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Representing Flowently at Expat Family Market, tutors and international families shared their experiences. The visitors are all expat-families looking for reinforcement to feel more comfortable and confident with the Dutch language in social interactions in the Netherlands. While their children were decorating our unique hand dolls – that only speak Dutch – the parents were being informed about the customized language sessions Flowently offers.


‘Our youngest student is one year old!’ I reply to a family, curious from which age Flowently tutors can teach Dutch. The development of language begins in the very first year of life, through distinguishing and recognizing sounds, imitating and interaction with others. So why not begin with a second language at the age of one? In Rotterdam this is happening at the home of a one year old Chinese boy, where the tutor comes three times a week to play and sing and do all the daily activities accompanied by commentary in Dutch. Everything is communication, playing, eating a biscuit and even changing a diaper! Our young student will effortlessly adapt to Dutch language and Dutch friends, once he will join kindergarten or school.


At the Expat Market many families showed interest in the unique language support Flowently offers. How do families manage with the Dutch language, what is their experience? First communication with the Dutch is easy, as most of them do speak English well and are willing to communicate in English. But once the family is settling down and trying to be part of the community and wants to speak Dutch, this fact makes it a lot harder to learn the language.Flowently therefor offers sessions for parents; you can learn practical Dutch, specific vocabulary and phrases relevant for you as a parent. Besides, your tutor can inform you about local hotspots, do’s and don’ts, and you can learn social conversational  Dutch using real life situations.


A situation a mother at the Expat Market shared with us; her daughter, picking up on Dutch words at school, wants  to practice her newly obtained language at home, leaving mom and daughter frustrated, as mom doesn’t understand a word her daughter is saying to her. As a consequence, creating distance in their relationship. For this family, the mother taking sessions herself could be a great solution. One-to-one with a private tutor, she can learn useful Dutch vocabulary and phrases, at a convenient time when the kids are at school. Step by step the Dutch language will be integrated in the family, and each member will profit. It’s a Dutch bargain!

By Flowently tutor Nathalie Ezendam Keller

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Many years ago I was living in Amsterdam and was about to end a long telephone conversation with one of my best friends who I hadn’t seen in 6 months. We had talked for at least 45 minutes and I had my agenda on my lap, ready to pick a date have dinner together.


I had recently returned from a 5-months stay in Colombia, the country where I was born and always  wanted to visit again. Although I had moved back to the Netherlands at the age of 7 years, going back to Colombia felt in a way to me like being home again. So much in fact that – inevitably – I fell in love with a Colombian girl and seriously considered to stay in Colombia.


There were many things in Colombia that I preferred over my own, Dutch culture. For example the hospitality of the people and the spontaneity to visit friends and starting a party. Life felt much more relaxed and it seemed time was always abundant. But in the end my girlfriend and I decided to go back to Amsterdam and see how our relationship would develop.


While my girlfriend was sitting on the couch in our apartment watching television, I agreed with my friend – agenda in my hand – to see each and have dinner in two weeks. As I hung up, my girlfriend turned her head to me and asked who I had been talking to for so long. I answered this was one of my best friends whom I hadn’t seen for a long while. She asked me what the thing with the agenda was. I told her that we had set a date to have dinner together and catch up, two weeks from now. Rising one eyebrow, my girlfriend remarked: “I thought you just said he is one of your best friends”. “He is!”, I replied. “So why doesn’t he come over now?”, she asked, and continued to watch television shaking her head in disbelieve.


There I sat, with my agenda in my hand, wondering what had happened. How could I, who felt typically un-Dutch in many ways, have adapted so quickly again to the typical Dutch way of meeting with friends? Of course my girlfriend was right, that if he was a best friend he should have come over the same evening to hang out and catch up. Why wait for two entire weeks before seeing each other?


This was many years ago, and my girlfriend and I have been together ever since. ‘Intercultural relationships’ bring their fair share of challenges, I must admit, but they also offer a different perspective on many things one would take for granted otherwise. And, even after 25 years, I am still grateful for that!

Written by Maarten Stal, Cross Cultural Trainer

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As a language institute, Flowently offers the opportunity to connect people, to feel at home in the Netherlands through language proficiency, even when they are not yet installed in their new home. At any age, the transition to a new country, new culture and new language can be exciting, but especially for children.
My first Flowently student was a boy of five; he had just arrived in the Netherlands and lived temporarily in the short stay apartment hotel De Wittenberg in Amsterdam. Here they are very helpful and hospitable, making you feel at home easily. However, that home feeling quickly disappeared when entering the Dutch primary school. In spite of his great language skills, making contact was difficult and the previous school and friends became an increasing loss.


As Flowenty looks at the language question per student with a personal approach, it was obvious that for this student the keyfactor was that he could feel more comfortable through language. There was also contact with his teacher from school, who had passed on points of interest and themes, to create an umbrella team and theme to prevent a spate of new things. In this case the emphasis in terms of language demand was:
“How do I make contact with my Dutch peers?”


