15 reasons why you should learn French while in Brussels
15 reasons to learn French while being relocated in Brussels – even if you stay for a short time!
Brussels is so international that you don’t need to learn or speak French. This is because you can easily survive in Brussels, and in Belgium generally, without speaking a single word of French. Brussels is also a cosmopolitan city. As a cosmopolitan city, it probably provides you with the opportunity to either practice any language or choose not to practice them at all. It’s up to you! If you are reading this article, you’ve probably just arrived in Brussels or about to come and you’re still contemplating whether to take a French course or not. Do you wonder if learning French would make the difference or would worth the effort and the investment? Those are legitimate questions to ask.
I can strongly assure you that learning French as a second language in Brussels, even a little bit or for a short period of time, will make your stay smooth and unforgettable. You should keep in mind that you don’t need to be fluent, bilingual or have a translation diploma to make your stay easier and get along well in Brussels.
Let me convince you that learning French in Brussels is a good idea with 15 reasons:
1. Speaking only one language is boring.
Being connected with international people in Brussels will quickly show you that speaking only one language is boring and very unattractive. This is in line with the submission of the European Language Council that internationalisation shows that speaking only English is not enough anymore.
2. The city is a relaxing environment to implement a routine in an activity such as French classes.
Even though Brussels is the official capital of Belgium and a lot of things are going on in it, you’ll never feel under pressure or stressed as you can be in London, Paris or New York. You’ll enjoy a high quality of life.
3. Belgians are not as demanding regarding what should constitute the knowledge of grammar and spelling of French.
They even wanted to remove the « accord with the auxiliaire avoir », a very boring grammar rule, from the language because even native speakers are struggling with it. For example:
- J’ai acheté des fleurs. Acheté doesn’t change because it’s conjugated with avoir.
- Les fleurs que j’ai achetées. Achetées is feminine and plural because it refers to fleurs.Even native speakers of French make mistakes with this rule. Please, don’t cry. It’s gonna to be okay.
4. Learning French in Brussels will improve your administrative journey while dealing with Belgian authorities.
There isn’t a single country where the administration is smooth or straightforward. Belgium is no exception. I lived in Spain, the US and France, and I can certify without doubt that the champion is France.
5. It will make your daily life easy.
You’ll be independent: there is nothing worse than relying on people for certain projects or personal aspects such as seeing a doctor, dealing with delivery issues (very common) – internet provider, cleaning lady, babysitter, hairdresser, etc. You’ll also be able to explain your food intolerance/taste, understand what happens with the metro, ask your Uber driver to make multiple stops, how to send birthday gift back home, get a refund of a broken item, deal with the delivery man who never came – even if he said he did and so on.
6. It’s an added value in your CV.
If you work in an international environment where French isn’t required, but do you know what the future will bring to you? What if one day, you decide to use this extra line on your CV to get the job of your life? What you’ve learned in Belgium can be used somewhere else. Where French is the official language of 32 countries of the world, I’m pretty convinced you’ll find another opportunity personally or professionally to make your French skills an added value.
7. It can help you in your working environment.
Working in an English-speaking environment probably won’t save you from interacting with native speakers of French or francophones. It happens that in some working environment, nobody speaks French at all but this is not common in all working places in Brussels. If you have a doubt, I highly recommend you to try to learn a few small talks sentences if you like to meet and interact with people in front of the coffee machine.
8. Understand local media and news.
Even if some information about Brussels and Belgium are available in English, expats oriented magazines and news providers tend to publish only few percentage of what is really going on in the country with a foreigner’s perspective. Being aware of what’s going on like a local is the new black.
9. It can help you networking like a ninja.
Speaking more than one language, so French in this case, will give you the chance to shine in a given society. More seriously, mentioning that you speak or are learning French can be an extra topic to break the ice while networking. You can discuss the challenges you are facing, explaining why learning and speaking French is great and ask others about their own experience and background with the French language. In other words, the French language will save you from silent and awkward lonely moment.
10. If you are single, speaking French will open you doors to an entire new community.
It can certainly help you improve your dating journey in Brussels. Speaking French or an extra language can double in a partner in crime role to finally meet someone. Maybe your soul mate is francophone, who knows! One of my students started a few years ago to learn French. He is working in an English-speaking environment and hangs out mostly with expats. After a few unproductive dates, he finally met a French girl in his working environment. He was so happy for all the efforts he made so far in learning French. Today, he enjoys communicating with her family and they are getting married next year. Will you be the next one?
Credit photo: Brussels is Yours
11. You can improve your integration.
Even if you don’t have or want Belgian friends, you won’t be freaking out to interact with them when needed. Even for a short period of time in Brussels, I bet you’ll meet more Belgians than you think.
12. 85% of the population speaks French in Brussels (and a quarter of them don’t have French as a mother language.
This stat enhances the status of French as one of the three official languages in Belgium. While almost all native Flemish speakers in Brussels are (at least) bilingual, francophones in Brussels don’t often speak Dutch well – a shame, I know. French is also the only official language of the country and it is spoken in every single continent of the world. According to statistics, there are over 300 million francophones in the world in 2018. If you are interested to know more about the position of the French language in the world, you can watch this video made by the Organisation of the Francophonie.
13. The French is the biggest foreigner community in Brussels after Italians; and yes, the French are absolutely everywhere!
14. Learning French or any other language is good for your brain and your personal development.
An article of the newspaper Telegraph stated the following: « Longitudinal studies by Harvard University confirm that learning additional languages increases critical thinking skills, creativity and flexibility of the mind. » The European Language Council follows the same direction by mentioning that learning and speaking another language improves analytical and summarizing skills. It creates transferable skills like abstract thinking by decomposing insight into patterns and structures. Learning another language will also make you more empathic and patient, and will improve your memory and your concentration. In addition, it will teach you a lot about yourself.
15. Belgians are friendlier than Parisians to practice French with:
Francophones in Belgium are used to interacting with people who are neither native nor fluent speakers of French, and they are more patient with them. Nobody in Belgium will give you a weird look if they don’t understand you or if you speak “little French”. On the contrary, they will encourage you to continue.
Credit pictures: Brussels is yours
I hope the 15 reasons for learning French in Brussels discussed above will convince you to learn French, even for a short period of time. Again, keep in mind that you don’t need to be fluent, bilingual or an official translator to be able to improve your French skills and get along well with locals. You don’t have to attend an intensive course for months either. Get yourself a proper private French class once a week for 3 months and you will see the difference.
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