At Senior School Voorschoten, The British School in The Netherlands, they have been leading discussion sessions and workshops with students and families to share tips on effective study habits and how parents can support their children at home. Here is some of the advice and guidance their community has found beneficial.

“I am going to give you a test.”

Even as an adult, I would guess that that statement made you feel a bit tense. Exams, tests, and quizzes are part of being a student (particularly as students progress in their education). These are some of the ways that students show and put into practice what they have learnt and how we, as teachers, assess how our students are progressing in their understanding of a subject or course. They can also be a source of stress and concern for students and their parents.

One of the most frequent questions parents and caregivers ask is how to support their children with exams. I like to reframe this question to how we can help our children effectively learn to learn. After all, learning new information and retaining it is an essential skill for young people to develop.

Five ways parents can support their child’s learning at homeParents and caregivers can provide support in many different ways, some of which may sound obvious and are more practical. It is also important to remember that part of your child’s education is learning to take ownership of their learning. You are there as a support and to encourage, but ultimately, your child should feel their outcomes are their own.

1. Ask specific questionsMost of us have had the experience of asking our children how their day was and getting one-word answers. Rather than asking, “How was your day?”, try asking your child what subjects they have that day in school at the start of the day. After school, ask specific questions about a few of their lessons. For example, “What was one sentence you had to say in French today?”. Make a note of the sentence, and then in a week, you can ask if they still remember that sentence from French.

Another idea is to ask what questions they had after learning a new concept, and after the next lesson, ask if they were able to get the answers to those questions. Talking about learning in a low-stakes way opens up the dialogue with your child and allows them to practice revisiting and explaining their learning to someone else.

2. Practical supportProvide your child with a space that is conducive to studying. As we all have different preferences for our working areas, it’s great to ask what elements your child would find helpful. It’s important to know what technology is with them (phones are incredibly distracting and hard to resist). Though, as mentioned before, studying can be more impactful when it is done with a friend.

You can also help your child plan their study time, ensuring that they set realistic goals and take time for breaks and socialising. Sharing their study schedule with you (and maybe their friends) creates accountability. There is also evidence that the simple act of sharing a goal or intention with another person makes it more likely that we will meet our goal and stick with our plans.

This may seem obvious, but provide a balanced diet for your child (if possible, limit lots of late-night snacking) and make sure they get enough sleep. It’s best to stop studying an hour or two before bed.

3. Be a revision buddyYou can act as “revision buddies” by quizzing your child using flashcards, blank paper revision (a description of this method is described later in the article) or any other revision resource where the answers are provided. Focus your feedback during these sessions on what they know well, and then you can share ideas and concepts to work on. Keep it fun and low-stakes.

4. Tell me three things…Get into the habit of asking your child to share three things that are going well in their studies, three things that need more work, and three things that they learnt easily. This is quick to do, reminds your child of their progress and helps them prioritise what to focus on going forward.

5. Considered languageSometimes when we are trying to be supportive and helpful, it can sound very different to our children. For example, while well-intentioned, “Have you studied for your exams yet?” may sound like a lack of trust. Instead, remind your child that you love them for who they are, not their exam grades, and avoid comparing them to other children or classmates and focus on their progress (rather than their exam results).

You can also ask your child what support they would find most helpful from you periodically throughout the year. Your role is to listen to their concerns, validate their feelings, and then help them move forward.

Three tips for effective studyBefore sharing study DOs, a quick note about some of the traditional study methods, which you will notice are not listed below. Many of us may remember feverishly recopying class notes, spending time re-reading and highlighting texts and notes, and that studying was done alone in silence.

The research and science about how our brains create connections and how short-term memories become long-term memories have progressed. We now know that the most effective learning strategies are more active. Just as you train and work your muscles before a marathon, studying should be dynamic and challenging to train your brain to recall information and make connections to past learning.

1. The best day to study is EVERY day (or at least most days)This won’t come as a big surprise, but cramming the night before a test is not the most effective way to learn. Reviewing concepts learned in class straight after a lesson and then again before the next lesson helps students retain the information.

Revisiting learning in short bursts regularly should not be time-consuming but will make a difference in a student’s ability to recall the information beyond an exam. This, of course, is the goal: we want to continually build on past learning and deepen our understanding of subjects so that the information can be applied in real-world situations.

