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. While German is the main language used for teaching in elementary school and in the lower classes of high school, most subjects are taught in French in the higher classes in high school. 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.
Public school also offers international classes, namely in French and English.
In elementary school
In cycle 1 (children aged between 3 and 5) specific importance is given to learning Luxembourgish, which is the communication language in this cycle. Following the introduction of a plurilingual education programme in day-care facilities and to ensure consistency and continuity, French teaching in cycle 1 of elementary school was adapted starting the academic year 2017-2018. Initiation to French language was officially added to the objectives of cycle 1.
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 the 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.
In classical secondary education (children from 12 years on; classes of 7e ESC to 1re ESC)
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 - 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.
In general secondary education (children from 12 years on; classes of 7e ESG to 1re ESG)
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 à regime linguistique spécifique - with a specific language system where subjects are taught in French.
In classical secondary education and general secondary education, there is a specific language offer based on students’ needs.
In the European Union, Luxembourg is the country with the highest number of students who don’t speak the teaching language at home, the highest number of languages taught and the highest number of lessons in foreign languages (source : Eurydice & Eurostat, 2012. Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe 2012). Learning languages is a main objective both in school and for adult education.