Obviously, if you opened your mouth and started spouting about bitterballen and Hollanse Nieuwe Haring – or other traditional Dutch foods in the language of Amsterdam, most people would be convinced that you have a good grasp of Dutch.
University administrators might not be so keen to permit your enrolment in their Dutch language programme simply based on your holding forth in that tongue, though... they need actual credentials from a qualified examining board.
Where can you get them, now that Dutch A-Levels have been withdrawn?
And, are there any Dutch language programmes to major in at any of our universities anymore?
That is the topic your Superprof broaches today. Not just the dwindling avenues to certify your Dutch language skills in our country but the fact that, globally, Dutch is rapidly becoming a minor language, a fact that serves nobody well.
Least of all avid Dutch speakers like you!
The Case for Learning Dutch
Granted, Dutch is not among the most-spoken languages of the world, nor is it widely studied.
Furthermore, if you were to seek higher education in the Netherlands, you might be pleasantly surprised to find a multitude of undergraduate and graduate programs conducted entirely in English.
And, should you plan on relocating, say, to Utrecht or Rotterdam, you might be able to get by using just your English language skills as more than 80% of the natives can competently converse in English...
But none of that does anything for anyone who wishes to gain fundamental knowledge of that centuries-old culture!
Fact is, there are many reasons to learn Dutch, some fun and others seriously beneficial – besides all of the reasons that tongue enticed you to learn it.
Like you, we mourn the dwindling opportunities to study it in-depth in the UK. To that end, we now list where you could find qualified instruction in Dutch vocabulary and grammar.
Where Can You Take Dutch Classes?
We’ll just get the sad truth about Dutch language studies in our country out of the way right now: every certifying avenue, from GCSE and A-Levels to university degrees, have been withdrawn for 2 reasons:
Lack of student interest
Lack of qualified teachers and examiners
One might put the lack of learners desiring to know this language down to English speakers' apathy toward studying languages in general – a sad state of affairs, really!
On the other hand, you are living proof that not every Briton disdains to learn a second language, and there are surely more people who, like you, wish to communicate effectively in more than one language.
So, perhaps a combination of those two factors mentioned above make for a veritable chicken-and-egg scenario.
At least, that might have been the case 25 years ago, when the Internet was in its infancy!
In those days, language scholars had no choice but to accept the learning opportunities immediately available to them, or else relocate to where there would be a broader range of choices.
Today, thanks to modern technology, you may study just about any language you could think of in a virtual classroom, Dutch included.
In fact, several renowned institutes of higher learning on our island offer online classes in Dutch, the foremost one being University College London.
All of their Dutch courses – beginner, intermediate and advanced are taught strictly online, on a one-to-one basis.
As soon as you sign up for your language class, you will receive your login credentials via email. Once you’ve gained access to their learning portal, you may then avail yourself to your course materials and set your schedule.
Each course lasts 12 weeks and you have the option of taking courses concurrently – for example, you may sign up for Beginner 1 and Beginner 2, in which case your course duration would be doubled.
Their Advanced Dutch course lasts the same amount of time but requires either your completion of their intermediate course or certified Dutch language capability of at least B2 level on the CEFRL scale.
Patience, dear Reader: we will soon get to these certifications and how to attain them!
Successful completion of this advanced-level course will promote your language level to CEFRL C1... but you will have to test elsewhere to get your official certification.
Incidentally, if you truly wish to dive head-first into the history and evolution of the language, you may sign up for their Early Modern Dutch course or, if you are more of an economic bent, their Business Dutch lessons might appeal to you.
If these are the Dutch classes you’ve been looking for, you should rush to enrol in their January sessions; they are now accepting applications!
Should you live in London, and if your days are already filled, you might be interested in the Dutch language learning programmes at the University of Westminster.
These courses are not necessarily targeted toward any certification process; they are more conversational in nature, with their emphasis being more on speaking and listening.
Furthermore, you won’t get to the meat of the language – grammatical structures and verb usage unless you sign up for the advanced course and, even then there is little focus on reading and writing in Dutch.
Nevertheless, if you were looking for native speakers to test your pronunciation with and improve your language proficiency, these language courses might be a valuable review resource ahead of your certification exam.
Sadly, this course is not offered online but, if you were looking for a native Dutch speaker for online language training and exam preparation, why not turn to Superprof?
Superprof has more than 100 native Dutch speakers or who are English-Dutch bilingual to challenge your fluency and teach you all about the language and culture of the Netherlands.
One look at our Dutch tutors’ page will reveal each tutor’s experience with giving Dutch language lessons, attested by past students’ testimonials. You will also see, at a glance, how much each tutor charges per hour of instruction and that most Superprof tutors give their first hour of lessons at no charge!
For a learner preparing to take a language assessment test, a Superprof might be just your language study solution in the run-up to your certification exam!
Now, your patience will be rewarded as we finally talk about the official exams that will certify your Dutch language skills!
Official Language Exams for Dutch
That’s not a typo, dear Reader!
As opposed to CEFRLs in other European languages or the HSK, if you were learning Mandarin, there are in fact three separate language exams to prove your Dutch language ability; each accords to a specific set of circumstances.
The Inburgeringsexamen is designed for anyone wishing to immigrate to the Netherlands.
Such hopefuls must sit a preliminary exam at the Dutch embassy in their home country. The actual measure of one’s language acquisition takes place in the Netherlands, and only if the linguist has the pre-examination results in-hand.
A measure of controversy surrounds this particular foreign language exam; not the least of which is that even the average Dutch native speaker cannot pass the pre-exam!
The second, more likely exam would be the Staatsexamen Nederlands; a two-tier placement test suitable for foreign students wishing to study in the Netherlands.
Programme 1 corresponds to CEFRL’s B1 level of language capability; Programme 2 is more advanced.
Should you hope to live and undergo an apprenticeship in Amsterdam, the first exam should be sufficient; enrolling in a university or working would demand Programme 2 certification.
Finally, and overall the most comprehensive exam to prove your linguistic ability is the CNaVT: the Certificate of Dutch as a Foreign Language.
It is offered in 4 tiers:
PTIT: Tourist and informal language level corresponds to Level A2 on the CEFRL scale
PMT: equal to the CEFRL B1 language proficiency test
PTHO means those candidates are proficient at the professional or university level; CEFRL level B2
PAT: Level C1; an academic’s knowledge of the language and culture
As you might have been preparing to sit A-Levels, your best match likely would be PMT or PTHO.
On the other hand, if you have truly been diligent in your language course, your level of competence may be even higher!
Learning a language is a lifelong endeavour, as you surely know.
Very few people undertake language instruction purely for the learning experience; most people study language with a specific purpose in mind: a love of the culture, more job opportunities, relocation and the like.
As you, like most others, are likely purpose-driven in your studies, it stands to reason that you would want a means to legitimise your linguistics and, in the absence of any such vehicle in your home country, it would be logical to seek such outlets abroad.
And now, you know where to find them!
Now you should turn to this list of revision materials tailored to your aims!