Primary education (enseignement fondamental)

Newly-arrived children aged 4 or 5 are assigned to a class in cycle 1, where they learn Luxembourgish. Children aged between 6 and 11 are put in a home-class (classe d’attache) (in cycles 2 to 4) according to their age, their previous school achievements (on the basis of school reports from their country of origin), and results in tests to assess their levels in maths and their native language. In this class they learn Luxembourgish, German and French, and attend the welcome class. 

Welcome classes (cours d’accueil)

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

In welcome classes, the choice of languages and the order in which they are to be learned depend on the age at which the child arrives in the Grand Duchy, his/her previous school achievements, the languages spoken by the parents, and the similarity of his/her native language to the first language to be learned.

Initially, teaching is limited to a single language (German or French). Theoretically, the first language taught is that which is closest to the child’s native language, the aim being to enable the child to communicate with people around him/her as quickly as possible. Thereafter, children under the age of 10 are taught the other language intensively, so that they are able to follow normal classes in the home-class. As it is difficult for newly-arrived pupils over the age of 10 to achieve the level required in cycle 4 in both German and French, emphasis is placed on French for this age group.

Integrated classes taught in Portuguese at primary school

Integrated classes (cours intégrés) are classes taught in mother-tongue Portuguese as part of the school timetable. They provide children from Portuguese-speaking families with a better understanding of environmental studies and sciences. They also allow the children to maintain contact with their native culture and to develop their competencies in using the Portuguese language. Two lessons per week in natural sciences, history and geography are taught in Portuguese, following the official Luxembourgish syllabus.

There are also parallel classes organised by the Portuguese language teaching department of the Portuguese Embassy, outside school hours.

Project – Portuguese language assistant in cycle 1

As part of the cultural agreement between the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Portugal, a project entitled Portuguese language assistant in cycle 1 has been implemented in nine schools in the Grand Duchy. The project uses a communicative approach, taking the children’s linguistic resources into account, and aims to develop their use of both native language and Luxembourgish. The project will be monitored between 2015 and 2017 by the University of Luxembourg (Institute for Research on Multilingualism).

Intercultural education and introduction to languages

In order to promote opportunities for meeting and discussion, a number of educational projects are proposed by the intercultural centre IKL (Centre de documentation et d'animation interculturelles).

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 a few words of explanation for the parents.

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