A Belgian Eye – Episode 126

Our resident Belgian, Philippe Persoons, takes a look at life through a Belgian Eye.

How important is speaking the correct language in Belgium? Which language IS the correct language in Belgium? Let’s take a look . . . . . .

Hello and welcome on a Belgian Eye

We Belgians, we are the best in foreign languages. We need to learn it, if not the other part of the country might not understand us. And there’s more. When we go abroad we need to speak something else for no one speaks our language.

At least that’s my impression, but of course this is the Flemish guy speaking and yes, you won’t travel far with only some Dutch in your mouth, but hey, that’s only in my part of the country. My fellow citizens in the other part of the country they talk different: French the language of diplomacy, at least in the past. Anyhow, you can still travel much further with some ‘France language’.

And that’s what it’s all about. Be able to speak, to express your feelings, your thoughts, be able to participate in a discussion and that’s exactly what you should keep in mind when reading the latest Eurostad figures that were published this week.

Headlines in some papers: Language courses in primary education in Belgium fail to keep up with the rest of Europe. Our country is almost at the bottom of the list, with only Portugal scoring worse. But the figures where only about “foreign language learning at primary level”. It didn’t say anything about the knowledge. And that is where we do better.

Yes, we do!
Two reasons. In the French part of the country, in Wallonia, you are pushed to learn a foreign language from the first year of primary school. Choices are mostly English or Dutch.

In Flanders it normally starts from third degree of primary school, which is quite late-, and there the focus is on French, for it’s the other Belgian language. Learning English at school is possible in later years.

So far for the Eurostad figures.

The truth however, is that the north of the country lives in an Anglo-Saxon culture which we embrace. Most songs on the radio, as well Belgian as foreign, are English spoken. Most movies are English spoken with Dutch subtitles, which is, in my opinion, some of the best ways to learn a language. A lot of Belgians hear English daily which makes me believe that results on the field must be much better than the Eurostad figures suggest. We might be at the bottom of the table but we do probably the best job when we travel abroad or when we receive guests.

This is now, this is how it was in my school period and this is how it will probably be for future generations.
Don’t fear the figures, just talk to the Belgians,

And have a nice day.