Belgium (Flemish)

Dirk Janssens
Patrick Durieux
Department of Education, Ministry of the Flemish Community
Jan Van Damme
Kim Bellens
University of Leuven, KU Leuven

Language and Literacy

Belgium is a federated country with three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. The Flemish region of Flanders, a Dutch speaking community with nearly 6.5 million inhabitants, is in the northern part of the country. French and Dutch are the official languages of the region of Brussels, and Wallonia is a French speaking community situated in the southern part of Belgium next to a small German speaking community in the eastern part of the country.

Dutch is the official language and the language of instruction in the Flemish Community, which includes the Dutch speaking schools in the region of Brussels. The Flemish population, however, is becoming more ethnically and culturally diverse, with the percentage of students speaking a home language other than Dutch increasing annually; during the 2015–2016 school year, this included up to 17 percent of the population in primary education.1 The larger cities in Flanders tend to have significant immigrant populations speaking different mother tongues at home. In the classroom, these children are educated in Dutch.