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Dutch Studies at Columbia University, Dept. of Germanic Languages

Dutch Studies at Columbia University

By Wijnie De Groot - 02/15/11
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Columbia University is one of the few universities in the United States to offer Dutch-language courses. Although students cannot major in Dutch at Columbia, they can take credited Dutch courses at 3 levels: elementary, intermediate and advanced Dutch. The spring semester also offers a course in 17th-century Dutch. Although open to any student with a good knowledge of modern Dutch, the latter course is mainly designed for PhD students in history or art history, who need to do archival research in the Netherlands or Belgium.

Students take Dutch for different reasons. There is a foreign language requirement at Columbia, which means that every Columbia College student must study 4 semesters of any foreign language. Some of the students enrolled in Dutch take it to fulfill their language requirement, and they want to take a language that is a little more ‘unusual’ than Spanish or French. Others have been to the Netherlands or Belgium, loved it and want to know more about the language. There are always ‘heritage’ students, whose parents or grandparents come from Belgium or the Netherlands. And there are those who study Dutch because they need it as a tool towards further studies, such as art history.

Students who take Dutch are usually enrolled at either Columbia University or Barnard College, but the program is also open to students from other institutions that do not offer Dutch in their course program, such as New York University or CUNY. But you don’t have to be a traditional student to study Dutch at Columbia. The courses are available to anybody through the University’s Continuing Education Department.

Once a month, the Dutch program hosts koffieuurtje. Usually held on Tuesdays, this ‘coffee hour’ is open to any speaker of Dutch, beginning or more advanced, who wants to practice his or her Dutch in an informal setting.

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