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Brussels expats prefer language learning at the pub

12:20 03/02/2015

Brussels expats are increasingly inclined to learn or practise a foreign language in the relaxed setting of a pub or coffee shop, rather than a traditional classroom. A conversation with a native speaker in a pub is much more useful than a lesson at school, according to language learners who spoke to

Scott's Bar, near De Brouckere, is one such place where many young Brussels residents gather to combine a night out with drinks and some lively multi-language conversation. They wear flags pinned to their tops that reveal both the language(s) they want to learn and the language(s) they speak fluently.

This kind of language exchange is a growing trend in Brussels and other European cities. The evenings at Scott’s Bar are an initiative of Oliver, a 25-year-old from Brussels who dreams of an elite military career.

"When I lived in London, I often went to nights like this," he said. "Back in Belgium, I wanted to practise my Dutch and Russian, but the few initiatives I found were mainly for older people. So I started my own."

Gunther Van Neste, director of Huis van het Nederlands in Brussels, confirms the trend: "More and more people from Brussels are seeking informal ways to learn languages," he told “We get a lot of people looking for conversation tables, a sports club or volunteer work in Dutch rather than a course.”

The next multi-language meet up at Scott’s Bar is scheduled for 13 February from 19.30.

Written by Robyn Boyle