The use of English in Brussels is rising significantly, according to the latest Taalbarometer survey conducted by Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Nearly half of the city's residents are now fluent in

English. Additionally, Dutch usage is increasing in the capital, while the proportion of French speakers continues to fall.

The fifth edition of the VUB study reveals that English is increasingly solidifying its status as the second most common contact language in Brussels, with 46.9% of respondents reporting proficiency in English.

Sven Gatz, Brussels' Minister for Multilingualism, suggests that these findings support the case for making English an official administrative language in the region. "Politicians should see this as a sign that English should be officially used at the administrative level," Gatz told The Brussels Times.

Dutch Reverses Its Decline

Dutch has seen a resurgence, with its usage rising from 16.3% in 2018 to 22.3% in 2023. However, this is still lower than the 33.3% reported in 2001 and the 28.3% in 2007. Despite this, French remains the predominant language in the region, used by 81% of respondents. However, French usage has decreased by over 6% compared to 2018.

The top three languages of contact in Brussels are followed by Spanish (22.3%), Arabic (11.5%), Italian (6.1%), German (6.1%), Portuguese and Turkish (both 2.8%), and Romanian, which is rapidly growing, at 2.1%.

Another significant finding is that about half of Brussels' population now speaks two contact languages. Simultaneously, there has been an increase in the number of residents who do not speak French, Dutch, or English. Photo by Rei-artur and Kjoonlee, Wikimedia commons.