Given the age and energy, the approach was far from schoolastic, but more interactive. Soccer appears to be a good friend to discover and master a language. Or sticking around post-its on all possible utensils in the lobby. Sticking stickers, colorful running, water assignments, blowing up balloons, building towers, making paintings. In addition to the sporty and creative approach, we have been on the street a lot; how does it work with crossing, counting and describing vehicles, posting an old-fashioned letter, buying an ice cream and for the first time a ride on the back of a bicycle. In this way he mastered daily words and sentences.


On sunny days the lesson also moved a few times to the playground in the Oosterpark, where interaction with other Dutch children could be used directly in practice. This made it easy to catch up on where confusion can occur and how he could playfully cope with it. By playing and being literally active with the language, his self-confidence visibly grew.
Also school became a friend with all new possible playmates to play with and to grow further in the Dutch language and his sense of being at home.

Written by Geertje Hampe-Nijland

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Why hiring for cultural fit doesn't have to undermine diversity


Although most managers would agree that it is important to hire people who fit in, the idea of hiring for
culture fit has become controversial (1). Our work suggests it need not be. Most of the controversy
boils down to a single key issue: the wrong definition of culture fit. The confusion over what culture fit
is has given rise to a number of common misconceptions. Clearing these up can help managers
improve their talent strategies.

Culture fit is ‘nice to have’ but not a necessity

The core assumption here is that employees’ skills and competences matter more for organizational
effectiveness than how well they fit in. While we’re not disputing the importance of having a highly
skilled workforce, a large body of scientific evidence has shown that culture fit—which we and others
(2) define as how well one’s values adhere to the values of the organization or team — matters
significantly for how people act and behave at work. Meta-analyses (3) have found that people whose
values are more aligned to those of their organization are more committed to the organization, more
satisfied with their job, and less inclined to leave.

Studies (4) show that value fit also relates to actual
job choice decisions, in the sense that people with higher value fit stay longer and perform better than
people whose values fit less. So if leaders want to have an engaged and motivated workforce — as
well as the ability to attract and retain the skilled employees they want — culture fit is essential. It is
not a luxury; it is as important to overall organizational functioning as hiring for other qualities.

Hiring for culture fit hurts diversity

The idea here is that hiring for culture fit undermines efforts to increase workplace diversity, because it
leads to hiring managers essentially trying to clone their current workforce. Although, at first blush, this
assertion seems to make sense, a simultaneous pursuit of culture fit and diversity is possible. An
assessment of culture fit should focus on how well the person’s values align with the organization’s,
rather than how well their personal characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, age, and sexual
orientation, align with the current workforce.

Research (5) shows that adopting this stricter definition of
culture fit can reap its benefits while still bringing in diverse perspectives, experiences, and skills; it
also finds that higher value fit is associated with higher retention for people who, because of being
demographically different, are typically more at risk for low retention. Pursuing culture fit and diversity
together can buffer some of the challenges (6) that come with managing a more diverse workforce.
When done right, hiring for culture fit might enrich rather than undermine diversity in your organization.

Hiring for culture fit hurts innovation

This misconception relies on the idea that, if everyone is the same, it reduces creative thinking and
therefore innovation. If people think differently, that boosts innovation. But again, people can think
differently while still maintaining the organization’s overall values. A study (7) of 346 members of 75
health care teams found that, when members perceived higher value fit to their team, team leaders
rated the team as being more innovative.

Importantly, the effect of value fit on innovation was due to
team members identifying more strongly with the team, which led them to be more accepting of the
diverse ideas and approaches of the other team members. Innovation often Innovation often involves
conflict and difficult processes (8) ; value similarly can help keep everyone aligned. This suggests that,
when done correctly, hiring based on fit may enhance team identification and therefore benefit rather
than hurt innovation.

Hiring for culture fit is an art, not science

This one is a common misunderstanding that, in our experience working with companies, is the main
reason why hiring for culture fit is sometimes frowned upon. First, trying to assess value fit using
intuition and “gut feelings” is a bad idea. When people try to assess the candidate’s values based on
gut feeling, this assessment can easily get confounded by other things, like their personality or
background. Research (9) has demonstrated that recruiters’ perceptions of culture fit in an interview
often reflect a “similar-to-me” effect rather than being indicative of the actual fit with the organization’s
culture. They tend to mistake alignment between themselves and the candidate
for alignment between the candidate and the organization.

You can’t determine culture fit without a proper measurement. This consists of three steps: First, you
need to measure the actual values of the organization or team. This is done by measuring the values
of each employee in the organization or team using a standardized value instrument. Second,
because the goal is to compare the candidate’s values to those of the organization or team, the value
assessment of the candidate should be done using the same standardized instrument. Third, you want
to objectively compare the candidate’s value profile with that of the overall organization or team. Using
algorithms can help minimize bias at this step.

You want to see that the candidate’s values align with those important to the organization, but you
also want to see that the organization’s values align with those that are important to the candidate. For
example, an organization that greatly values hard work might consider hiring a candidate who values it similarly,
but this candidate might not be a great culture fit if they greatly value fairness whereas the organization doesn’t.
Hiring for cultural fit is something of a “holy grail” in that it is highly valued but often avoided. We have
heard many leaders tell us “I’d love to hire employees who fit into our culture, but I don’t know how to
do it” or “Yes, it would be great to pick employees who embrace our values, but it’s fraught with all
sorts of pitfalls.” But this wariness largely comes from a few key misconceptions.