2. Retrieval practiceSome of the traditional study methods I mentioned (re-reading, highlighting, etc.) focus on more input / information in the brain; the objective of retrieval practice is just the opposite. In retrieval practice, students recall the information they’ve learnt from memory. The idea is that practising the retrieval of information, especially when the material is revisited after some time has passed, improves how well it is learned.

The blank page method is an easy way to use retrieval practice for studying. Without referencing notes or lesson resources, students write out everything they remember about a specific topic on a piece of paper. Afterwards, using lesson notes and texts, students correct and add any missing information (using a different colour pen or pencil makes it easy to see how much they already know and areas that require more review). 

3. Revise with the intention of teachingResearch shows that when we read or study, intending to teach the information to someone else, we can better pull out the key facts and remember more of what we learn than if we revise solely in preparation for an exam (John Nestojko, Memory and Cognition 2014). This is a great technique to try in study groups. Students can take turns teaching concepts to their classmates and answering each other’s questions.

It’s also a good way for parents to support at home: have your child teach you something they are studying. You can check their knowledge and ask questions to help them practise verbalising and explaining information in their own words.

It’s a journey!Learning something new, whether knowledge or skills, often does not happen in a straight line. Like any journey, ups and downs along the way are to be expected. By developing effective learning habits early on, students may still feel nervous before a test, but there will be less panic, and the benefits will go beyond their exam results. The goal, after all, is for our students and children to build on their learning and skills so that they are in the best position to accomplish whatever personal and academic goals they set for themselves.

Learn more about the invaluable experience The British School in The Netherlands (BSN) provides and how they can support your child to achieve their best and develop into the person they are meant to be, just as they have done for their students since 1931. 

Can you believe we’re almost halfway through 2023? With spring coming to an end and summer right around the corner, here are seven things expats living and working in the Netherlands need to know about this month.

1. Dutch banks raising interest rates (again) 

After years of 0 percent interest rates (or less), it seems as though Dutch banks have finally gotten into the swing of things when it comes to raising interest on their accounts. May saw ING and ABN AMRO both introduce higher interest rates on savings accounts, and now they’re raising their rates once again. 

At ING, from June 1, an interest rate of 1 percent will apply for accounts with up to 10.000 euros. Customers with between 10.000 and 1 million euros will receive 0,9 percent interest from this month.

Similarly, at Rabobank, an interest rate of 1 percent will apply on all accounts worth up to 5 million euros. Finally, at ABN AMRO, customers with up to 1 million euros in their accounts will receive 1 percent interest.

2. Dutch government to bring tax cuts on fuel to an end

The tax cuts on fuel introduced by the Dutch government last year will be coming to an end this summer. The reductions in excise duties are set to expire at the end of June, and the cabinet hasn’t announced an extension. This means that, from July 1, drivers in the Netherlands will have to pay more to refuel their cars.

3. Travelling by train to Germany or Belgium? You’ll have to book a seat! 

At the beginning of May, Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) announced a new system designed to limit crowds on international services over the summer. From June 17 through to August 18, passengers travelling via an ICE International service to Germany will be required to reserve a seat for their journey. 

Similarly, those buying a ticket for an Intercity service to Antwerp or Brussels at the Early Bird rate will have to book their ticket for a specific train, instead of being able to hop on any service. NS says this system “makes train occupancy more predictable and ensures that travellers to and from Brussels remain sufficiently comfortable at all times.”

4. Changes to Dutch energy contracts

Since energy prices rose to staggering highs last year, it’s been impossible for customers to sign fixed multi-year contracts – although all that is changing from June. As of this month, major Dutch energy providers will once again offer customers the chance to sign a fixed contract with a duration of over one year. This means customers will be locked in at a set rate for 12 months or longer, without having to worry about potential changes to the market rate.

The main reason for this is that, from June 1, energy providers are increasing the cancellation fee for fixed contracts. Instead of paying a fixed rate of 100 euros (50 euros to cancel the gas and another 50 euros to cancel the electricity), customers will be required to pay the difference between the rates stated in the energy contract and the prices on the date they want to cancel – although the old rates will continue to apply to contracts signed before June 1. 

