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Speaking English in Belgium

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Speaking English in Belgium

A woman on one of my Yahoo groups (which has nothing to do with travel) is going to Belgium, among other places, and there have been several comments made by other members that even though lots of Belgians speak English, they're not too responsive to English-speaking tourists. I've never encountered this problem in my travels in the other countries I've visited and would like to hear some opinions from this group. I'm getting all excited about a possible trip that would start in Belgium, move through France and end up in Italy, but have never been good with languages and especially now, in my dotage(!). I'm doing well to know greetings, courtesies, and "help".

Thanks for your thoughts on this...

Brussels, Belgium
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1. Re: Speaking English in Belgium

I don't know what this person means by "responsive" but suspect it has little to do with language and more to do with expectations in terms of "service mentality". Most Belgians a tourist is likely to meet cope very well with English, but they may not like this being taken for granted, so it is useful to start of with "bonjour" or "goede morgen" depending on whether you are in a French- or Dutch-speaking area: in case of doubt, use English. They are also not a "smiley" people in general, which some foreigners may misinterpret in terms of their own culture. And tolerance for inconsiderate tourists is going to be higher in countries that depend on tourism more than Belgium does.

Dublin
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for Valletta
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2. Re: Speaking English in Belgium

I went to Belgium last year for the first time and found all the locals very friendly most if not all spoke in English and we had a wonderful time during the Tour de France with some very helpful information from qaminari and we decided to return again this year and will be arriving at the end of the month for a longer stay than last time so tell your friend if shes friendly to the natives they will return it two fold.

Ghent, Belgium
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3. Re: Speaking English in Belgium

And we don't like to be called natives, lol.

I have heard that about Paris from American friends, the non-responsive part that is, but never really about Belgium.

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4. Re: Speaking English in Belgium

Thanks so much - you've both expressed my feelings pretty well, but you never know for certain what to expect. My only experience to date with Belgium was 43 years ago(!) when my husband and I were stationed in Germany, I was quite pregnant, and we were on a visit to Holland. Had one special dinner out one evening and a gentleman sitting at the table next to ours had to instruct me, very gently, that when the waiter brought my "pheasant under glass", removed the dome and then stood holding it, he was waiting for me to comment. We had a little conversation with him during the meal and he told us he was from Belgium. So my first and only impression of Belgians was a very nice one. :)

Dublin
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for Valletta
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5. Re: Speaking English in Belgium

pbuyse2 what do people from Ghent like to be called just in case I decide that I might like to visit and where would be a good place to eat or as my wife says drink.

Lytham St Anne's...
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for Malta
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6. Re: Speaking English in Belgium

I totally agree with Wrappido about the friendliness of the Belgian people.

I went regularly to the Ieper area visiting the battlefields and then across to Ghent and up to Brugge sometimes stopping off in Diksmuida and found everybody extremely friendly and helpfull. We wereinvited in to the home of a couple we casually spoke to in the street and made to feel very welcome.

I look forward to going again ---- the Belgian food makes the trip worthwhile , Oh yes and a bottle of Bush beer,

Graham

7. Re: Speaking English in Belgium

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