German language in the Netherlands

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Dutch Wikipedia has a page here on the German language in the Netherlands, where it is also showing a recent increase in popularity. German has also been showing a small increase in popularity in France as well. The student number given here (800 students) is probably not worth remembering though, since when a language is as easy as German is for Netherlanders it's more than likely that students of the language have chosen it for academic reasons alone - not sure what else to study, looks better on a resume than another major, etc. In Korea for example the most popular second language in high school right now is Arabic. Why? Because word went out that Arabic was the easiest language to score high on in university entrance exams, not because the language is easy but because the level of Arabic one needs to know to pass the test is so elementary compared to other languages. The more meaningful number here is the percentage of those that speak the language, not the number of students.

German has a prominent place in language teaching in the Netherlands, and is coming back into popularity after a period of decline at the end of the 20th century. Approximately 55 to 60% of Dutch people speak German, and there are 386,000 Germans living in the Netherlands. There are at least five universities where German can be studied, with 800 students.

The German language is the Netherlands is still often associated with the Second World War. But mainly because Germany after the fall of the Wall has become increasingly stronger economically, more and more are interested in learning German. Conversely, it is also popular for Germans to study Dutch; there are more students in Munster alone studying Dutch than German students in the Netherlands.

German is required for many students in secondary schools. Thus, at the VWO (pre-university secondary education in the Netherlands) level there is at least two years teaching German. There is also a bilingual (German-Dutch) secondary school in Venlo, near the German border.


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