Everyone that teaches Dutch has no doubt heard this question. It is logical people wonder. However, depending on what word is stressed in the question, other implicit questions arise: “Why do you study Dutch? (Do you have a good reason for it?) Or: “Why do you study Dutch?” (Why don’t you study a different language?)
People that teach Dutch as a foreign language are often confronted with a similar question: “Why do you teach Dutch?” (Is there really a great deal of interest in your country?)
It comes as a surprise, to both Dutch speaking, as well as non-Dutch speaking countries, that there are people who (want to) study Dutch. This is not the case, to the same extent, for other languages (Spanish, French or Italian, for example).
The Dutch and the Flemish often feel, that it is not really important to speak Dutch outside their countries. The number of Dutch speaking people in Europe is small, most native speakers of Dutch master at least two foreign languages, and nowadays, English is the dominant world language. This would make knowledge of Dutch superfluous.
However, if we look at the number of native speakers in Europe, Dutch certainly belongs to the medium-sized languages. With its 22 million speakers, it comes after Spanish, French and Italian, but before Greek, Czech and Swedish for example.
We could now list a whole series of arguments and examples of why it is worthwhile to study Dutch, but instead, we have learners and teachers do the talking. Watch their motivation in the enclosed film fragments (under construction). If you want to share your own motivation to study Dutch with us, you can fill in the survey.