Samenspraak (Or: Meetup in Den Haag Bibliotheek)

Yesterday I decided to try something new.  A few months ago I had heard about Samen Spraak (speaking together), which is sponsored by Gilde Den Haag. The first Wednesday of every month they have Samenspraak Café in The Hague’s centraal library. You can go there and speak with other people in Dutch – both with native Dutch speakers and with foreigners who are learning the language.

In addition, you have an intake meeting where they ask what your interests are. Based on that they pair you up with someone who can help you learn the language (and you both learn about each other’s culture). They suggest that you meet weekly but understand if that doesn’t work out. The two speakers need to schedule when they will meet. It’s a volunteer effort but requires some subsidy to keep it running – everyone pays 25 euros.

When I went there last night I lucked out because the same woman who had told me about it a few months ago was the person who spied me standing there looking a bit lost. Although you can arrive anytime between 5:30 – 7:30PM, it was already pretty crowded by 5:45 when I arrived. There weren’t many chairs left to be found, but she sat me next to a lovely gentleman who has been living in the Netherlands for almost 15 years. After a few minutes more people arrived and the table was full.

There was also a few ladies from Russia, a native Dutch speaker who works in parliament as a stenographer, and a gentleman who spoke mostly Arabic and was also keen to learn English. As I had moved pretty recently, my Dutch speaking skills were still pretty rusty. Everyone was patient though, and the woman I mentioned before also slipped in a few English words here and there when she realized I couldn’t exactly follow the subject of the conversation. I ended up staying for the full two hours, although I definitely had a slight headache after that due to the amount of concentration needed to listen to the Dutch. But I did pretty well!

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Categories: Learning Dutch | Tags: , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Samenspraak (Or: Meetup in Den Haag Bibliotheek)

  1. Marco

    Awesome. I was smiling when I got your text “This is fun, I’ll stay” and also very proud.

    I fully expect we’ll be able to gossip about everything and everyone in Dutch by the time we visit your family later this year. 🙂

  2. Sherry

    Gossiping in Dutch will be fine with me as long as we get to see you both. 🙂

  3. Marco

    We did a simultaneous ” awwwwwww” because that’s so sweet 🙂

  4. Candy

    Thank you for posting this, I am American and will be in the Nederlands soon and I need to learn the language. I’ll be in the southern part, but hopefully I can participate in this, I am in dire need of finding a correct place to start with learning the language. I was so happy to find your blog, it has been a great resource attempting to get things setup, so thank you for taking your time to do this. If you have nay helpful advice, I would love to hear it!

    • Cool! It depends on how large of a city you are in, but there are a few Gilde Den Haag’s who run SamenSpraak (national website), although the website isn’t clear about which cities run SamenSpraak specifically. It’s not the easiest website to understand, so it might be better to contact your local guild directly.

      I also recommend getting a library card as soon as possible (you’ll need proof of address so it will take some time) and raiding the kids book section. And watching kid’s tv. Also see if your city has a VVV office (national website); those are the tourist offices which have information about the city (and possibly language classes).

    • Sorry for the late reply. I seem to have missed this comment. 🙂 I am not sure about specifics for learning the language but SamenSpraak is always helpful if you have one nearby. Otherwise I can say that I liked my classes at ROC Mondriaan a lot. They we’re subsided by The Hague’s government, although there are restrictions on who can take them. They are also in other cities but mostly in the surrounding area.

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