Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bilingualism Makes Children Smarter

Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French and German although English is often used as a compromise to solve "the linguistic problem". However, far too many Belgians and foreign residents are still monolingual. One of Belgium's assets in attracting foreign investment has always been the multilingual skills of its workforce yet through militant defence of one language, they are losing this advantage and I for one believe that is a backward step.

Scientists at the Free University of Brussels (VUB - Vrije Universiteit van Brussel) have now demonstrated that bilingual children solved simple math problems using less brain activity than monolingual children. The addition of a language trains the brain to solve cognitive tasks more easily. This is a major reason for studying Latin as the endurance of all those complicated noun declensions and verb conjugations cause neural pathways to fuse which aid in other applications. I remember learning the pluperfect passive subjunctive but can no longer remember what that means!

Piet Van de Craen, a neurologist at VUB who lead the study, says that the brain scans of the children indicate that bilinguals use less energy to complete cognitive tasks much like an experienced driver no longer has to "think" about how to drive a car. His conclusion is that bilingual education helps to "build a better brain".

According to Sociologist Morris Massey, ages 0-7 are known as the Imprint Period when children absorb everything like sponges and when the most neural pathways are fused. This is the optimum time for learning the basics of anything.

The Belgian school system is considered one of the best in the world but laws in Wallonia and Vlaanderen now forbid children to study a foreign language before year 5 at around ten years old, while studies indicate that language learning yields the best results when started as young as possible.

This makes no sense. I was fortunate to start learning French at an English school from age four giving me an edge, particularly with the accent. My sons were educated in Spanish schools for three years from age 5-8 and 2-5 and coped perfectly with being bilingual. In the last year they attended a private English school with 20% of their curriculum in Spanish. After three years in Flemish school, they are now in the top half of their class, even in Flemish moedertaal, and the older son is in his second year of learning French, with test results always 18-19 out of 20. His only problem is writing. He started learning in an English school at age 4, then moved to the Spanish way and now Flemish. He is receiving extra help with writing before moving on to secondary school.

CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) is a technique to integrate a second "target language" into the curriculum which means that some subjects are taught in the second language, the time increasing as the child grows older. CLIL has been endorsed by the European Union which incorporated it into its 1995 initiative calling for every European citizen to have mastered three languages by the time he or she leaves secondary school.

Dr Van de Craen was asked whether there were any negative aspects of starting foreign languages early. He pointed out that any skill is best when mastered young, eg learning a musical instrument or chess. The only drawback would be spending more time on the chosen activity than on something else but that would be a conscious choice.

One concern has been that studying a second language will affect the development of the native language. Again he says that a child fluent in Dutch who begins an education with 20% in French will not develop only 80% of his Dutch. "It is 100% plus 20. It has nothing to do with losing something; you gain something".

"Additive bilingualism" is tied to evidence that multi-lingualism trains a child to learn how to learn, increasing competency across other subjects.

The UK dropped the compulsory learning of a foreign language in 2002 but has now made a U-turn. From 2010, learning a foreign language will be compulsory from age 7-14 although not compulsory right through to GCSE at age 16. I applaud the first half of this decision.

The European Commission states that the success of CLIL has continually increased over the ten years since it was first introduced.

The new Flemish Minister of Education, Pascal Smet, has publicly supported multilingual education and might be persuaded to introduce bilingual education into Vlaanderen.

© Antonia Harrison 2009, the English Hypnotherapist in Belgium uses hypnotherapy and Neuro Linguistic Programming to help people to make positive change.

Further reading:
Flanders Today article "Educating the Better Brain"
Piet Van de Craen
All UK primary schools to teach foreign languages by 2010

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go, photos and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Belgian Girl Receives € 3,000 to Remove 56 star Tattoos from Face

Kimberley Vlaeminck and the tattoo artist who tattooed 56 stars onto a third of her face agreed a financial arrangement to avoid a court case.

Rouslan Toumaniantz, the tattoo artist, must pay EUR 3,000 for the girl to have her tattoos surgically removed.

Vlaeminck is expected to have her first removal session in the next few days.

According to Karel van der Linde, who will remove all 56 of the stars, the process should take between 6 to 8 sessions of half an hour each. Kimberley will be put under a local anaesthetic each time.

It is necessary to wait at least a month between each treatment in order for the skin to heal, and after each session Kimberley will have to wear dressing on her face for 48 hours.

Karel van der Linde expects Kimberley to have her old face back by next Easter.

