The Dutch Language House celebrated its 20th anniversary!


24/11/2023 – The Dutch Language House Brussels celebrated its 20th anniversary on 23 November 2023. 800 professional partners and students attended the day, together with the College of the Flemish Community Commission and the minister responsible. 

The doors of the Dutch Language House Brussels at Philippe de Champagnestraat 23 opened at 9.30 am. 300 students attended the open day, where they had fun practising their Dutch language skills. Those attending were able to take part in a variety of activities, including Capoeira, handicrafts, Jenga, watching movies and a Dutch Language House Brussels work-out. 

The day started in the presence of the Rutten Cabinet (Flemish Minister of Living Together) and Flemish Minister in charge of Brussels, Benjamin Dalle. The educational counsellors who screen and orient clients on a daily basis were honoured. 

Flemish Minister for Living Together, Gwendolyn Rutten: Dutch is the stepping stone to education or work. Especially in Brussels, Dutch stands for more equal opportunities. The people of Brussels know this all too well. No fewer than two hundred thousand Brussels residents have found their way to the House of Dutch over the past twenty years. An example for Flanders. Dutch, work, equal opportunities. I think that’s a wonderful story.”

Flemish Minister in charge of Brussels, Dalle:Brussels is the city with the most talents in the world. We owe that to its great diversity. To unlock those talents, we need a common language. With Dutch, we can connect talents. The House of Dutch plays a crucial role in this.”

The evening programme commenced at 6 pm with an awards ceremony at the Halles Saint-Géry in front of an audience of 500 guests. These included: 

  • Chef instructor at Bel’o, Samira Chaoui, who has been able to progress in her job thanks to her knowledge of Dutch.
  • Katrien Vanachter, staff member at the Leidstar School Brussels, who collaborates with the Dutch Language House Brussels on organising opportunities to practice the Dutch language for parents at school
  • Odette Hermans, a committed volunteer who acts as a moderator during Dutch Language House Brussels Babbelut conversation tables
  • Ann Deraedt, who organises Dutch language practice sessions at Nohva Community Centre 
  • Alexandra Cromphout, who is the inspiration behind the various conversation activities at Muntpunt
  • Ayla De Greve, who accepted an award on behalf of all NT2 teachers at CVO Lethas, CVO Brussel, CVO Sempe and Ligo Brusselleer
  • Meryem Bakay, a childcare worker in Woluland who was encouraged to learn Dutch in the workplace by her manager, Sandra Pishoudt

The award ceremony took place in the presence of the College of the Flemish Community Commission. 

Minister Sven Gatz, coordinating College Member for the House of Dutch Brussels responsible for Education and School Construction, awarded a prize to Leidstar School: Creating opportunities to practice the Dutch language (in Brussels) leads to an improved understanding and greater linguistic ability for parents. This results in better communication between the parents and the school, which in turn positively influences the learning process of the children themselves. Improving the parental language skills boosts the parental involvement and participation in school life, A win win for all!”

State Secretary Ans Persoons, College Member responsible for Culture, Youth, Sport and Community Centres: For 20 years, the Dutch Language House has been making a difference by offering non-native Brussels residents, and newcomers in particular, a real chance to learn Dutch. The commitment of the many volunteers is worth its weight in gold, because without them the course participants would not get the practice opportunities needed in the language learning process. A great example of this are the Babbelut conversation tables that have been a success formula for years.”

Minister Elke Van den Brandt, college president in charge of Budget, Welfare, Health, Family and Urban Policy: Dutch has become a place of encounter, in Dutch we get to know each other. We need language to make society but one does not come before the other. There are also people who learn language in the workplace. And when they do that in a nursery, often in difficult circumstances, it deserves a lot of appreciation.”

De Bonski’s provided the entertainment, singing Belgian Dutch-language songs together with the entire audience. 

Director Patrick Manghelinckx and chairman Frans De Keyser look back with satisfaction on a successful celebration: 

Investing in high-quality support for Dutch language students and tailoring our services to the unique Brussels model will remain the House of Dutch Brussels’ number one priority in the coming years.”