5. Acceptgiro payment method to disappear

With more and more people making use of online banking and direct debits to make payments, the Netherlands is finally waving goodbye to the acceptgiro – the yellow cheque found at the bottom of invoices or pay slips that you receive in the post

The number of people who still make use of the system has fallen significantly in recent years, meaning the cost of processing a payment made via acceptgiro is now reportedly no longer worth it. The Belastingdienst has been phasing the system out since 2021, but from June 2023 it’s official: after a whopping 46 years, acceptgiro is disappearing.

6. Final days of record-breaking Vermeer exhibit at Rijksmuseum

The Vermeer exhibition which opened at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam back in February is finally coming to an end. The past several months have seen art lovers from all over the world flock to the Dutch capital to experience the dozens of Johannes Vermeer works on display. 

The exhibit is open until June 4, and the museum has announced it’ll be open until 2am on the final days of the exhibition.

7. Summer to arrive in the Netherlands

You might not know it from looking at the Dutch weather, but summer is officially almost here. According to the astronomical calendar, summer in the Netherlands starts on Wednesday, June 21 (the day of the summer solstice). Although the summer season is almost here, there are no guarantees about the weather – and the summer holidays at Dutch schools don’t start until July.

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31 May 2023, by Victoria Séveno

The Dutch Counter-Terrorism Unit (NCTV) has issued a statement warning that the terrorist threat to the Netherlands has increased over the past six months, and reports that jihadist organisations have explicitly mentioned the Netherlands as a target for potential attacks. 

Dutch terrorist threat level remains 3 out of 5

In the NCTV’s latest Terrorism Threat Assessment Netherlands (DTN 58), the organisation states that the national threat level continues to be set at level three out of five, meaning an attack in the Netherlands is “conceivable” but that there is no concrete evidence to suggest an attack imminent or even highly likely. 

The report explains that, while the threat of attacks from ISIS increased across Europe in 2022, the Netherlands is increasingly mentioned as a legitimate target for attacks, specifically as retaliation for recent incidents which involved the destruction of a Quran.

“Various pro-ISIS channels have called for retaliatory actions against Western countries via social media, including explicitly Sweden and to a lesser extent the Netherlands” the NCTV explains. “Dutch interests abroad in particular run the risk of being hit by an attack.”

NCTV: Risk from right-wing and anti-institutional extremists is limited

While the threat from right-wing extremists has become “more diffuse and unpredictable in recent years”, with only a “minority of right-wing extremists [posing] a violent threat,” the NCTV does point out that there is a group attempting to “propagate right-wing extremist ideas”. The report highlights the racist language that was projected onto the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam at midnight on New Year’s Eve as an example of this.

Finally, the NCTV explains that, while the threat of anti-institutional violence is limited, in the longer term anti-institutional extremism “can undermine the democratic legal order,” with some conspiracy theorists feeding distrust in the government “through the narrative of an evil elite.” This means that anti-institutionalism “primarily poses a threat to the democratic legal order.”

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Measures to reduce emissions

Schiphol is working to reduce emissions from diesel and aircraft engines. The airport does this in constructive consultation with the aviation sector (airline companies, ground handlers and air traffic control), FNV (on behalf of the trade unions), the national government and knowledge institutions. Schiphol is working on a total package of measures to minimize exposure of employees. This is a complex task, because some of the (technological) solutions required for this are not yet available. At Schiphol we are working on: Measures on the platform to remove the source of emissions, such as the recently implemented rules to taxi with fewer engines and the tightening of rules for using the auxiliary engine.

Measures to increase the distance between the source of emissions and employees, such as adjusting departure procedures and offering face masks.

Experimental research on air cleaning on the platform and improve air quality. View

The Dutch Labor Inspectorate today published a draft decree with proposed requirements on emissions from kerosene engines and the improvement of working conditions at Schiphol. Schiphol, other parties in the aviation sector and interested parties are asked to submit their views on this, after which the Labor Inspectorate will take a decision. Schiphol will study the draft decision and submit an opinion.

