Meet The Partner: The Square Mile
Leiden is fast becoming an international hub for high-tech and medical research in the Netherlands, meaning it attracts more and more internationals and expats. Stop and listen at the city market on a Saturday and you will hear Dutch, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Hindi and numerous other languages. With such an international community constantly growing, the demand for language courses is greater than ever before. Meet The Square Mile, a new partner for the Expat Centre Leiden.
What does The Square Mile do?
The Square Mile specialises in helping people speak a second, third or even a fourth language for their work. Based in Leiden, we provide language training programmes for international professionals. Our multilingual team of language professionals organises around 700 programmes a year for more than 2000 participants from sectors including Space, Pharmaceutical, ICT and Manufacturing.
Where does the name come from?
The Square Mile is the local name of the financial district in the City of London, where professionals from all over the world work together. We started in 2002 teaching English in the Netherlands and were looking for a unique name to reflect what we do. The name stuck.
Over the years, we’ve branched out to provide business training in Dutch, English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese in Leiden and throughout the Netherlands. We also have some clients in London, Berlin and Paris.
Why is The Square Mile relevant to the international community in Leiden?
Learning Dutch is very important if you want to settle here. It breaks down barriers, helps you to feel at home and sends a message that you want to be part of the community. If you want to stay, then a good command of Dutch is essential for your career mobility.
We offer high-quality Dutch courses for employees working at the Bio Science Park, Space Industry and the LUMC. These courses are a great way to learn Dutch and grow your social and business network, especially if you’ve just arrived in the Netherlands. The groups are small (5-10 participants) and the courses start at 17:00 at BioPartner in the Bio Science Park itself, so you can cycle or walk straight from work to your Dutch lessons. We also offer in-company language training for other clients in and around the city.
What advice do you have for new arrivals in Leiden?
Meet the locals. Clubs are very important in Dutch culture, so if you want to meet people and make friends then joining a football, hockey or running club is a great start. Leiden has a thriving sports culture including a professional basketball club and an internationally-oriented rugby club. If sport is not your thing then join a choir, book club or attend a course at the local Volksuniversiteit. It takes a while for Dutch people to open up to new friends, but it’s worth it. Many neighbourhoods have active residents’ associations who organise events. Make sure you know what’s going on in your neighbourhood for King’s Day (Koningsdag) on 27 April and for Leids Ontzet (Leiden Liberation Day), 2 & 3 October. If you want to see how Leiden parties, put these dates in your diary and don’t leave the city. And finally, if perhaps predictably, get started with learning Dutch. The sooner you start, the easier it is.
For more information on Dutch programmes on the Bio Science Park, visit www.thesquaremile.nl/dutch-in-leiden or contact Richard or Irene on 071.532.3356