Taalunie - Union for the Dutch Language

The Taalunie develops and promotes policy on Dutch in the Netherlands, Flanders and Suriname, and champions the Dutch language around the world. As we form a large and diverse international network, our experts can connect parties in a whole range of different areas. We work together to make Dutch a stronger and more dynamic language, and to ensure that as many people as possible are able to use Dutch to full effect.
Suriname is an associate member of the Taalunie. We also cooperate closely with Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. This means that all countries where Dutch is an official language are actively involved in work of the Taalunie.

The Taalunie: for everyone who uses the Dutch language

A wealth of organisations are committed to Dutch and the many opportunities it offers: in society, in business, in education at home and abroad, and in the cultural sector. The Taalunie combines the strengths of these organisations and provides them with support on behalf of government bodies.

The Taalunie’s five focus areas


1.    Standard language

The Taalunie ensures that Standard Dutch can be described and used as effectively and efficiently as possible (grammar, spelling, terminology). We also provide language advice, collaborate with research institutes and social partners to develop technological aids, and encourage the use of clear Dutch that is easy to understand. By doing so, we make Dutch more accessible to everyone.

2.    Dutch, language varieties and other languages

Dutch comes in many forms and varieties, and is one of many languages spoken in our language area. The Taalunie develops policies that reflect this reality and respond to developments and needs throughout society.

3.    Education within the language area

The Taalunie supports all forms of education in which Dutch is taught as a first or a second language within our language area. We contribute to the quality of education, helping policy-makers and the education sector by offering advice and expert opinion, and identifying issues as they arise.

4.    Education outside the language area

The Taalunie stimulates, supports and promotes quality teaching of the Dutch language, in the Dutch language. We do this across the educational spectrum and at all levels, in an advisory role and by providing substantive and financial support. We foster initiatives for collaboration and the exchange of essential resources, most notably knowledge and materials.

5.    Language and culture

The Taalunie promotes cultural cooperation in Dutch between the Netherlands, Flanders, Suriname and the rest of the world. We facilitate the digitisation of Dutch-language literature, and stimulate an international translation policy and the exchange of international translation expertise. This strengthens Dutch and Dutch-speaking culture in Europe and the rest of the world.

The Dutch language in the world

Dutch is an official language in the Netherlands, Belgium, Suriname and also in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. About 24 million people speak Dutch as a mother tongue.

The Netherlands is virtually 100% Dutch-speaking. In 1980 the cooperation between the Netherlands and Flanders in the field of the Dutch language policy was confirmed by founding the Nederlandse Taalunie - or the Dutch Language Union.

Belgium is a multilingual country, with Dutch being spoken in the northern region (Flanders), French in the south (Wallonia) and a small German-speaking area in the east. Brussels, the capital, is officially both French and Dutch-speaking. Flanders is one of the two founding partners of the Nederlandse Taalunie.

In Suriname, South America, Dutch is the sole official language and more than 60 percent of the population speak it as a mother tongue. Suriname gained its independence from the Netherlands in 1975 and has been an associate member of the Nederlandse Taalunie since 2004. The lingua franca of Suriname is Sranan Tongo.

Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, all islands in the Caribbean, are independent countries that belong to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are 'special municipalities' of the Netherlands. Dutch is one of the official languages. It is the mother tongue of only a small group of the population. The lingua franca of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao is Papiamento, a creole language. The population of the three northern Antilles, Sint Maarten, Saba, and Sint Eustatius, is predominantly English-speaking.

Tuition of Dutch Worldwide

You can study Dutch in e.g. Kiev and Beijing. Dutch is offered as a major subject or minor subject at 135 universities in 40 countries. Here you can find what the Dutch Language Union is doing to support the tuition of Dutch Worldwide.