Brussels, an ever more multicultural city: discover the language at the top among the 104 spoken on its territory

In the Brussels-Capital Region, where more than 180 nationalities coexist, linguistic diversity is a remarkable feature of the cultural landscape. But what languages ​​are spoken by the inhabitants of Brussels?

As a dynamic metropolis, Brussels stands out for its ever-expanding linguistic diversity. According to a VUB study unveiled this Wednesday, 104 different languages ​​were identified among the 2,500 participants surveyed.

French remains the most spoken

Unsurprisingly, French remains the best-known language in Brussels. French is the most used language among the 104 languages ​​spoken in the Brussels region, according to the fifth VUB linguistic barometer unveiled on Wednesday. It is mastered by 81% of the surveyed sample of 1,627 respondents. During the previous barometer, dating from 2018, this percentage was nevertheless 87.1%. “The study shows that the number of languages ​​spoken has increased significantly. In the last survey conducted in 2024, 104 different languages ​​were recorded“, explains researcher Mathis Saeys.

French remains the most spoken language, even if its use has decreased, while the use of English is becoming more and more important (from 34.4% to 46.9%), especially among young people.“, continues Mathis Saeys.

The Dutchman, second on the podium

Dutch (from 16.3% to 22.3%) also occupies a predominant place, in particular thanks to the young generation of Brussels residents and the population who emigrated from Flanders, according to the barometer.

These three main contact languages ​​are followed by Spanish (14.5%), Arabic (11.5%), Italian and German (both 6.1%), Portuguese and Turkish (2.8% each) and, finally, Romanian, a newcomer among the ten most spoken languages ​​in Brussels, with 2.1%.

According to the barometer, linguistic diversity translates into multilingualism among Brussels residents. In fact, more and more of them are fluent in several communication languages ​​such as Dutch, French and English.

Around half of Brussels residents master two contact languages, although at the same time we observe an increase in the number of Brussels residents who do not master any contact language, that is to say who do not master French, Dutch or English (from 7.6% in 2018 to 10.5% in 2024). Only 10% of French speakers who have been educated in Brussels indicate a good or excellent command of Dutch. Conversely, eight out of ten Dutch speakers who studied in Brussels indicate a good or excellent command of French.

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Brussels diversity

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