As most people know, English is widespread in the Netherlands. In fact, around 90% of the Dutch population is able to speak and understand this Germanic language. Additionally, the level of spoken English is mostly high due to international relationships and education as Dutch children have to start learning English in primary school.
As a foreign dentist you might ask yourself: Why it is required to learn Dutch when most people in the Netherlands can interact in the English language? First of all, it is very important that you are able to explain yourself well when treating patients in a dental clinic in the Netherlands. There is a high chance that your work involves a lot of dental jargon (technical language) which has to be explained with more simplicity to the patient. And at these times, the language barrier will be more prominent. Due to it concerning healthcare, people are more confident hearing the information in their mother tongue as it is easier to digest what has been told.
Besides that, it is also one of the requirements when wanting to work as a dentist in the Netherlands. Since 2017, every foreign dentist is obliged to pass the Dutch Language exam for Medical professionals in order to gain the BIG-registration. Therefore, it is important to have at least a B2+ level of Dutch which enables you to communicate with your patients.
In addition, speaking Dutch will help you integrate with your colleagues, workplace procedures and social gatherings. So it doesn’t only benefit you during workhours, but will also give you a better understanding of the Dutch culture.
When you’re in the Netherlands, you will notice that Dutch people have a tendency to switch to English as soon as they hear you’re not a native speaker. Don’t let this put you off! It’s not because of your poor language skills, Dutch people mostly think they are doing you a favor.
In order to fully master a language, it’s important you practice as much as possible. Even when switching to English might seem the easiest option in a country where almost everyone speaks English fluently. You’ll be happy you did so, once you’re impressing your new friends and colleagues in Dutch!