Although the prices have dropped over the last months, you’ll see that, in the cities, the housing market in the Netherlands is still a competitive market. Especially for well-maintained mid-priced, affordable apartments and houses. So, how do you get started in this market? The key is to be well prepared, so you can beat the competition. Here are some useful tips from Mie-Lan Kok Estate Agency:

1. Find a mortgage advisorTo be eligible for a mortgage, you first need an income in the Netherlands and a citizen service number (BSN). You could go online and use a mortgage calculator to find out what your maximum mortgage will be, but there is much to consider when it comes to your budget. A good place to start is with a visit to your bank, but it’s even better to make an appointment with an independent mortgage advisor. It might cost a bit more, but they can save you money by finding a better mortgage solution as banks just present you with their own loan products.

The documents that you will need to have to get a mortgage in the Netherlands are: a recent salary slip, a contract of employment, an overview of your savings / loans and, if applicable, a confirmation letter of the 30% ruling.

2. Determine your budgetWhen it comes to an annuities mortgage (annuïteitenhypotheek) and a linear mortgage (lineaire hypotheek), you can decide on your monthly costs. Most of the time, an annuities mortgage has lower monthly payments than a linear one. Now that you know your maximum mortgage capacity and your monthly payments, you can determine your spending budget.

Think carefully about the budget. You may think your monthly costs are too high with the maximum amount that you can borrow, or perhaps you have some extra savings that you’d like to invest to increase your budget. Plus, you will also need to keep in mind that you need money for the closing costs.

3. Save for the purchasing costsIf you buy a home, you will have additional costs that you need to pay for – the so-called closing costs. These costs include the transfer tax, the notary fees, the valuation costs, the cost for the technical survey, the interpreter, the mortgage application fee and the fee of the buying estate agent. The transfer tax is normally two percent of the purchase price. The notarial fees are for the deed of transfer, and if necessary, the mortgage deed. If you don’t speak the Dutch language well enough, an interpreter is mandatory. All together you can expect between 5-7% closing costs

4. Make your wish listNow that you are aware of the financial consequences and you’ve decided on your budget, you can start dreaming of your new house. In what part of town do you prefer to live? Do you want a newer or an older one, full of character? Are you willing to do some renovation, or does it need to be ready to move in? How many bedrooms would you like to have? Would you prefer an outside space? What features are important? What are the must-haves and what are the nice-to-haves? With this list, you can discuss what is doable within your budget with your estate agent, so that you manage your expectations.

5. Find a real estate agentIn principle, you don’t need a real estate to buy a home in the Netherlands. However, you might benefit from hiring one. Agents can save you a lot of time in the search process of finding the right property.

Real estate agents have knowledge about the Dutch housing market, the right areas and will know if a certain property is a good investment. They can prevent you from making costly mistakes by getting hold of important and complex paperwork and information. Plus, they have access to the database of the properties that have been sold. That way they can determine the best buying price and handle the negotiations on behalf of you as an independent person.

Looking for a new home in the Netherlands? Mie-Lan Kok is an estate agency based out of Amsterdam. If you want help with finding the right home for your situation, contact them at [email protected] or at +31 235 475 941.

30 May 2023, by Victoria Séveno

Research conducted by the Dutch Consumers’ Association (Consumentenbond) has found that the prices of several basic food items have risen by an average of 15 percent over the past six months. 

The Netherlands sees food prices rise by 15 percent

The Consumers’ Association assessed the prices of over 100 foods, including rice, coffee, milk and potatoes, across 14 supermarket chains in the Netherlands. Overall, the study found that prices of basic groceries have risen by an average of 15 percent since December 2022. 

In spite of this sharp and undeniable increase, researchers say the worst of the price hikes are behind us. While Dutch supermarkets reportedly “increased the price of an average of 150 products per day” in December and January, since February fewer increases have been implemented, with the prices of some products even falling since the winter.

Plus the priciest supermarket, Dirk the cheapest

While the research focused on the prices of budget brands stocked by various supermarkets, the study found that the highest prices could be found at Plus, where products are 20 percent more expensive than average. Once again, Dirk was found to be the most affordable supermarket, with prices 11 lower than the national average.

Some of the most significant increases were seen in the prices of sugar (+78 percent) and cauliflower (+54 percent). The cost of bread has also seen notable increases, with figures showing that the price of six brown rolls has risen by 43 percent. 

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Are you an expat living and working in the Netherlands? Have you ever worked at a Dutch company or with several Dutch colleagues? Having already described some of her experiences as an American working for a Dutch company, here are some examples of mistakes Kate Aemisegger from UvA Talen has made with her Dutch colleagues when trying to speak their native language!

