Luxembourg is a trilingual country. The national language is Luxembourgish while French is the legislative language; French, German and Luxembourgish are the three administrative and judicial languages.
The languages spoken by foreign residents, Portuguese and English in particular, are gaining in importance.
The education system is also plurilingual, with the use of German, French and Luxembourgish as of traditional elementary education. The multi-linguicism of the Luxembourg education system is one of the biggest assets for young people in a world without borders, but it is also a challenge for many students with very diverse linguistic origins.
A policy to diversify school offer encouraged the opening of several public international schools, complementing the traditional school landscape. These schools make it possible to offer students flexibility in language learning.
A plurilingual education programme for children aged 1 to 4 is available in all education and care services (SEA), providers of the chèque-service accueil. Young children are put in contact with Luxembourgish and French in a playful way, adapted to their age and their rhythm, without constraints, in everyday life (meals, walks, ...), play, nursery rhymes, etc.
The languages of the child’s families are also valorized.
Cycle 1 (children aged between 3 and 5) also implements a plurilingual approach focusing on Luxembourgish and French, while promoting children's mother tongues. Luxembourgish is used as language for daily communication while several activities are organised in French throughout the week.
This prepares children for school and the plurilingual society in which they will evolve.
In cycles 2 to 4 (children aged between 6 and 11) literacy is done in German, which at that stage is the teaching language of all subjects with the exception of French lessons. Learning to speak French starts in cycle 2 while learning to write French is introduced in cycle 3.1.
Classic secondary education
Up to the class of 5e ESC (3rd year of classical secondary education) all subjects are taught in German with the exception of French and mathematics.
English is taught as of the class of 6e ESC (3rd year of classical secondary education) - modern section or 5e ESC - Latin section.
Starting with the class of 4e ESC (4th year of classical secondary education) all subjects are taught in French, with the exception of German and English lessons for which the target language is used.
As of the class of 3e ESC (5th year of classical secondary education) students can add a fourth language: Italian, Spanish or Portuguese.
General secondary education
The teaching language in the lower classes is German, except for the mathematic lessons, which are taught in French. English is taught as of the class of 6e ESG.
In the higher classes the teaching language is mostly German, except for specific subjects that are taught in French. As of the class of 4e ESG there are classes with a specific language system (à regime linguistique spécifique) where subjects are taught in French.
In classic secondary education and general secondary education, there is a specific language offer based on students’ needs.
Since the start of the 2021-2022 school year, students in 4e (classic and general secondary education) are offered a Luxembourgish language course, which includes three main components: Luxembourgish language, general knowledge of the country and Luxembourgish society and culture.
International public offer
European public school
Several international public schools operate according to the programmes, promotion criteria and timetables of the European Schools system. They are open to all students, without registration fees. They offer European elementary and secondary education, leading up to the European Baccalaureate:
- École internationale Differdange & Esch-sur-Alzette (EIDE)
- École internationale Junglinster (LLIS)
- École internationale Mondorf-les-Bains (EIMLB)
- École internationale Edward Steichen-Clervaux (LESC)
- École internationale Mersch Anne Beffort (EIMAB)
- École internationale Gaston Thorn (EIGT)
European education gives students the opportunity to choose a flexible language path that starts with literacy in their dominant language (or mother tongue).
European primary school
From the first year of primary education (P1), students choose :
- a language section among French, German or English sections (the offer varies from one school to another);
- Language 1 (language taught at mother tongue level) among French, German, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian (the offer varies from one school to another);
- Language 2 (language taught at the first foreign language level) among French, German and English.
One of the L1 or L2 languages must be the language of the section. Apart from language courses, all subjects are taught in this language.
European secondary education
Students add to their choice :
- Language 3 (language taught at the second foreign language level) among French, German, English, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian (the offer varies from one school to another);
- Language 4, taught as an option as of S4.
From the third year of secondary school, non-language courses are taught in language 2.
During their time in elementary school and up to the third year of secondary school, all students take Luxembourgish lessons with at least 2 units per week.
Public international education
Several public high schools prepare for the International Baccalaureate (IB) in French or English in accordance with the provisions of the International Baccalaureate Organization recognized in most countries:
- Lycée technique du Centre (IB in French)
- Athénée de Luxembourg (IB in English)
- Lycée de Garçons Esch (IB in English)
British public education
International School Michel Lucius offers English-speaking elementary and secondary education according to the UK programme accredited by University of Cambridge.
Lycée germano-luxembourgeois de Schengen offers education that combines elements of Luxembourg and German school systems. The vehicular language in most subjects is German.