Luxembourg's society is characterised by its openness to languages: Luxembourgish, German and French - the country's administrative languages -, coexist on a daily basis with a wide range of other languages, such as English, Portuguese or Italian, spoken both by residents and cross-border employees or expatriate communities. It makes perfect sense that Luxembourgish schools allow students to feel the wealth of a multilingual environment from a very young age.
Languages and the way they work in the education system
Luxembourg' s education system focuses especially on German and French as taught languages, as well as vehicular languages (lingua franca). As for written Luxembourgish, it is taught during the first cycle of fundamental education and, to a lesser extent, as part of secondary education. Language learning is then diversified with English being added to the equation and, optionally, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or Chinese.
Languages in childcare facilities
Children benefit from a multilingual education programme that puts children in contact with other languages and stimulates the discovery of these languages in a way that is fun and tailored to their age. The aim is to get children used to hearing and speaking languages other than their mother tongue.
Fundamental education: learning the administrative languages
As part of the 1st cycle of fundamental education (children from 3 to 5), programmes attach particular importance to learning Luxembourgish, the leading language of communication. In addition, there is an initiation to French. In the following cycles (6-12 years), literacy is taught in German as the language of instruction for all subjects. The learning of French is done at 2 (oral) and 3 (written) cycles respectively.
Secondary school: language diversification
In secondary education, the importance of languages in the curriculum varies according to the chosen regime, but their learning continues to play a central role. The lingua franca is either German or French. Then there is also English on top of that and, optionally, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese as a 4th foreign language, respectively Latin.
Welcoming children in their language(s)
Given Luxembourg's multilingual population, it has become more and more of a common occurrence to see children arriving in the educational system without speaking any of the country's three administrative languages. As a result, Luxembourgish schools have the means to help pupils integrate and acquire the necessary competencies to pursue their school education.
At the fundamental level, literacy in German means that children can move forward together, regardless of their mother tongue. However, the government introduced integrated classes for Portuguese-speaking children in some of the subjects, to ensure that those children will be able to keep up with the official programmes in the native tongue.
As for foreign pupils integrating Luxembourgish " lycées" (secondary schools), there are various programmes through which pupils who achieved a part of their education abroad can integrate with the Luxembourgish system. For example, there are French or German tutoring classes, language classes in French as a vehicular language, reception or integration classes, as well as classes for English speakers.
Alongside public schools, there are also international schooling opportunities, which may help pupils move towards an international baccalaureate in French/English, a European Baccalaureate, English A-Levels or other diplomas that are not Luxembourgish but are recognized in Luxembourg.