Do Dutch people like to speak English?
Suppose you are sitting on a terrace in Utrecht and you order a glass of red wine in Dutch. The waiter responds with a question in fluent English: Would you like me to bring you the wine card?
Many language learners feel insecure about their Dutch at such a moment. They might start doubting the words they used when ordering. Or they think they have a heavy accent. The result is that the rest of the conversation takes place in English.
Does this sound familiar? Then read on.
Talk Dutch to me
If you learn Dutch, it is of course smart to speak the language as much as possible. Every interaction with a Dutch person is a possibility. From a simple "thank you and goodbye" at the supermarket to a full conversation at the hairdresser's: you can learn from all conversations! But what do you do if Dutch people respond to you in English?
In fact it is simple: say that you want to learn Dutch and that you want to talk in Dutch. And repeat that message if necessary!
It is well intended
Most people in the Netherlands speak English well and they like to speak it! Many Dutch people assume that their English is better than your Dutch and that the conversation runs better in English. So it is actually well intended, but not useful if you want to learn the language. Say clearly that you want to speak Dutch. Even if this makes the conversation a bit more difficult.
Such a small country
Dutch people often cannot believe that there are people who want to learn their language. They think Dutch is not that important. The Netherlands is not large and is geographically located between a few giant languages (English, French and German). At school children learn English and usually also a few other languages. The Dutch are therefore used to learning other languages, but they do not expect other people to learn their language.
In addition, the idea prevails in the Netherlands that the Dutch language is very difficult and that nobody wants to learn it voluntarily. Ask Dutch people what they think of their own language. That is also a nice conversation starter!
Use your knowledge
So, Dutch people are not used to foreigners learning their language. That is why many people will be positively surprised if you tell them that you are learning the language. Talk about your learning process, which can be an eye-opener for Dutch people. They often do not know what is difficult about their mother tongue. For example, ask a Dutch person what the difference is between want and omdat or when they use er and te. This certainly results in funny conversations!