutch is the official language for the rest of The Netherlands.
Dialects In The Netherlands
The Dutch language has many variations and dialects. People are always amazed when I tell them that a ten-minute drive will land me in another dialect. Because The Netherlands has so many dialects and variations it’s unknown how many dialects there are.
The most normal Dutch is called ‘Algemeen Nederlands’, meaning general Dutch. This is the Dutch you will hear on television, radio, read in papers, etc.Besides that, there are more general dialects such as Zeeuws (in the province of Zeeland), or Limburgs (in the province of Limburg).
West Fries is another one, and the one that I speak and understand. While the name has Fries in it, the area where West Fries is spoken goes by the name ‘De Kop van Noord-Holland’ (top of Noord-Holland) and is not in Friesland.
In Groningen, they speak ‘Gronings’, in Drenthe ‘Drents and in Noord-Brabant ‘Brabants. Within these dialects, there are many variations as well, which form another dialect.
Fun fact: When I was on a holiday in Albania (go there, it’s a beautiful country) I met a Dutch guy who was from the area of Noord-Brabant. He started talking to me in Brabants and honestly, it was difficult to understand. I had to listen carefully because it’s so different from my dialect. So these dialects aren’t some words that are different. The sentences change, the tones, the words, etc. It creates a whole other language.
Foreign Languages Spoken In The Netherlands
Besides Dutch, almost everyone knows English in The Netherlands. We start with learning English at primary school. Some people aren’t confident in speaking it, but they will know. The older people don’t always know English, but if you ask a question they will ask someone else to help you out.
When on High School, in general, they will teach German and/or French for two or three years. This depends on the level of high school, but we are not going further into this right now. You can also choose extra languages such as Turkish, Frisian, Spanish, etc.
The students on the highest level of high school in The Netherlands have to study Latin and Greek as well.
So if you are planning on visiting The Netherlands and am worried about getting around, don’t worry. We speak Dutch and English for sure. Most people speak at least basic German and French as well.
Have you travelled to The Netherlands already? If so, did you have any trouble with the communication? If you are traveling to The Netherlands soon and were worried about a language barrier, I hope I eased your mind a little bit. Is there anything else you’d like to know? Share this post!
Hey there! My name is Manon and I'm the founder of Visiting The Dutch Countryside, a local travel blog about The Netherlands. I also wrote the article you just read. I'm a Dutch, born and raised, travel blogger. I decided that it's time that tourists explore The Netherlands beyond the crowds and not just Amsterdam. Have fun exploring The Netherlands!