How to make small talk in Dutch

How to make small talk in Dutch

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The language learning method used by Language Institute Regina Coeli ensures that you learn to speak a foreign language quickly and effectively. The institute's highly qualified trainers teach you the skills, vocabulary and grammar that you need for your specific situation, so you can immediately start communicating in your new language.

Despite Dutch directness, you’ll need to—if you wish to truly integrate into Dutch culture—be prepared to make a bit of small talk in Dutch. By being able to chat about any number of general subjects, you’ll connect with your colleagues, neighbours and business partners. It’s a valuable skill which you can quickly feel at ease using, because you don’t actually need a great deal of vocabulary for it.

Small talk during a formal appointment

The Dutch tend to get straight down to business in appointments. An informal, ice-breaking conversation takes place beforehand in the lift, while pouring coffee or while waiting for other participants to arrive. In these chats, you can expect questions like:

  • Was het druk op de weg? (Were the roads busy?)
  • Kon je het makkelijk vinden? (Did you have any trouble finding us / the place?)
  • Waar kom je vandaan? (Where do you come from?)
  • Hoe lang woon je al in Nederland? (How long have you been living in the Netherlands?)
  • Hoe bevalt het in Nederland? (How do you like the Netherlands so far?)

You should prepare for these kinds of questions, so you can answer them quickly, easily and naturally. They are an implicit way for the Dutch to see whether you fit in a bit and can be especially relevant during job interviews.

Getting on with colleagues

You run into a Dutch colleague you don’t know very well at the coffee machine. What should you say? A popular subject is the weekend, for instance:

  • Fijn weekend gehad? (Did you have a good weekend?)
  • Bijna weekend! (It’s nearly weekend!)
  • Nog twee dagen en het is weer weekend. (Just two more days and it’s the weekend again.)
  • On Wednesday: De week is weer doormidden! (We’re almost over the hump!)

Of course, you can always broach a subject held dearly by the Dutch: the weather. They never tire of talking about it. Some examples:

  • Lekker weertje buiten. (Nice weather, isn’t it?)
  • If it’s raining, windy, snowing or unpleasant in any way: Wat een weer… (Isn’t this weather bad?)
  • If the weather is bad and better weather is forecasted: Gelukkig wordt het beter weer. (Luckily, it’s supposed to improve.)

Other things you can say:

  • Hoe gaat het? (How are you doing / how are things going?) The most common answers are: Goed. (Fine.) and Druk! (It’s been very busy.)
  • Zo, het is tijd voor koffie. (And now it’s time for some coffee.)

Your situation 

To quickly start communicating in Dutch, the best thing you can do is learn the specific language you need for your own situation. A language course can help you with this. 

Regina Coeli’s beginner’s programme focuses particularly on language for your everyday life. Contact them for more information—learning Dutch is easier than you think!



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