Recommend a good Dutch immersion course in the Netherlands
August 13, 2013 7:36 PM   Subscribe

I find myself in the extraordinary position of having two weeks' vacation to use up by the end of the year, and I've decided that what I want to do is to go to the Netherlands and take an immersion beginner's Dutch course, likely in November.

I've done the Pimsleur basic Dutch, and am just about at the point where I can say "hoe gaat het met u" without completely humiliating myself, but that's about it. My background is that of a native American English speaker, with conversational French, what I fondly refer to as supermercado Spanish, and a little German, but I'm really interested to add Dutch to the stable because it seems so intriguingly just out of my grasp, and I've really enjoyed the couple of trips to the Netherlands I've had. (Also, I really like saying "gezellig.") I'm interested in expatriating, and the Netherlands are on the shortlist, but I have no firm plans at the moment, so this is strictly for fun/personal enrichment.

I've investigated a few places, but it's hard for me to judge whether or not an institute is worthwhile or not at this distance (Chicago). I looked at the nuns, who are apparently the best possible of all immersion courses, but at €3350/wk, they're out of my price range. The Direct Dutch folks in den Haag and Learn Dutch Fast in Amsterdam are currently my best ideas. So I'm curious if anyone has direct experience with either of those two providers (and lodgings advice for them, if so?), or any other recommendations. I'd really like to keep the whole two weeks to under USD4k if possible, USD5k at most (with ~USD1k of that for airfare).

Also, any recommendations for Dutch-speaking opportunities in Chicago, so I don't go do this and lose everything in under six months, would be fantastic!

Dank u wel!
posted by sldownard to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's hard to get a true immersion experience in the Netherlands because everybody will speak English back to you when you speak Dutch.

These folks might be helpful: Dutch Club Chicago. There's also a Dutch language group on

Also, it looks like the Tulip School in Naperville might offer lessons for adults. (scroll to the bottom of the page)
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 10:16 PM on August 13, 2013

Best answer: The University College Utrecht was awesome (I liked the variety of methodology, especially the speech therapist to help with pronunciation) but pricey (695 E/course). Apparently it's called Babel now. Their open courses are semester-long, but it appears they have individually-tailored course options which may work for you.

Seconding Gringos regarding everyone speaking English. For an immersion experience, try the outdoor markets, where you can find Dutch-speaking foreigners manning the stalls who tend to be less fluent in English. Veel success!
posted by FiveSecondRule at 10:47 PM on August 13, 2013

I have heard good things about Direct Dutch.

You may also look at Talencoach (specifically their "Dutch Brainwash" course) and The School for Dutch, both located in Amsterdam.

I took a course at The School for Dutch. I wasn't blown away, but I did like that they provided a lot of online homework exercises.
posted by neushoorn at 3:06 AM on August 14, 2013

A full, immersive course might be tricky within the Netherlands with your price limit. The Radboud in'to Languages program offers a 5-day intensive course, which is EUR3650 (USD4800).
posted by knile at 6:20 AM on August 14, 2013

Oh, I just remembered I had a card on my desk from a Dutch firm, Mentaal, which offers reasonably priced intensive courses. I've met one of the employees, who was very nice and taught a weekly conversational course at my workplace, which people thought was effective.
posted by knile at 6:22 AM on August 14, 2013

Response by poster: I've just gotten back from my trip to den Haag, where I took the intensive two-week introductory course at Direct Dutch. I can't sing their praises highly enough. The program was hard, very hard -- 9:30-5PM daily, plus a couple hours of homework each night, and so by the end of two weeks I was pretty whipped. But the staff were amazing, and the program was so incredibly well planned. On day three I was confident enough to speak in Dutch to shopkeepers when I was buying things (I might possibly have come back from lunch that day and squeed all over our morning docent about how someone didn't switch back to English as soon as she heard me speak). By day five I was giving transit directions to someone who asked for help, and surviving the Haagse Markt and navigating things on my own with confidence. And by day ten, someone asked me if I spoke English. (Granted, it was because I didn't understand when he said that the DVD I wanted to buy was upstairs, and I'd asked him twice to repeat himself because I legitimately had no idea what "upstairs" was, but still.) My friend who just passed her NT2 says she feels less confident than I do talking with people. If you need to learn Dutch, Direct Dutch are the people to see. Seriously. The Nuns might have trained Koningin Maxima, but Direct Dutch trained the American Ambassador, Fay Levin. My only regret is that I didn't have the vacation time to take the second intensive course, because I'm pretty sure I would be fluent if I survived that.

Also, there is a ridiculously adorable school dog, Buffy, so if you ever feel in doubt, you can go give ear skritches to someone who really, really gets you at a deep and meaningful level.
posted by sldownard at 2:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

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