University of Liège
Language and Literacy
Belgium is a federated country with three official languages: French, Dutch, and German. The language of instruction depends on which of the three geographic regions the school is in: the Flemish Region, the Brussels-Capital Region, or Wallonia. Some Belgian municipalities situated along the boundary between two linguistic regions have a special status protecting their linguistic minorities and their right to teach both languages in different schools. In the Brussels‑Capital Region, for example, a child’s language of instruction may be French or Dutch, depending on the choice of the head of the family. The Wallonia‑Brussels Federation, which is the focus of this chapter, uses French as the language of instruction. In addition to the official languages of Belgium, immigrants speak languages including Italian, Arabic, Spanish, and Turkish at home.