The array of Dutch schools available in Amsterdam can be somewhat overwhelming when selecting a Dutch school, but it’s really important to pick the school that is most suitable for you. This is truly a personal decision — there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to language learning –, so do take the time to consider the factors that will affect you as a Dutch language learner.
1. The first and most important step is to determine what YOU need. Are you strapped for time due to a busy work schedule? Do you need to learn in an intensive setting to step up your Dutch skills before applying to Dutch-language jobs? Are you struggling with grammar? Do you thrive or struggle in group settings? Evaluating your needs and assets can already give a clear indication of what type of language learning environment would be best suited for you. If you know that you like to take your weekends off, committing to a Dutch class on the weekends might be a way to set yourself up for failure. Keep in mind your habits and weaknesses/strengths as well.
2. Think about the convenience of the Dutch language school. If you find a school that you’re really attracted to, but it’s not within a comfortable cycling distance from your home or work, you may later find it difficult to show up to class, which is, of course, an essential element of your language learning process.
If your work schedule is demanding — and especially if your company expects you to work in Dutch –, you may also want to consider asking your company to organize in-company trainings (Dutch classes organized in groups at your workplace). Or private lessons might be more suitable for you if you work better on a one-on-one basis and you can take an extended lunch break.
3. Consider your opportunities to practise. With a busy work schedule, you may want to find a class that encourages in-class participation and practise, rather than one that relies upon at-home grammar worksheets. Be honest with yourself — if you’re too busy to do pages of homework each week, find a Dutch school that focuses on a different teaching method and find ways to practise outside of class. For example, WhatsApping with Dutch friends and colleagues or watching Dutch TV.
However, if you have absolutely no time — and aren’t willing to make time — to improve your Dutch outside of your Dutch class, you may want to wait until you have some more time to spare.
4. Take a level test to determine your level. Most schools and tests in the Netherlands focus on Dutch language learners up to level B2, so as a beginner or intermediate student, you have a wide array of options. As an upper-intermediate or advanced student, your choices are narrower, and you may want to consider more personalized options to fill the gaps in your Dutch language development. Also keep in mind that many language schools rely on inexperienced Dutch teachers, so some budget schools that may have sufficed on a beginners level may not do the job when you progress to higher levels of Dutch.
5. Finally, reflect on your assets and hurdles as a learner. This will help you to determine which style or methodology of teaching might be most suitable for you. For many students — especially as adults –, memorization practices are not effective. Would you prefer a course that encourages social activities outside of class? Or one that personalizes the structure of the course to your needs?
Take the time to consider your wants, needs, and assets as a Dutch language learner and do your research! Another important aspect of choosing a Dutch language school is picking one that you trust and one where you feel comfortable — making a quick phone call to the school’s director can likely clue you in on the attitude of the school straightaway.
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