Source: Le Soir/Expatica

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go, photos and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hotel Metropole Magritte Art Package

Hotel Metropole in Brussels is offering Magritte’s Art Package starting at €89.50pp (mid week). This package allows you to discover the splendour of the city, this beautiful hotel and the work of the famous Belgian surrealist painter René François Ghislain Magritte.

The Magritte’s art package – starting at €89.50pp (mid week) includes:
One ticket per person for the museum Royaux des Beaux-Arts
Free upgrade to a Privilege room
Buffet breakfast served in Le Jardin Indien
Belgian sweets
Welcome drink “Ceci n’est pas un Cocktail” served in the bar Le 19ième

For an additional €85,00 per person, you can combine this with the Gastronomical package in the L’Alban Chambon restaurant which includes:

A glass of Champagne
4 course dinner Menu "Sensation"
Wine package "Essentiel" (includes 4 glasses of wine)
Valet service

This offer is based on availability and valid reservation.

I stayed in the Hotel Metropole in 2006. It has the most wonderful Art Nouveau bar with Toone puppets.

Visit the Hotel Metropole site.

Book travel to Brussels at EuroTravel.

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go, photos and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hypnotherapy Can Help Adolescents Cope

Too many young people lack the self-esteem needed to make a positive start in the adult world. Young people withdraw into their own world of adolescence dominated by friends, music and often sexual promiscuity and drugs. Parents and teachers demand respect but fail to reciprocate in a way that young people appreciate. Adults give one verbal message but act in a contradictory way. It is often a case of “Do as I say not as I do” yet we wonder why the adolescents are confused and rebel.

Physical and hormonal changes are taking place in their body sometimes causing embarrassment such as acne, sudden breast growth, voice change and through all this sudden change, they are seeking their identity. No longer a child but not yet an adult. Who are they?

We can deal with them not as unformed, uncertain adolescents but as individuals of unlimited potential, people with greatness within them. Respect their gifts and individuality and they will come to respect themselves.

Bombarded with academic information, they wonder what relevance this has in the real world. Subjects can be boring or stimulating depending on the teacher’s skills and ability to connect with the students in their model of the world. In a world of social media such as Facebook, My Space and Twitter, SMS’s, internet surfing, TV zapping, they connect with the world of NOW so why study Latin or Literature? Often they are unable to write complete sentences as they are used to the SMS language of abbreviations. Why write when you can type? Then there are seemingly non-stop exams and all that stress. For what purpose? To graduate from university with a large debt and difficulty in finding employment? Or minimal job prospects from inadequate training?

Yes, adolescence is a difficult time especially if we force our young people to conform and fit in with our world. Instead of alienating them and losing vital contact during a period when our influence can still be beneficial, we can help them quickly through personalized hypnotherapy.

Hypnotherapy is a safe, natural form of therapy which works direct with the unconscious mind, or subconscious, where all change and learning takes place with the least resistance. Primarily known as a way of stopping smoking in one session, a competent hypnotherapist can help young people in many ways eg:

- Improving self-esteem
- Improving confidence
- Improving self-respect
- Dealing with addictions eg drugs, cannabis, even excessive online surfing
- Nail-biting, thumb-sucking, hair pulling or blushing
- Self-harm eg cutting
- Eating disorders
- Weight control
- Nervous twitches, stuttering
- Acne, eczema, warts
- Excessive sweating
- Exam nerves
- Concentration & motivation
- Stress
- “School-itis” ie aversion to school
- Learning languages
- Improved memory
- Dating confidence
- Fears/phobias
- Obsessive & compulsive thoughts
- Depression
- Coping with divorce, new families & sexual abuse
- Shyness
- Public speaking & leadership
- Driving test nerves
- Certain health problems, pain control
- Coping with cancer & chemotherapy
- Dyslexia
- Sports improvement

All of these problems have been successfully solved or helped by hypnotherapy all over the world, often in a couple or a few sessions.

Neuro Linguistic Programming employs language to re-programme the mind aimed at finding solutions and empowered resourceful states.

Life coaching can help for a specific project, time period or ongoing challenge.

©Antonia Harrison 2009, the English Hypnotherapist in Belgium offering personalized hypnotherapy and Neuro Linguistic Programming in Limburg, Brussels and Antwerp. Life coaching is also conducted over the telephone worldwide. She is available for presentations to groups and private or corporate training.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brussels Marathon & Half Marathon

More than 6,500 runners have already registered for the 6th Brussels Marathon & Half Marathon on Sunday, October 4 making it a record edition. Do you want to register online at pre-registration rates? Act quickly because online pre-registration will close on Sunday, September 20 at 23:59!

