Dutch gains popularity as a second language in Brussels
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    Dutch gains popularity as a second language in Brussels

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    Dutch-language lessons are increasingly popular among young and Francophone residents of Brussels, with the former making up more than half of enrolled students in 2019.

    Out of the roughly 18,000 people who requested information about lessons to Brussels’ Huis van het Nederlands last year, over 10,000 actually registered for a course with the school.

    Francophones figured prominently among Dutch language students, making up over a quarter (29.6%) of students, while over a third of enrolled students (35.2%) were of Belgian nationality.

    Annabel Tavernier, a Flemish MP with the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, said the numbers showed that Dutch was gaining traction “as well as importance and respect” in Brussels.

    A significant majority (75%) of the 10,022 students who enrolled in the language lessons in 2019 were younger than 40, and more than half (60%) were unemployed at the time of registration.

    “This is due, in part, to the growing awareness that a good knowledge of Dutch offers better job opportunities,” Tavernier said in an online statement.

    Despite the popularity, success rates to the language examinations remain “problematically” low, with slightly more than half (52.8%) of students passing a module.

    With 10% of Dutch-language students also pursuing another form of education or freelance work, the school’s interim director, Maarten Mommaerts, told Bruzz that personal-life events were often behind a student’s failure to complete a module.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times