Do I have to speak Dutch to become a teacher in the Netherlands?

In short

Depending on the sector in which you want to teach and where you obtained your teaching qualification, you must be able to demonstrate your command of the Dutch language.

Do I have to speak Dutch to become a teacher in the Netherlands?

Are you interested in a teaching job in the Netherlands? And are you not a Dutch native speaker? You will need to consider some language requirements to become eligible to work as a teacher. These requirements can vary, depending on the education sector you want to teach in and whether or not you already have a teaching qualification. In this article, we provide an overview of the language requirements in different situations.

When do I have to show proof of my level of Dutch language proficiency?

In some situations, you will be asked to demonstrate that your Dutch proficiency is at level B2 or C1 of the Common European Framework of References (CEFR). You will need to show proof when:

  1. You want to become a teacher at a primary school (basisschool), and you possess a foreign teaching qualification. Your teaching qualification will first have to be assessed and certified. This is done by education implementation service DUO: Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs.
  2. You don’t have any teaching qualification and would like to obtain your qualification in the Netherlands. In this case, you will have to study at a Dutch university of applied sciences (hogeschool) or research university (universiteit). In order to be admitted, your command of Dutch has to be at least at level B2 or C1 (CEFR), depending on which university you apply to.

When do I have to be able to speak Dutch, but without an obligation to demonstrate my proficiency level?

If you wish to teach at a school in the Netherlands where the language of instruction is Dutch, it is convenient to speak Dutch well enough to communicate clearly with your students and colleagues. In some cases, the school where you want to work can decide if your level of Dutch is sufficient without requiring hard proof of your proficiency level. This is the case if:

  1. You want to become a secondary school (middelbare school) teacher or a teacher in post-secondary vocational education and training (mbo) and have a valid teaching qualification (as determined by DUO).
  2. You have obtained your teaching qualification and/or another diploma in the Netherlands at a higher education level (hogeschool/universiteit) where Dutch was the language of instruction. Because demonstrating B2 or C1 level is often required to be able to enter into a Dutch study program in higher education in the Netherlands, completion of your study program implies that you are proficient in Dutch.

As the school decides whether your Dutch is good enough to be able to teach their students, they can ask you to take a language course if you are not yet proficient enough according to their standards.

For more information about Dutch language state exams, available language courses and practice material, have a look at

When are there no Dutch language requirements I have to consider?

There are also a few teaching and teacher training options in the Netherlands without any Dutch language requirements:

  1. You can become a teacher at an international school. To teach here, you do not have to demonstrate your level of Dutch, but you might be asked to demonstrate that your proficiency of the language of instruction, often English, is at a minimum B2 level.
  2. The University of Applied Sciences Utrecht offers a teacher training program in English. You can study to become a German, English, French or Spanish teacher. As English is the language of instruction, you will need to demonstrate your English level, but you will not be required to be proficient at any level of Dutch in order to enter the program. Keep in mind that if you wish to work at a Dutch (speaking) school afterwards, you will have to be able to speak Dutch.

Teacher training programs ITEPS and ITESS at NHL Stenden are not officially recognised as a teaching qualification according to Dutch education laws. However, graduates from this program generally do find employment at international schools in the Netherlands.


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