Going to Albert Heijn to get a broodjeAs we all know, Dutch lunches aren’t the most creative in the world. Some of you (like me) might find Dutch lunches rather simple and not very stimulating for the taste buds… Or perhaps you think it’s lekker – to each their own! No matter what you like for lunch, I’m here to help you avoid any humbling encounters when you try out your new Dutch vocabulary on your colleagues.

If you often work around Dutch people, I’m sure you will have heard the word broodje by now – probably around lunchtime. At first, I assumed that it was a term for what we’d call a sandwich in English, as I’d noticed my colleagues eating ham and cheese sandwiches, tuna sandwiches, and the classic Dutch (untoasted) cheese-on-bread sandwiches. But I was mistaken, guys… it could never be that simple! I learned the hard way that picking up a broodje at Albert Heijn can imply different things, depending on the context.

In Dutch, the term broodje mostly means a little piece of bread (from the bakery, for example). If you want to buy a pre-made sandwich, you usually have to specify the type of sandwich you mean, or else confusion can arise, followed by an embarrassing encounter with a group of colleagues who decide to choose NOW to comment on your American-ness. And no… I’m not still bitter about it!!

Anyway, here are some examples to help you avoid this mistake and properly identify your sandwich in Dutch:

Broodje = a piece of bread from the bakery OR a sandwich, depending on the context Broodje kaas = a piece of bread with cheese slices inside (in other words, a very boring sandwich…) Broodje tonijn = a tuna sandwich Broodje gezond = a sandwich often filled with ham, cheese and egg Broodje tomaat en mozzarella = maybe this one is a bit more self-explanatory, but just in case you aren’t yet sure – this is a sandwich with tomato and mozzarella. The moment I accidentally labelled myself a workaholicIf you’ve reached the B and C levels of learning Dutch, you may have already come across the filler words used in Dutch sentences. These include words such as maar, toch, wel, nou, and the one I’ll be focusing on here: even.

In a recent interview I conducted with a Dutch teacher about her experience teaching Dutch to internationals, she explained the purpose of these filler words as being “used in Dutch to make something less direct and more friendly, although there are different ways of using them.”

Well, having a Dutch partner and working for a Dutch company brought me into contact with these filler words quite early on in my move to the Netherlands. I realised very quickly that they are used in everyday sentences and do in fact make you sound more like a local when using them. Maybe it would’ve been a better idea to actually learn what they meant in context before using them so confidently… oops!

One time when I was leaving the office at the end of the workday, I turned to my colleagues and said, Ik ga even naar huis! Although this sentence is grammatically correct, the context in which I’d used even was incorrect. In Dutch, the term even actually means “real quick”, or, “for a minute” (depending on the context), and it implies that the action won’t take long at all. So, what I really said was, “I am going home for a bit!”

To be honest, I thought it was just a filler word, used to lighten the content of my sentence… and the reaction from my colleagues – “Huh?”- said it all. “Why are you coming back to the office tonight?”, they asked. I could feel my face turning red, not knowing exactly where I’d gone wrong. It was only a week later, in my own Dutch course, that I learned what I had actually said.

Although this example is specific to one small word, to avoid being left red-faced, make sure you know how one little word in a sentence can completely change the meaning in Dutch!

Last but definitely not leastI wish I could tell you that it gets simpler than the examples above, but the following language error may in fact be the hardest of my habits to shake when trying to speak Dutch. It comes down to just two words: WORD ORDER! Yep, not only does one simple word, like, even, nou, or maar, change the meaning of a sentence, but word order also has a huge impact on what you’re saying. Double trouble!

During a one-on-one lunch with a colleague, I confronted the realisation that word order might get me in trouble someday… During this predominantly Dutch-speaking lunch, my colleague was explaining a fun story to me, but I didn’t fully understand some of the vocabulary she was using. I wanted to tell her that I didn’t quite get what she was saying, so I uttered with a confused facial expression, Ik snap het helemaal niet.

Like before, the grammar here is technically correct, but the word order I’d chosen brought my colleague’s fun story to a much harsher end than I’d intended! In this context, what I said to my colleague can be translated as, “I don’t understand that at all.” In other words, I implied that I didn’t get the content of her story, and therefore added a note of disagreement to the conversation.