Click here to register

After that you'll only be able to pre-register at JoggingPlus in Brussels, Gosselies, Rocourt or Louvain-La-Neuve. You'll find the addresses on . They will give you your bib number when you register. You can pre-register at JoggingPlus until Thursday, October 1.

From October 2-4 you can register at the Marathon Expo in the Royal Military School in Brussels. You will be charged the late registration fee as listed on the website.

Four different distances
Sunday evening, September 20 is the deadline for group registrations!

The Brussels Marathon & Half Marathon programme includes something for everyone:
9.00: Brussels Marathon (42.195 km)
9.30: Brussels Mini-Marathon 4 km
9.45: Knack Weekend Ladies Run 4 km
10.15: Chiquita Kids Run 1 km
10.30: Brussels Half Marathon (21.097 km)
Starting line: Cinquantenaire/Jubelpark
Starting line Kids Run: Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat near the Parliament building
Finish line: Grand Place/Grote Markt

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go, photos and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Worship by Clouseau sung in English

Clouseau are the most successful Flemish group but they also made two CDs in English. From In Every Small Town comes this absolutely beautiful song "Worship":

I worship the ground you walk on
I will love you until the day I die
Somewhere down the line
When the years are not so kind
I'll still worship the ground you walk on.

Full lyrics:
There will never be
another night like this
and I have never felt
the passion of a kiss like yours..

Someplace out of time
kept you within a touch
who would have believed
that we could feel as much
as we do now, as we do now

Baby,when the sun tries to hide
and the clouds build up their thunder
think of me and darling
this world won't hold you down

'Cause I worship the ground you walk on
and I will love you until the day I die
somewhere down the line
when the years are not so kind
I'll still worship the ground you walk on

No-one can come close
to understanding how
I couldn't feel much more
than I do right now
but you did somehow

Nothing lies between you and I
in this bed tonight
sleeping with contentment
in the arms of love


And somewhere down the line
when the years are not so kind
I'll still worship the ground you walk on
and I will love you until the day I die

Somewhere down the line
when the years are not so kind
I'll still...
I will .. I will..

Clouseau In Every Small Town available from Amazon:

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go, photos and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.

Gemakkelijk Stoppen met Roken

Eric Eraly wordt door de Vlaamse en Nederlandse Pers beschouwd als dé Stoppen-Met-Roken-Goeroe omwille van zijn Unieke RookStop Seminars waarin hij rokers op één dag makkelijk helpt stoppen met roken.

Eric Eraly was reeds te gast bij en werd geïnterviewd door VTM , TV1, VARA, TV Limburg, ATV, Life TV, S-Televisie, Het Laatste Nieuws, Het Belang van Limburg, De Gazet Van Antwerpen, Het Nieuwsblad, TRENDS, P-Magazine, Libelle, Flair, MENZO, DAG ALLEMAAL, Primo TV-Gids, Radio 1, Radio 2, Donna, Studio Brussel, 4FM, FM Brussels, Radio Nostalgie, …

Eén van de opmerkelijkste stunts van Eric Eraly was zijn RookStop Seminar in de Gevangenis van Antwerpen! Na 4 maanden waren de deelnemende gedetineerden nog steeds rookvrij.

In een andere stunt hielp hij, in samenwerking met P-Magazine, 50 Café-bazen op één dag succesvol van het roken af.

Waardering Consument:
Eric Eraly is de auteur van de BestSeller “De Gemakkelijk Stoppen Met Roken Methode”. Via zijn boek en CD’s zijn reeds enkele tienduizenden rokers op een éénvoudige manier gestopt met roken.

De grootste bedrijven in Vlaanderen en Nederland maken van zijn seminars gebruik om hun personeel te helpen stoppen met roken.

Produkten & Services:
* De BestSeller “De Gemakkelijk Stoppen Met Roken Methode“
*(Borgerhoff & Lambrigts 2007) ( Boek & E-boek )
* De CD-box: De Gemakkelijk Stoppen Met Roken Methode (CD-Box & MP3’s)
* De RookStop DVD ( binnenkort verkrijgbaar)
* Het RookStop Seminar : “In Eén Dag Van Het Roken Verlost”

Klik hier voor meer informatie over Stoppen met Roken

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

24th Scottish Weekend in Alden Biesen

The 24th Scottish Weekend will take place 11, 12 and 13 September 2009 in Alden Biesen, Bilzen.

There will be concerts of folk music, bagpipe performances and competitions, Highland dancing, Highland games (always fierce competition), whisky tasting, children's animation, storytelling and a market selling Scottish goods.

