Dutch are very good at making sure you understand them. First they all speak perfect English. And then, even on road signs, they can get fairly imaginative to make sure that even if you don't speak the language there is no possibility for misunderstanding.
That is if you speak English....
The Dutch are excellent at speaking English, especially in Amsterdam.
You can often hear conversations in pubs and restaurants in English and many shop signs and adverts have been translated too.
Never ever be shy of asking someone on the streets; direction or help for anything else in english! The habitants find it normal to be spoken to in english since their language is so poorly known. What's more never will you be helped by nicer people! People would run after you (or your car) if they realise they gived you a wrong information!!
Amsterdam is a very cosmopolitan city, in some ways pretty much anything goes. Be prepared for culture shock. However, I found dutch people to be warm and friendly. Most speak excellent English ! As always, a few words of the native language never go a miss. Dag is hello , totziens is goodbye, see you later, dank u ( u guessed ) ja= yes, nee= no. Hoeveel cost = how much ? waar is = where i s ? Finally, bicycles are a way of life here, may seem a little strange at first, don't get run over lol !
Learn a few words, not a lot, before you travel.
Good words to learn are,
alstubleift = please;
dank u wel = thank you very much;
proost = cheers
tot ziens = goodbye
mijn naam is ..... = my name is .....
mag ik heb twee pilsje alstubleift = may I have two beers (lager) please
and the all important dank u = thank you when your order arrives.
A few words spoken pleases many people, albeit they will more often than not want to speak to you in English but don't be put off.
As a group, the Dutch are probably some of Europe's great multi-linguists. The kind folks at the TI office could probably give directions in about a million languages (and in the same sentence, no less). It's sure a humbling experience for those of us who can only speak one or two languages. One of my Dutch pals who lives in The Netherlands speaks English so well that he actually has the same American Midwestern accent that I do. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that he lived in Chicago.
English speaking people with little or no knowledge of other languages will love it here. Yes, everybody does speak English. Even if you try to be polite and speak Dutch, they will speak English to you. No language problems here.
Ha- if you don't know how to speak Dutch, don't do it! Otherwise someone will start going off thinking you understand and you will be completely lost. LOL. Everyone speaks English- so it's easy to ask shopkeepers and tram & bus drivers for directions. (Don't ask anyone on the street, they are probably tourists too!) We tipped in the restaurants anywhere from 5-20% depending on the attention extended us. And although tipping is supposed to not be a big deal there, I feel that anyone who is serving you deserves a 'personal' monetary thank you.
It's amazing how well the Dutch people speak English and German and how they can quickly switch from one language to the other. English speaking people will never have a communication problem here!
Everyone speaks excellent English here -- can get around easily of your mastery of another language is nil.