Speaking English is considered “important” to “very important” by 96 percent of youngsters between 16 and 18 years of age. That is the most striking figure in of a series of results from a recent survey carried out by HEC Consulting Group in the Brussels metropolis among 453 young people. Significant for the international dimension of Brussels is the fact that no less than 24 different languages or dialects were mentioned as a mother tongue. Youngsters are acutely aware of the importance of learning another language, the English language in particular.
The fact that knowledge of the English language is considered so important does not necessarily mean that one actually speaks English. Indeed, when having a closer look at the results of the survey, it appears that 27.5% of the people questioned did not understand when being spoken to in English. 34.1 understand English (entirely or partially), but have difficulty in expressing themselves. The remaining 38.4 % speak English “well” or “very well”.
According to non-profit organisation Brussels Metropolitan this is the correct approach: as an international centre, Brussels can only be multilingual, with a combination of French, Dutch (Flemish) and German (the three national languages) and English as well. The latter is certainly not the most spoken language in the world, but is arguably the most frequently used business language. Moreover, inside the European Union English is the language spoken or understood by most people, when mother tongue and first “second language” are both taken into account.
About Brussels Metropolitan
“Business Route 2018 for Metropolitan Brussels”, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to contribute to the economic development of the Brussels metropolis.
vbo-feb.be (Federation of Enterprises in Belgium)