By addressing these, we believe that hiring on culture fit is something organizations can and should do.
With the proper definition and objective tools, managers can ensure they’re hiring people who can align on the team’s
and organization’s values, and do much to enhance their levels of engagement, satisfaction, and retention.

Joeri Hofmans is Associate Professor of Work and Organizational Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit
Brussel, Belgium. His research focuses on the role of personality, leadership, and motivation at work.
In addition to his academic career, Joeri is co-founder of Twegos, an HR tech company specialized in
the prediction of Person-Organization fit.

Timothy A. Judge is the Senior Associate Dean for Programs and Outreach, the Joseph Alutto Chair in
Leadership Effectiveness,  and Executive Director of the Fisher Leadership Initiative, Fisher College of
Business, The Ohio State University. His research interests include personality, leadership, job
attitudes, and career success. Together with Joeri Hofmans, Tim is in command of the R&D of
Twegos, an HR tech company specialized in the prediction of Person-Organization fit.


Written by Joeri Hofmans and Timothy A. Judge

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expat parents bike


Let’s assume you’ve arrived in the Netherlands with your family. Now everyone feels happy and
overwhelmed by all new impressions! Living in a new house, town, a new language and culture,
a new job and for the kids a new school with new teachers and friends. Perhaps your child has
some difficulty connecting with classmates at the new school and Dutch language seems to be
an obstacle. No worries about that, you’ve solved it very well with a Flowently tutor coming to
your home for weekly Dutch language sessions, learning by playing for the small one. For your
oldest there is a customized learning program as well including online learning. At your work
and in the street, everyone seems to speak English, so far, so good.


No need to learn this difficult language, right? Well, there is! Why is it recommended to learn
Dutch yourself as well? When learning Dutch with your child simultaneously you will be able to
support your child’s learning process. Learning Dutch and practice it in simple daily life
situations will become a natural habit within the family and this will stimulate the learning
process of your child enormously. Parents have a major impact on their child’s cognitive
development, language and social skills. This also applies to learning a new language. Kids are
like sponges with feelers, they absorb what you tell them, including your unspoken emotions.


Feelings of insecurity you might have of your own, about interactions in a shop, on the phone, in
contact with your child’s teacher or parents at school, unconsciously influences your child.
Feeling confident and relaxed in the process of learning Dutch and integrating in your new
environment yourself, will boost your child’s confidence. Being able to support your child in
confusing ‘lost in translation’ situations, will make your child’s ‘feeling home in the new country
process’ more natural and easy.


While you are having fun learning Dutch with the guidance of your private Flowently tutor, when
and where at your convenience, you are making hay while the sun shines. Now you can
practice Dutch in a playful way with your child, and your mutual learning process has started.
Kids see their parent as their idols, just imagine what an impact you can have! Learning Dutch is
not only about learning the language but the key to a successful landing in your new country,
and lots of fun together!

Written by Nathalie Ezendam Keller

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The Dutch are one of a kind. They are highly educated and most of them speak English. Expats love this fact. What expats don’t realize is that this prevents expats from really integrating in Dutch society. Moreover, ever noticed a group of Dutch people, first talking in English and when they talk about trivial things or when the words become more complicated to translate, they switch to Dutch, leaving the foreigner in the dark.


Not only is it convenient to know some basic level of Dutch, there are some cultural differences that expats need to be aware of. In some cultures it takes a long time to build a relationship of trust before doing business. The Dutch however are more goal oriented and want to close a deal as soon as possible. Furthermore, the Dutch society is very egalitarian. It is normal that the CEO pours in his own coffee and talks with the cleaning lady. Moreover, in the army although you have several ranks, equal treatment finds it way in the culture too. The Dutch are very direct, in comparison with the English people where you have to read in between the lines to get the message. The English like to make understatements to make a point, while the Dutch just say what they think.


In some countries coming late is part of the culture, while in the Netherlands agendas are holy. Being on time is very important. It is normal to go on a bike to your work, while in comparison in some countries bikes are only for children or for the economically less well off. Many countries lack the right infrastructure for bikes, however the Netherlands thought everything through, even the public transport operates pretty efficiently. During rush hour long lines of traffic congests on the highway, somehow the smart Dutch didn’t find a solution to that problem.


The Dutch also tend to separate their work life from their private lives. Making it harder for expats to integrate into Dutch society. For an expat learning some basic Dutch and understanding some cultural differences, can be paramount to having a great time in the Netherlands. Through it is possible to practice your Dutch for free. Moreover, every expat should read ‘The UnDutchables’, a witty book about the Dutch customs and mentality. If you really want to integrate in the Dutch language and culture you can start with Flowently’s ‘Feel at Home session’. Your private tutor can help you with improving your Dutch language skills and assist you with getting used to the Dutch culture, while having a coffee in a café or walking around in your new town.


By Jeroen Spangenberg