National and international experts confirm that young children are capable of learning several languages intuitively and naturally. Indeed, studies show that a very young child who is frequently exposed to more than one language develops the ability to learn languages in general with ease. The child will not only find it easier to learn several languages but also to develop their cognitive skills (comparing, analysing, prioritising, etc.) This advantage will help the child throughout their life.
The State is seizing this enormous opportunity to support very young children in their language development, thanks to a programme for multilingual education introduced in 2017 in educational and childcare facilities and mini-crèches, for the benefit of children aged 1 to 4.
Multilingual education brings your child into contact, today, with the languages they will speak tomorrow, and thus meets a specific need in our multicultural and multilingual country.
Exposing children to Luxembourgish and French, while encouraging use of the languages they speak at home
Aimed at children aged 1 to 4, the programme for multilingual education is offered in all education and childcare facilities and in the mini-crèches providing childcare to eligible children under the chèque-service accueil scheme.
Children come into contact with Luxembourgish and French on a daily basis from a young age through play, which is tailored to the age and pace of very young children. It stimulates the potential of young children, who are naturally curious, without placing any constraints upon them, in an everyday context (mealtimes, walks, etc.), play, nursery rhymes and so forth.
The languages spoken at home are not in any way neglected. All the children are encouraged to express themselves in their own language, as this is essential for the development of their identity and language skills. Moreover, valuing and promoting those languages awakens their curiosity and interest in the various cultures and languages they are exposed to by the people around them.
An advantage for all children
The programme for multilingual education is an important part of the government's equal opportunities policy. Children can take advantage of the programme, regardless of the language they speak at home.
As your child will be exposed to Luxembourgish and French from a very young age, they will enjoy listening to, familiarising themselves with and expressing themselves in these two languages, and will be better prepared for school.
Luxembourgish is important for integration. By familiarising themselves with that language in their early years, children who have little or no contact with Luxembourgish at home will learn it more quickly.
Daily contact with French through play allows non-French-speaking children to take up the language in a more natural and relaxed way. In order to ensure consistency and continuity, children's introduction to French continues in cycle 1 of primary school through play-based activities. All the children benefit from this, whether it is their first contact with French or whether they have already had experience of a multilingual environment before.
When children are better prepared for our multilingual society and school system, they are better prepared for success.
20 hours of free childcare (for children from 1 to 4 years old, under certain conditions)
In order to ensure equal access to the programme for multilingual education, children aged 1 to 4 who attend an education and childcare service (crèche) or a mini-crèche under the chèque-service accueil scheme are eligible for 20 hours of free childcare per week, over a period of 46 weeks per year.
A child enrolled in a full-time early education class does not benefit from free hours under the multilingual education program. However, if a child does not attend full-time early education, they benefit from 10 free hours per week under the multilingual education program, for 46 weeks per year.
Qualified educational staff
Multilingual education in education and childcare facilities is provided by suitably qualified and specially trained staff. Staff are offered initial and continuing training to help them specialise in language acquisition for very young children.
A scientific committee to oversee the programme for multilingual education
A scientific committee has been set up to oversee the implementation of the programme for multilingual education. It is composed of twelve national and international experts from various fields, including early childhood, multilingualism, the development of language skills and multilingual education. By providing reasoned opinions and constructive criticism, they help to develop educational practice and ensure the relevance and coherence of the efforts made.