Flemish Sign Language (VGT)
All VGT courses embark and end on a similar language level. The teaching method, however, can vary from course to course. When the course is taught by a deaf teacher, body language, signs, pictures and written Dutch are being used. In courses taught by a hearing teacher sometimes spoken Dutch is being used as well. VGT courses specifically aimed at deaf migrants have not yet been organized so far. If you wish to improve your VGT skills, of course you are always welcome to join the Flemish deaf community too!
Doof Vlaanderen, the federation that lobbies for the interests of deaf people in Flanders, yearly organizes its own VGT courses. The course material includes basic grammar, basic lexicon and Deaf culture. Every course is taught by a deaf teacher who uses body language, signs, pictures and written Dutch in communicating with the students. Courses at level 1 are organized in Aalst, Aalter, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Hasselt, Kortrijk, Leuven and Roeselare. If you want to attend a course at level 2, you can go to Aalst, Antwerp, Ghent, Hasselt, Leuven and Turnhout.
A VGT course can also be attended in adult education. These courses are being organized in various places and all have about the same program.
More information on these can be found at:
Various Flemish organisations offer courses teaching Dutch. The courses being provided depend on your age and current Dutch language level. Most Dutch courses are aimed at hearing non-natives. Only the CVO (Centre for Adult Education) in Mechelen offers a course specifically aimed at deaf migrants. However, every existing course can be made accessible by using a Flemish Sign Language interpreter.
In Flanders, education is compulsory for children and teenagers under 18. Non-Dutch speaking newcomers have a right to an improved integration in class by being supported in learning Dutch at school. This type of education is known as reception education (OKAN).
+ 18 and illiterate
Newcomers who do not know any Latin script yet or have learning disabilities are welcome at the centre of basic education. Classes there are always taught to small groups of students at a pace adapted to the students. The course’s aim is to teach people how to communicate using Dutch in daily conversations.
The Centre for Adult Education (CVO) offers Dutch courses at various levels and are, in that, accessible for both people who have no knowledge of Dutch whatsoever as well as people who want to improve their Dutch skills instead.
+ 16 and deaf
In Mechelen a Dutch course is being offered that is specifically aimed at non-native deaf and hard-of-hearing people. The classes are taught by a Flemish Sign Language interpreter who is being supported by some (deaf) volunteers. Both Flemish Sign Language and Dutch are used for instruction. Embarking on the course you do not need have any knowledge of either language. Both are being taught through practice. Also, Social Orientation is a topic that is being discussed during the course.
+ 18 having graduated
The University Language Centre (Universitair Talencentrum, UCT) offers courses for people who have already graduated from secondary or higher education and have already experienced learning a Western language as well. In that, these courses are taught at a high pace. Students are expected to fulfill parts of the course in self study too.
These courses are offered in Antwerp, Ghent, Brussels and Leuven only.
If you cannot wait to embark on a course, you can already start practising online. Below are some useful links you can use to learn Dutch and practice yourself.