Language and culture

Learning Dutch language and culture is useful, especially to those who are planning to live in the Netherlands for a longer period of time. In the short-term, it could help you to navigate day-to-day tasks such as grocery shopping and paying bills and interacting with locals, and in the longer-term it could increase your opportunities for employment and studies. Find out more about learning Dutch and its culture to help you adapt in the Hague region.

Language and Multilingualism

The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, with (West) Frisian recognised as an official minority language. Several other regional dialects and related languages are also protected under law. Whilst the vast majority (over 90 percent of people under the age of 50) will speak English, some older people may not- or may choose not to. It is common for Dutch people to be somewhat bashful about their level of English- to only then demonstrate perfect English themselves.

Learning Dutch is useful, especially to those who are planning to live in the Netherlands for a longer period of time. Learning Dutch is also a great way to learn more about the Dutch culture and history and to meet the locals! In the short term, it could help you to navigate day-to-day tasks, such as grocery shopping and paying bills, and in the long term it could increase your opportunities for employment and studies. Acquiring even an elementary level of Dutch will make your life easier and make you feel more at home. 

You may hear people speaking in languages used in Dutch overseas territories and former colonies, such as Papiamento: a creole language that mixes Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch; and; and English, along with its own words. Papiamento is widely spoken in the Dutch-influenced Caribbean. Dutch is spoken in the Netherlands, in the Northern part of Belgium, on the Dutch Caribbean Islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, in Suriname and some in South Africa.

Learning Dutch

It is generally advisable to learn at least basic Dutch: not only because it makes you more employable, but Dutch people tend to enjoy hearing others trying out their language. This is because the number of Dutch speakers is very small in global terms. Luckily for those wishing to learn Dutch in The Hague region, there are plenty of options. Whether you’d like to undertake an intensive course, follow a weekly group course to learn and meet people at the same time, or join a free course, there’s plenty of options. Find out more about learning Dutch in The Hague region to explore your options for language courses.


Dutch culture has a lot to offer and can be considered relatively easy to adapt to. However, a good preparation for typical Dutch tendencies will prevent you from being caught-off guard from the pragmatic and straight-forward approach the Dutch are known for.

The Dutch society is considered independent and modern in a middle-class society. Dutch communities are individualistic cultured, and they believe in equality for all. Respect is not garnered by age or association, but by hard work and acquired skills. Don’t be surprised to see the Prime Minister of the Netherlands riding on a bike in The Hague during your usual working week.  

The Dutch tend to approach life sober-minded. You’re often asked what you think and there isn’t much room for non-verbal complaints, which is generally valued over being nice. Being very nice is often considered a waste of time and may cause the impression that you need a special favour.

In the workplace

In the workplace, the Dutch expect an openness and directness from all levels in the working environment. It’s normal to share your opinion and to ask questions. In business, the Dutch like to consider the risks and consequences of everything they do. The tend to make the detailed calculations before making a business decision.

Music and arts  

The Netherlands has a lively cultural scene, generously funded by the Dutch government. In The Hague, you can enjoy a fascinating range of world-class performances, concerts or events in one of our many historical or modern venues. The regional information tourism agency has a list of arts and culture activities to join in with.

Cultural Do’s and don’ts

Some of the cultural do’s and don’ts to ensure you’re not caught off guard by the Dutch culture, involve punctuality, consensus and directness. Find out more about the Dutch cultural do’s and don’ts to prepare yourself for your interactions with Dutch locals.