Primary education

Public primary school is for children from 3 to 11 years. It comprises nine years of schooling spread over four cycles. Any child living in Luxembourg who has reached the age of 4 before 1st  September must attend primary school.

Cycle 1 consists of one year of optional early education (3 to 4 years) and two years of compulsory pre-school education (4 to 5 years). Children learn to understand and speak Luxembourgish. Luxembourgish is the main language of communication in class. Languages spoken in the family are valued and children are also introduced to spoken French.

Children newly arrived in Luxembourg between the age of 6 and 11 are integrated into a regular class (also called classe d’attache) (cycles 2 to 4) based to their achievements (according to the assessments of the country of origin), their educational background, their age and the results of assessment tests in mathematics and their mother tongue. They also attend courses for newly arrived pupils to improve their German and French skills.

They may also attend public international education.

Further information:

Welcome courses (cours d’accueil)

The municipalities provide either learning support (cours d’appui) (for all kind of school-related difficulties) or welcome courses (intensive language courses for newly arrived pupils).

These courses are organised from the second year of cycle 2. Children take courses in German and/or French, respectively introductory courses in the Luxembourgish language. The number of hours of intensive language courses varies according to achievements, progression and age.

The main purpose of the courses for newly arrived pupils is to help children express themselves in a school context and to follow the teaching in German and/or French. Pupils must therefore develop sufficient skills to:

  • communicate in everyday situations;
  • gradually participate in the pedagogical activities in the classroom, i.e. to understand the subjects dealt with in class.

The aim is to integrate pupils as quickly as possible into a regular class. Thus, as soon as they arrive, they are enrolled in a classe d’attache. Regular contact with the pupils of this class promotes the learning of the country’s languages: the more pupils are in contact with the target language, the faster their learning and integration is to school life.

In the courses for newly arrived pupils, the choice of languages to be taught as well as the sequence these languages are taught will be based on their previous achievements, their age, the languages known by the parents or guardians and the proximity of the mother tongue with the first foreign language to be learned.

Initially, teaching is limited to a single language (German or French). In principle, they start with the language the child is most familiar with, the primary goal being to allow the child to communicate as quickly as possible with the entourage. After acquiring a certain fluency in the 1st language learnt in class, the teaching of the 2nd language will start.

Courses in Portuguese language

Complementary Portuguese language courses

The complementary Portuguese language courses, in addition to the regular schooling offer, are aimed at Portuguese-speaking pupils in cycles 2 to 4.

Courses are organised:

  • in the school attended by the pupil;
  • two hours per week outside of class hours.

The Portuguese language is developed according to a specific curriculum in accordance with the Luxembourg Primary Education Study Plan and the Portuguese teaching abroad curriculum. The complementary courses represent a link between the languages and subjects of the Luxembourgish school and the Portuguese language.

Portuguese language skills are included in the pupil’s intermediate assessment.

Portuguese courses can also be offered as a foreign language (if the number of enrolments is high enough). This offer is aimed at pupils starting to learn Portuguese.

Further information:

Integrated courses in Portuguese language

The integrated courses are aimed at Portuguese-speaking pupils in cycles 1 to 4. They are part of the curriculum.

In cycles 2, 3 and 4, these courses contribute to a better understanding of certain subjects taught in Luxembourgish schools. For two hours a week, pupils follow the programme of introduction to science (cycles 2 and 3), natural sciences and humanities (cycle 4) in Portuguese. These are the same courses for all children, as defined in the primary school curriculum.

Portuguese language skills are included in the pupil’s intermediate assessment.

Further information:

Parallel courses in Portuguese language and culture

Parallel courses are aimed at pupils in cycles 2 to 4. These are Portuguese language courses outside of school hours. 

At the rate of three hours per week, students follow the Portuguese language programs of Camões – Institut de la Coopération de la Langue, I.P. (Public Institute for Cooperation and Language) according to the framework for teaching Portuguese abroad.

Pupils can obtain a certificate of their skills acquired in the Portuguese language.

In some secondary schools, parallel courses and extracurricular activities are also offered to pupils.

Assistants for Portuguese language in cycle 1

To facilitate the integration in early and pre-school education with a high proportion of children of Portuguese origin or speaking Portuguese at home, the school may use a Portuguese assistant to assist the class teacher (two hours a week in class). Experiences in different municipalities show that, in this way, children understand the topics dealt with in class more quickly and feel more secure and motivated.

All language skills are perceived as resources. Thus, the role of the Portuguese-speaking assistant is to develop the mother tongue of Portuguese-speaking children and to use their language skills to encourage the learning of other languages.

The Portuguese-speaking assistant:

  • participates in the reception of Portuguese-speaking children;
  • consults with the class teacher to plan educational activities (e.g. telling stories in different languages, role-playing);
  • informs parents about the child’s language development;
  • participates, if required, in meetings with parents.

All languages are valued in class. Mastering a language boosts children’s self-confidence, motivates them to learn other languages and promotes their well-being in school.

Intercultural education and introduction to languages

In order to promote opportunities for meeting and discussion, a number of educational projects are proposed by the Centre for Intercultural Education (IKL).

It is recommended that teachers organise language introduction activities directed at all the pupils in the class, on the basis of the corresponding booklet entitled Ouverture aux langues à l'école (Opening up to languages at school).

The main aims of these activities are:

  • to arouse pupils’ curiosity when confronted with similarities and differences between languages;
  • to develop their powers of observation, analysis and thought with regard to languages;
  • to increase their motivation to learn languages;
  • to promote a positive attitude to linguistic and cultural diversity.

The aim of the Story Bag project (projet Sac d’histoires) is to promote reading and activities for the whole family to do together on the theme of books and stories. The ‘story bag’ is prepared at school and taken home by the children; it contains a children’s book with a translation into the child’s native language, a CD with the story of the book read in the languages most used in the class, and an information sheet for the parents.

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