Belgium! Home of world-class ale, decadent chocolate, soaring Gothic-style cathedrals, and some of the best language programs in Europe? All true! For a unique educational experience learning a new language, look no further than the quaint, cobblestoned streets of Belgium. Whether you’re learning Dutch in a private homestay or immersing yourself in French with fellow students, you will leave your language program in Belgium with vastly improved language skills, a new love for one of the less-traveled countries in Europe, and (if you’re not careful) a few extra pounds thanks to the famous bier and chocola!
If you have trouble picking out Belgium on a map, don’t worry; you’re not alone. This compact country is nestled between Germany, France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Belgium’s square mileage is just slightly bigger than the state of Maryland, which makes it the perfect size to dive in and get to know the ins and outs of the country during your language learning!
Brussels is the most well-known city in Belgium and the nation’s capital. Consequently, it is home to over one million people and contains a thriving international student population. Brussels offers just about everything you would expect from a big city; from hip cafés, like the centrally-located Aksum Coffee House, to unique museums, like the Belgian Comic Strip Center and the Musical Instruments Museum, you’ll be able to practice your language skills by ordering food, reading interesting museum plaques, and asking locals for directions to the must-see attractions throughout the city!
La Louviere. For a small village feel, La Louviere may be the city for you. With a population of 80,000, this waterfront city makes a cozy alternative to bustling Brussels, and it is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site to boot. Be sure to check out the impressive industrial achievements of the historic boat lifts in the Canal du Centre; you can hop aboard a meandering boat trip through the kanaal when you’re taking a break from studying verb tenses!
Spa. You can even forgo cities entirely and stay in Spa, home of the Hautes Fagnes, or High Fen, the largest nature reserve in Belgium! One of the most unique language courses in Belgium allows you to actually live in the High Fens nature reserve and become fluent in the language of your choice while surrounded by rich, peaty bogs, and biodiverse plateaus.
Wherever you choose to hang your hat during your language courses in Belgium, you will no doubt have the time of your life while learning a new language in one of the most immersive ways possible (aka. living in a foreign country).
Language Programs in Belgium
With choices ranging from one-on-one intensive tutoring to homestays with Belgian families to living the city life with fellow students, there language courses in Belgium to suit every learning style! Looking to brush up on the romance language you took in high school? Excited about learning a dialect you have no previous experience with? Or are you hoping to improve your English skills in an exciting new environment?
With options for learning French, German, Dutch (or Flemish, which is the regional variety of Dutch spoken in northern Belgium), and English at any skill level, you’ll become conversational in no time. The majority of Belgians speak either Dutch or French as their first language, and English is widely spoken as a second language. While this makes it easy to get around, students are encouraged to practice the local languages as much as possible in daily conversations to get the most out of their language courses in Belgium.
Some language programs in Belgium offers students the chance to live with their very own private language instructor and his or her family. This opportunity gives language learners invaluable insight into true Belgian customs and cultures, and will help you build lasting friendships in a safe and supportive home away from home.
You can also choose to attend immersion language schools in Brussels, which over up to 20 hours a week of classes or a more relaxed evening class schedule of six hours a week. It’s up to the students to determine how intense their language courses in Belgium will be, but either way, you’ll be placed in small classes with other students at your same skill level to ensure the best learning environment.
You know your most productive learning strategies better than anyone, so be sure to take into account whether you’re someone who needs lots of individual attention or if you thrive more in group settings when choosing a language school in Belgium! Contrary to what your parents may be telling you, how you spend your free time during your linguistic endeavors is just as important as your academics. If your language learning would be more enriched being surrounded by peaceful nature or getting to taste your way through the delicacies of Brussels, make sure you take that into consideration when choosing a language program in Belgium.
Scholarships & Costs
While living in Europe may sound like it’s out of your price range, the cost of living in Brussels is actually very affordable. A one-bedroom apartment in downtown Brussels may be as expensive as you’d expect, but you could also split a three-bedroom apartment with other students for less than $500 a month. Giving up a little privacy could definitely be worth saving some cash and making some built-in new friends to explore the country with you!
An average meal out in Brussels costs between $10 to $15, but finding markets and cooking some of your own meals will help save your spending money for more exciting trips. You could really impress your family back home by telling them you have been cooking your own waterzooi for dinner; they don’t have to know how simple this traditional Belgian stew is to make.
Depending on which language school in Belgium you choose, accommodation, transportation, and even food could be included in your program fees. If you’re concerned about costs though, be sure to check out great sources of funding, like scholarships, for your language studies.
Accommodation & Visas
There are a wide variety of accommodation styles you can choose from to make your linguistic experience unique in Belgium. Homestays offer the opportunity to really immerse yourself in a new language, often giving you the chance to live with a private tutor and their family. This option is great for someone looking for a more intimate, home-like environment. You could also choose to live in a 4-star hotel with fellow students where you will have the added bonus of built-in neighbors who share the same interests and passions as you! What better way to make lifelong friends than to bond over a shared experience as awesome as learning a language in the beautiful countryside of Belgium?
If you are a United States citizen, you won’t need a visa to attend a language school in Belgium, as long as your stay is less than 90 days. Citizens of other European countries don’t need visas either. However, be sure to communicate with your specific language school in Belgium or host company and avoid doing any visa processing last minute to make your transition smoother! It’s also a good idea to check out GoAbroad's Embassy Directory of consulates and embassies in Belgium, so you can be familiar with where to go if you have questions or concerns during your time in-country.
Benefits & Challenges
Learning a new language from a teacher that doesn’t speak English as their first language can be a challenge! Ultimately, it will lead to you having a better grasp and more honed skills in French, Dutch, or the language of your choice. While accents or cultural differences may be tricky to get used to at first, you can rest assured knowing that your instructors are experienced professionals who have dedicated their lives to teaching international students.
The benefits of participating in a language program anywhere are undeniable. The best way to learn a new language is to surround yourself with it, and you’ll be able to do that easily whether you are touring around cities like Brussels and Antwerp or interacting with your host family in the Flemish countryside. Depending on your timing and budget, Belgium’s close proximity to neighboring countries like France, Germany, and the Netherlands means you could easily hop across the border to practice your language skills with a different audience at the end of your program!
Between the renowned cuisine and the unique culture that many European travelers don’t get to experience, you will find no better backdrop for your language studies than Belgium, and you’ll most likely find yourself already fantasizing about a return trip to the land of waffles and chocolate!