Why are Dutch the Best Non-Native English Speakers in the World?



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In the above video, recorded in the Netherlands, I ask Dutch people why they’re the best non-native English speakers in the world. Below I’ve written a concise summary of the answers I got on the topic.

1. Exploring the Roots of Dutch Proficiency in English

The response “Dutch are citizens of the world and not citizens of the Netherlands” was particularly striking. As the Dutch have been historically involved in global trade, it seems that is a significant factor.

Additionally, the assertion that adaptability to languages, particularly English, is embedded in the Dutch DNA, provides a cultural and perhaps historical lens to look through.

It implies an intrinsic inclination towards language assimilation, shaped possibly by historical interactions and necessities.

2. Influence of Media on English Proficiency

Digging further, the responses illuminated the integral role of English media, particularly TV shows and movies, in embedding the language into the daily lives of the Dutch.

It’s fascinating to observe how media, being a potent tool for language exposure, has seamlessly woven English into the auditory and cognitive experiences of the Dutch, aiding in natural language absorption and proficiency from a young age.

The absence of dubbing in the Netherlands allows the Dutch to listen to the original English dialogues, often with Dutch subtitles, enhancing their listening and comprehension skills.

3. Schooling and Its Role in English Language Acquisition

A critical aspect of language acquisition, schooling, could not be overlooked. Questions exploring whether movies or school played a pivotal role in elevating the English proficiency levels among the Dutch brought forth interesting narratives.

The education system in the Netherlands, known for its quality and global perspective, embeds English education effectively, fostering a conducive environment for language learning.

A blend of formal education and informal learning through media provides a balanced and effective approach towards English language acquisition.

4. The Dutch Approach Towards English

It was also interesting to hear about the natural and pragmatic approach of the Dutch towards English.

Their proficiency is not merely a reflection of their historical roots or the influences of media and schooling but also an embodiment of their practical and open-minded approach towards language learning.

The Dutch, being pragmatic, seem to embrace English not as a foreign language but as a necessary skill, a tool for global communication, and perhaps, a bridge connecting them to the world.

This practicality, blended with an efficient education system and pervasive media exposure, crafts a conducive environment where English is learned and utilized not as a second language but as a parallel communicative tool.

5. Reflections on Language and Identity

Navigating through the various responses, it became evident that the Dutch harbor a unique relationship with English.

Their proficiency in English is not seen as a dilution of their Dutch identity but rather as an expansion of their communicative horizons.

The integration of English into their linguistic repertoire seems to be perceived not as a compromise but as an enhancement, enabling them to navigate through global platforms.

P.S. The Dutch having the best non-native English skills is based on the English Proficiency Index study by EF. It’s an international organization which focuses on language and culture exchange.