Who speaks Dutch?
Dutch is the official language in the Netherlands and one of the three official languages of Belgium, spoken in the Flanders state which borders the Netherlands. Some 20 million people speak Dutch natively.
Dutch is also spoken in the Antilles (Carribean) and Suriname (South America) which have historical ties to the Netherlands. Afrikaans, spoken in South Africa, is so closely related to Dutch that the languages are mutually intelligible.
A “small” language?
Go West from the Netherlands / Belgium and you bump into the UK. Drive South and you will enter French territory. Go far enough East and you are on German speaking ground. All very major languages. So thus considered the Dutch language is only spoken by a small group of people.
But by many other counts, it still is a language that counts. Well regarded films come out in Dutch every year. And about 1% of the pages on the Internet is in Dutch, making in the 11th language on the Internet.
Why would you learn it?
Because of being ‘surrounded’ by major languages, Dutch native speakers can generally make themselves understood in English, and often in either German or French too. So what are the most common motivations for learning Dutch in Singapore?
Immigration requirements play a major role. If you are non-European and want to follow a Dutch partner to live in the Netherlands, you’ll have to show proficiency in the Dutch language.
Cultural interest is perhaps a more motivating reason to learn the language. Being able to speak with Dutch speakers on their own terms does make it a lot easier to get to know them and while on the surface you may seem to have smooth trip with English alone, speaking Dutch will make a trip to the Netherlands / Belgium all the more rewarding. That said, this reason probably only comes into play if you’re going to live in Dutch speaking territory for a few months at least, e.g. on a work assignment or study abroad.