Languages of Netherlands


The word Netherland means “low land” in Dutch. Other than Dutch, there are other languages of Netherlands still active. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands; if you want to pay a visit there or you are interested in knowing the languages that are on offer in the kingdom, then you are at the right place because you are going to get all the details that you needed on all the languages spoken in the Netherlands here.

Though with your knowledge of English, you will be able to have your way in this country; knowledge of their native languages of Netherlands will add spice to your visit in the country.

Education System

Dutch is the official language of instruction in schools throughout the Netherlands. It has an effective education system that boasts of about 99% literacy rate showing proof of an effective language of instruction. The figure quoted above is within the ages of 15 years and above; people who can read and write.

Let us go now go into the details of the languages of Netherlands that you will find spoken today:

Netherlands Language map

Dutch – The Official Language

The Official Language that is spoken in the Netherlands is Dutch. This language under reference belongs to the West Germanic branch of the Proto-Germanic language family tree. There are about 27 million people that speak this language as a native language or as a second language.

Standard Dutch is used as national as well as the official language in the Netherlands. About 96% of the population has adopted this official language their mother tongue.

The Official Regional Languages

Let us take a look at the regional languages of Netherlands that are officially recognized. 

Frisian Language

This is a West Germanic language that is spoken by about 453,000 people. The majority of the speakers can be found in the Friesland province. This dialect serves as the co-official language in the province. 


If you are in the BES Islands of the Netherlands, the official language spoken there is English. The Amsterdam Municipality recognizes English as the official language. The majority of the schools in the region use English as their primary means of instructing their students. In the country’s capital Amsterdam, English can be used as a mode of communication but most of the publications as well as the administrative work are done in Dutch.

Read also: Languages of United Kingdom

Dutch Sign Language

This is yet another language that is present in the Netherlands. It is a thriving sign language in the country that got official recognition in 2020, next to Dutch and Frisian.

Papiamento Language

Another officially recognized regional language in the Netherlands is Papiamento. This language is a combination of the Portuguese and African languages. This language is the official language in the Bonaire Municipality in the Netherlands. When you get to the Netherlands, you will get to see the speakers of this dialect in some Caribbean Islands.

Non-Official Regional Languages

We shall now take a look at some other Regional languages of Netherlands that are not officially recognized. The list includes the following:

Dutch Low Saxon Language

The speakers of this dialect can be seen in the northeastern Netherlands. This is a compilation of Low Saxon dialects; sadly today, this dialect is on the list that is classified as venerable by UNESCO. The number of speakers of this language is taking a gradual decline. As at this moment; there are about 1,798, 000 speakers of this dialect.

Limburgish Language

This language has a large number of dialects and each of the dialects differs from each other with some significant variances. This language is spoken by about 825,000 speakers that can be found in the Limburg province of the country. 

The Immigrant Languages of Netherlands

There are many immigrants in the Netherlands and they come to the party with their various languages and cultures. This is responsible for the numerous other immigrant languages that are today part of the language culture of the Netherlands. The following immigrant languages are spoken in the Netherlands:

  • Moroccan Arabic
  • Sranan
  • Arabic
  • Turkish
  • Berber languages
  • Indonesian (read also: Languages of Indonesia)
  • Caribbean Hindustani
  • Sranan Tongo
  • Tarifit 

Mainland Dialects And Minority Languages

We can talk of mainland dialects and minority languages in Netherland. They can be divided into the main subgroups of West Frisian, Low Saxon, and Low Franconian. The Low Franconian is the most common of the three and can be found spoken in urban centers like Amsterdam. The majority under this group is not officially recognized and there is a steady decline in the use of these languages.

However, efforts are been made by the government at the center to protect these minority languages from going into total extinction. Most of the regions operate a bilingual agenda to give room for the minority languages to thrive alongside Dutch.

The Influence Of Foreign Languages

Given the globalization and its impact on languages, there are quite a several foreign languages that are spoken in the Netherlands. The majority of the population of the Netherlands (90%-93%) speaks the English language. We have nearly 71% of the people that speak German. French has about 29% of speakers. If you understand the Spanish language, we have about 5% of the people that speak Spanish. There is that degree of plurality in the speakers of foreign languages in the Netherlands.

Conclusion: Languages of Netherlands

We have just highlighted the language culture in Netherland. When you get to the country, you are going to see these languages in full swing in the Netherlands. It is a country of diverse languages as well as culture.

Frequently Asked Questions