Red Hot Chilli Pipers will top the bill in the Saturday Concert tent 23:00-00:30.
Scottish, bad assed and sexy…. That’s the least one can say about the Chilli’s. This 8-headed pipeband has been travelling on a rising star which has already led them to all outskirts of the world in their short existence. They became famous by winning the BBC primetime Television show “When will I be Famous” and in 2007 they got awarded the title of “Live Act of the Year’. The core of the band is made up of three bagpipe virtuosi supported by a firm rock backline, and as their name already suggests, they don’t limit themselves to the traditional pipe-tunes. Their version of such rock classics as ‘Smoke on the Water’, ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Clocks’ will completely knock you over. Bagpipes with an attitude, drums with a Scottish accent…. This performance comes with a warning: it can be hazardous for your health!

I took my children two years ago and it was excellent entertainment for us all. My boys loved dressing up and doing archery. They even met a man with two ferrets. We met some Belgian guys on a stag party weekend. Apparently that theme is popular with Belgians.

Ticket prices Scottish Weekend 2009 (free entrance for children up to 12 years)
Day ticket
Friday Saturday Sunday
Presale 10,00 10,00 10,00
Pay Desk 13,00 13,00 13,00
60+ 10,00 10,00 10,00

2-days ticket Friday & Saturday Saturday & Sunday
Presale 18,00 18,00
Pay Desk 23,00 23,00
60+ 18,00 18,00

Friday, Saturday & Sunday
Presale 25,00
Pay Desk 30,00
60+ 25,00

Full details in four languages:

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go, photos and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.

Indoor Mini-Golf in Parc Molenheide, Limburg

The indoor Mini-golf "De Mijn" in Parc Molenheide, Molenheidestraat, 3530 Houthalen-Helchteren (tel 011/52 10 44) offers 18 holes built like a mine where light, smell, sound and movement play an important role. Like a true miner you descend into the mine while playing, encountering many types of mines like diamond and gold. You can even meet some dinosaurs. It is the ideal trip for young and old.

Indoor Golf Adventure "The forgotten mine' is the newest attraction at park Molenheide.

Prijzen geldig in de maand September Indoor mini golf:

Maandag, dinsdag, donderdag en vrijdag
Kind : normaal 6.90 € NU 3.45 €
Volwassene : normaal 8.25 € NU 4.15 €

Woensdag, zaterdag en zondag
Kind : normaal : 8.50 € NU 4.25 €
Volwassene : normaal : 10.00 € NU 5.00 €

Find indoor Mini-Golf "De Mijn" at

If you want to stay in a bungalow or camp at Parc Molenheide in September, they are offering 50% discount.

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go, photos and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

ADHD Medication in Belgium

€7.6 m was paid out for ADHD medication Ritalin (known in Belgium as Rilatine) in 2008, up from €4.2 million in 2005.

Are there really more children suffering from ADHD or more parents and teachers suffering from impatience? We live in a society of immediate gratification where we have to have IT now. But we also live in a society of stress bearing more and more on all of us, resulting in less time to spend with children. Children spend far more hours sitting in front of TV, playing computer games or using games consoles. They watch the same episode over and over on DVD rather than seeking new stories which stimulate the imagination. These children who are classified as ADHD because they cannot sit still and focus on school subjects, can often sit still for hours and concentrate on their computer games. So are they really suffering from attention deficity and hyperactivity, or are just the product of the crazy lifestyle we now live? I remember sitting quietly for 20 minutes at the start of the day for school assembly, a time to come together and reflect before beginning lessons. At primary school we lay down for half an hour after lunch to relax. Today kids are running around in the playground, often playing competitive games.

Gone are the days when children could sit quietly and build something from junk using their own imagination.

Some children with ADHD gain help from Hendrickx Technique found in Hasselt. Educational Kinesiology can also give enormous benefit for learning difficulties, dyslexia, spelling, reading and writing. There is a Flemish woman in Berchem who also sees children in English for 40 € per session. By co-ordinating the two brain hemispheres through fun exercises, it brings fast and measurable results.

I will make myself unpopular saying this but some people prefer to hold on to the identity of a label eg ADHD, dyslexia joining the victims "poor me" support groups rather than exploring therapies and techniques which have already helped thousands of people. It is your choice.

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go, photos and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.

Antwerp Expat Welcome Party 2009

Are you looking for a new home, living tips, expat clubs and associations, contacts in Antwerp's comunity, news and information, ideas on what to do?