The problem here is that I put the word helemaal in the wrong place in the sentence. What I should’ve said was, Ik snap het niet helemaal. In this context, this would translate back to her as, “I don’t quite understand.” That sounds MUCH nicer, don’t you think? Luckily, my colleague is very patient and was able to explain the difference between the two.

I hope this experience might help you be extra careful when wading confidently into the Dutch workplace, and also help you to avoid making the same mistakes!

Kate Aemisegger works and studies Dutch at UvA Talen, one of the biggest language schools in Amsterdam. They offer language courses from beginner to advanced levels. Want to improve your Dutch further, just like Kate? UvA Talen offers group courses, specialised courses and e-learning programmes if you want to concentrate on a specific aspect of the language.

29 May 2023, by Victoria Séveno

A family gathering quickly went from fun to frightening when the hosts discovered a two-metre-long snake curled up in their barbecue!

Dutch family shocked to find 2-metre snake hiding in barbecue

We all know the feeling: the sun comes out, the temperature rises, and you think it’s the perfect chance to make the most of the Dutch weather by inviting friends or family around to enjoy a barbecue at your house. For one household, however, this wholesome plan quickly took a turn for the worst when they discovered a two-metre-long snake hiding in their barbecue.

Last weekend, the Animal Ambulance Service responded to a call in Zeddam – a small village located around a 30-minute drive to the east of Arnhem – where a grey rat snake was hiding inside a barbecue. Luckily the species is non-venomous and was safely removed by professionals and taken to a local shelter. 

Non-venomous grey rat snakes not native to the Netherlands

Emergency services were fairly confused by the find, as grey rat snakes aren’t native to the Netherlands. The exotic animal is likely somebody’s pet, but NOS reports it isn’t clear who the animal belongs to.

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29 May 2023, by Victoria Séveno

German long-distance rail operator FlixTrain has submitted a request to ProRail and the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) to launch a new service between Germany and the Netherlands in 2024. 

New FlixTrain service between Oberhausen and Rotterdam

Operating out of Munich, the past several years have seen FlixTrain expand its services to include cities across Europe, including destinations in Switzerland, Sweden and Czechia. Now, the company is (finally) turning its attention to the Netherlands.

As Treinreiziger reports, FlixTrain has applied to operate an international rail service connecting Oberhausen in North Rhine-Westphalia with the Netherlands. The route would likely travel via a number of German cities before stopping in Arnhem, Utrecht, Amsterdam, The Hague and ultimately Rotterdam.

Budget rail provider expanding network to the Netherlands

While FlixTrain hopes to launch its first Dutch rail connection at the end of 2024, the operator’s sister company, FlixBus, has been active in the Netherlands since 2014, with services running via stations in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Delft, The Hague, Rotterdam, Breda, Tilburg, Eindhoven, Nijmegen, Arnhem and Groningen.

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28 May 2023, by Victoria Séveno

It’s official, the charge for sharing a Netflix account has finally arrived in the Netherlands. As of this week, anyone who wishes to share their Netflix password with friends or family will have to pay an additional 4 euros a month on top of their standard subscription. 

Sharing Dutch Netflix accounts now costs 4 euros a month

This week, Netflix customers in the Netherlands who share their account with someone outside their household (i.e. someone living at a different address) received an email letting them know they’ll now face an additional charge for password sharing. 

“Your Netflix account is for you and the people you live with – your household,” the email read. Customers who would like to continue to share their account with others are given two options: they can either transfer a profile (and all the profile data and watch history) to a new membership, or they can “buy an extra member” for an additional 3,99 euros a month. 

Netflix clamping down on cross-household account sharing

Earlier this year, the American streaming service – which has offices across the globe, including in Amsterdam – reported that 100 million of its 220 million subscribers share their account with someone outside of their household, leading to Netflix missing out on at least half a billion euros in extra turnover every month. In order to discourage this, the company announced earlier this year that it would be announcing a new charge for those wishing to share passwords. 

Netflix will use user IP addresses, account activity and device IDs in order to monitor account usage. If an account is regularly accessed from a different location, the user will be notified that it is not part of the Netflix household and viewing will be blocked.

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