What Languages do People Speak in Belgium?

Belgium is home to three official languages and nearly a dozen regional dialects plus a handful of other languages spoken by immigrants and descendants. The official languages spoken by most people in Belgium are Dutch, German, and French.

How Many Languages Are Spoken in Belgium? 


Belgium has a high rate of bilingual residents and many even speak a third language. The three official languages and their dialects are spoken by most people in addition to English and about eight other immigrant groups.

Official Languages of Belgium

Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, German, and French.

About 55% of people speak Dutch as their mother tongue and 16% speak it as a second language. French is spoken by about 36% of people as a mother tongue and half of Belgians as a second language. German is mostly spoken as a second language by about one-quarter of Belgians.

The standard Dutch spoken in Belgium is nearly the same as Dutch spoken in the Netherlands but it's usually colloquially called "Flemish" or "Belgian-Dutch" by academics.

There are regional dialects of all three official languages in Belgium: -- Dutch dialects: East Flemish, West Flemish, Brabantian, and Low Dietsch. -- French dialects: Walloon, Champenois, Lorrain, and Picard. -- German dialects: Ripuarian and Moselle Franconian

Variants of these languages are also spoken in Belgium. Limburgish has characteristics of Dutch and German and it's spoken by 1.3 million people in Belgium and the Netherlands. Luxembourgish is a variety of the Moselle Franconian German dialect mostly spoken in Luxembourg, a neighboring nation of Belgium.

The French Community recognizes the dialects of French spoken in Belgium as separate languages or "regional native languages." Flemish, a group of dialects, are considered varieties of Dutch, not a separate language, despite the common misconception.

Dutch is the official language of the Flemish Region of Belgium and the Brussels-Capital Region, along with French. French is the official language of French Community and dominant in the Wallonia area and Brussels-Capital Region.

Other Languages of Belgium

There are many other languages spoken in Belgium aside from official languages and their many dialects and varieties.

Yiddish is spoken by around 20,000 Ashkenazi Jews in Antwerp which is one of the only Jewish communities in the world with Yiddish as a dominant language. Other immigrant languages spoken in Belgium include: -- Rifian Berber -- Maghrebi Arabic -- Spanish -- Turkish -- Italian -- Portuguese -- Polish -- Greek -- English (spoken by about 55% of Belgians)