Enjoy a welcome buffet party, live entertainment, practical information, tombola, meeting expats and locals, all for free.

September 10 at 18.00 in the Radisson Blu Park Lane Hotel, Antwerp.

Exclusively for CEOs, HRD & HRM, Corporate Mobility Managers and newly-arrived and resident expatriates.

Register at before 7 September 2009.

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go, photos and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Nia is a combination of free style dance, yoga, Tai Chi and more energetic exercise. I strongly recommend you contact Gitta for information and here is a list of Nia lessons in Limburg.

Gitta Weytjens
Certified Nia teacher
0032 497 91 63 65

Nia in het gras!

Afgelopen weekend hebben we in Bree op blote voeten in het gras gedanst, met zicht op het kanaal, wind in de haren en zon in het gezicht. Een heerlijke ervaring!
Bij mooi weer gaan de lessen op zondag in september ook nog door op deze plek!
(let wel: uitgezonderd zondag 20 september, dan gaat de les door op Orshof, Neerglabbeek. Zie 'Puur Natuurlijk')
Lokatie: Het Tolhuys, Kanaalkaai 3, 3960 Bree

Nia op PUUR NATUURLIJK, buitenleven beurs Orshof, Neerglabbeek, zondag 20 sep,10- 18 u

Laat al je zintuigen genieten van dit gezellige buitenleven event. Kom kijken, proeven, ruiken, ervaren, luisteren en voelen van het buitenleven en neem deel aan talrijke workhops, zoals Nia, Kinderyoga, Yogamassage, bloemschikken, schapen hoeden, boetseren met chocolade (!), vuur maken, huifkartocht, lezing bachbloesems, ...
Leuk voor ouders én kinderen

Nia workshop 10.30 u, 14 u, 16 u
Kinderyoga 13.30 u (6-9 jr) en 15.30 u (9-12jr)
Yogamassage 13.30 - 14.30 u en 16-17 u (om het kwartier)

Attentie! Op 20 sep zal de wekelijkse Nia les dus niet in de Balletschool in Bree doorgaan, maar in het Orshof, om 10.30u.
Deze les is GRATIS + GRATIS INKOM voor de beurs. Je dient me wel op voorhand je naam door te geven!

De Landelijke Gilde organiseert die dag een brunch, dus daarna kunnen we lekker aanschuiven en smullen! Allen daarheen!


Lessenrooster najaar 2009

zon Bree 10.30
maan Opoeteren 20 u
di Dilsen (Vormingplus, 2 kennismakingslessen, di 15 en do 17/09, 20u) Houthalen 10 u (Vormingplus, voor senioren, 10 lessen, start 13/10)
Heusden-Zolder 20 u (Vormingplus, 7 lessen, start 22/09)
Gruitrode 20 u (Vormingplus, 10 lessen, start 10/11)

woe Bree 10 u
Kinrooi 20 u

Een klaskaart bedraagt 80 euro voor 10 lessen en is 13 weken geldig. Je kan met deze kaart op alle lokaties terecht, behalve de lessenreeksen die georganiseerd zijn door Vormingplus.

NIEUWE Nia lokatie Opoeteren, Kasteel De Schans

Vanaf maandag 21 sep start er een nieuwe Nia Lessenreeks op Kasteel De Schans, in Opoeteren. We dansen er in een volledig gerenoveerde zaal in het Koetshuis, met zicht op de bossen en het water! Geniet al dansend van het mooie uitzicht!

10 opeenvolgende lessen - géén les op 2 nov.

Lokatie: Kasteel De Schans - Kasteelstraat 18 - Opoeteren

Dagworkshop 'Vrij en blij beleven en bewegen', zaterdag 26 sep, 09.30- 16.30 u, Zonhoven in samenwerking met Katty Desquesnes

Wat is vrijheid voor jou? Wat betekent vrij en blij leven? Tijdens deze dag wordt je uitgenodigd om in vrijheid en blijheid te leven op het ritme van muziek, beweging, meditatie, zelfreflectie en expressie. Zoals het ritme van het leven, van binnen naar buiten en van buiten naar binnen.

Je zal datgene wat je nog belemmert leren herkennen en erkennen van dat wat je nodig hebt om de vrijheid en blijheid in jezelf te ervaren terug ontdekken.
Speelsheid, blijheid , authenticiteit en expressie zijn de sleutelwoorden van deze boeiende dag. Gun jezelf dit bijzondere cadeautje!

Inschrijven via Vormingplus
Lokatie: Evenementenhal Zonhoven
Prijs: 18 euro

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go, photos and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.