Ghent Museum of Fine Arts helps non-Dutch-speakers learn Dutch

The Museum of Fine Arts in the East Flemish city of Ghent has launched an initiative to help those from a non-Dutch-speaking background learn our language. The museum is the first in Flanders to launch so-called “conversation tickets” for non-Dutch-speakers”. The idea is that in addition to helping them learn Dutch that they also become familiar with the museum’s collection.     

The Ghent City Alderman responsible for culture Sami Souguir (Liberal) told journalists that he is pleased with the project as it provides the art museum with a social role.

"Art becomes a lever for language learning”.

"With ‘In dialoog’ (the name of the project) Ghent now has an extra place where people can practise their Dutch”, Mr Souguir added.    

The idea is quite simple: look at the work of art, draw inspiration from a list of questions and start talking to each other in Dutch about what you have seen.  

When discussing universal themes such as love, music, celebrations, the seasons, members of the group get to know each other and each other’s cultures as well as the museum’s rich collection of art.   

The museum has also developed a guided tour especially for those leaning Dutch. The tour centres on popular customs and beliefs. Many newcomers come from societies where faith still plays an important role. Although Belgium is now largely secularised, it has a centuries’-old religious tradition that is often reflected in art.         

The guided tour is interactive and accessible and allows new-comers from all social, educational and religious backgrounds to get to know the museum while improving their Dutch.