It is easy to assume that most individuals whom you will encounter in Amsterdam will understand you if you begin speaking to them in English (at least as far as the Dutch inhabitants are concerned). Most Dutch people begin learning the English language early on in their primary education, and at least half of the cable television programmes are shown in English (with Dutch subtitles), so many will tell you that it is nearly impossible to live there and not understand English to some extent. In Amsterdam, this is most pronounced due to the metropolitan, cosmopolitan, international and multi-cultural atmosphere of this centre of commerce and tourism.
Nonetheless, if you plan to stay in Amsterdam for a longer period of time, you might begin to feel left out of the city that is going on around you if you do not begin to engage with it in a more local sense. While it is true that almost everyone will understand you and you will not have a problem making your way around the city, it is also important to consider the fact that there is a social and cultural world that will remain distant from you if you do not choose to learn Dutch, the native language. Of course, your active participation and engagement in the life of the city is hardly dependent upon your understanding of Dutch, but it is amazing to see how the world begins to expand before you, as you begin to interact with it on this whole new level.
At first, the language might come across as harsh in its sound and tone, and people often have a hard time differentiating the words that are rapidly spoken among people conversing casually in their daily lives. Surprisingly, if you pick up a Dutch newspaper or purchase a beginner language textbook, you might notice that many of the words look more familiar than they sound. The language is much easier to learn than you would think, and with practice and perseverance, you will be interacting with locals within months. Perhaps it is worth noting that most Dutch people find it exceptional and impressive to hear someone take the time and make the effort to learn Dutch, and they are usually willing to help.
Dutch Language Schools
Instituut Nederlands als Tweede Taal
This is the leading institute for learning Dutch as a second language within the Netherlands, as its name suggests. Its courses range from absolute beginner to the most advanced, and with teachers from the University of Amsterdam, who work in the development of language learning materials. Courses are offered for 6 weeks, meeting twice a week for 3 hours; you can also take the intensive 4 week program that meets daily.
Spuistraat 134 1012 VB Amsterdam
This institute specialises in business and governmental courses as well as group sessions (4-8 individuals). The rates for these courses are 895 euros per/person for 30 hours of lessons.
Dam 27 (6th floor), 1012 JS, Amsterdam
Other Language Schools in Amsterdam
Rapenburgerstraat 73, 1011 VK Amsterdam
Entrada 151, 1096 EC Amsterdam
The School for Dutch
Weteringschans 74, 1017 XR Amsterdam