Languages in Belgium

Leuven Travel Blog

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Yesterday I had my first conversation completely in Dutch. Okay, it was just asking for a return train-ticket to Brussels, but she understood, replied in Flemish and I was able to respond. Europeans won't be impressed (56% of EU citizens speak at least two languages fluently, 28% three languages and 10% four languages), but Australia does not have a multilingual education system. Baby steps...

Keeping in theme, I thought I would make a quick post on the languages of Belgium.

There are three official languages, Flemish, French and German. Flanders recognises four dialects of Flemish, Brabantian, Limburgish, East Flemish and West Flemish. Belgian French is a dialect of French, but standard French is very common in Brussels. Among native speakers Flemish is the most common, however including both native and non-native speakers French is the most common. German is a clear third in each case.

Flemish - 6.23 million native speakers (plus ~800,000 Walloons who speak Dutch as a second language)
French - 4.19 million native speakers (plus ~4 million Flemings who speak French as a second language)
German - 73,000 (plus ~ 1 million Belgians who speak German as a second language)

In addition, Walloon (~600,000 speakers), Picard, Gaumais, Champenois and German Frankish have all been given official recognition as regional languages. There is also a strong Yiddish-speaking population (~20,000) in Antwerp. Brussels is much more mixed, with 56% of the 1 million Brussels residents not born in Belgium, creating large populations of Arabic, Spanish, Turkish, Portuguese and Italian speakers.

Finally there is English. Very few native speakers, but there are ~7 million Belgians who speak it as a second language. For Belgians under 25, English is nearly as common as Flemish or French. For Belgians under 15, English is actually more common than either Flemish or French, as both Flanders and Walloon shift towards teaching English as the second language.
bernard69 says:
thx for yr help:)))))))))
Posted on: May 26, 2009
Adrian_Liston says:
Well there are eight countries with >90% multi-lingual, which makes France look bad by comparison if that helps ;) Also, oddly enough France is one of the few countries in the EU to cite as the main reason for not learning more languages "no motivation" rather than "lack of time" or "too expensive".
Posted on: May 26, 2009
bernard69 says:
I was wrong again!thanks for the info:)
Posted on: May 26, 2009
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