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Ecolo wants Dutch or German to be required second languages

20:16 13/02/2020

French-speaking green party Ecolo would like to see Dutch or German become required for pupils in Wallonia. In Brussels, Dutch is required in French-speaking education from the third year, but Ecolo would like to see it start earlier.

“Anchoring the three national languages in all schools is necessary for the unity and future of Belgium,” said Brussels MP Kalvin Soiresse Njall. He emphasises Dutch as a crucial language for pupils to learn.

“Learning the country’s majority language should be no more than normal,” he said. “Moreover, learning a second language makes it easier to build bridges between communities.”

He and fellow Ecolo politicians suggest that German could be a priority as a second language in regions of Wallonia that border Belgium’s German-speaking community. They would like to see a plan rolled out by the academic year 2022-23.

Wallonian education minister Caroline Désir is supportive of the idea. “We would need to open up a broad public debate before we enter into any kind of talks on how to implement such a plan,” she said. “But we could indeed start a debate this year.”

Written by Lisa Bradshaw

Comments

Anon3

Dutch is the majority language? It's the language of those calling the shots, for sure. It's hard to think of French or German as minority languages, if one looks beyond Belgian borders.

Feb 13, 2020 20:50
motherandchild

For the French kids to have equal opportunities as Dutch kids (who knows quite good French), they need to learn Dutch.

Feb 13, 2020 21:04
CM

In terms of jobs, it's really advantageous for kids to have Dutch - the language of the powerhouse of Belgium - as a working language. Nobody's mentioning English here, either, but that's a no-brainer too.

Feb 13, 2020 21:11
shirley.foxcastle

Yes - why no mention of English, which is popular? Important for getting jobs, even after Brexit. German is not very useful except in the German cantons.

Feb 14, 2020 13:34
Frank Lee

As a former foreign language teacher myself, I must say students should make this decision themselves. I taught French in an international school in Florida, where in Kindergarten we gave a semester of French and a semester of Spanish to the kids, and at the beginning of First Grade they (actually their parents, but I strongly encouraged them to listen to their children) chose which language to learn for the next 5 years.
If you're not convinced, think about it this way: would you be more motivated learning to play a sport you enjoyed or a sport chosen for you?

Feb 14, 2020 15:13