Being new to Luxembourg can be confusing since the linguistic situation is not that simple. There are three administrative languages: French, German and Luxembourgish.
A short history
When Luxembourg was founded, French was the most common language and, because of this, it is now mostly used in official and administrative matters. German was used in politics in order to make laws understandable to everyone. At primary school, German was the only language taught, whereas French was reserved for secondary school. However, in 1843 a law was enacted to reinforce bilingualism and introduce French in primary school too.
Some of the things you will find in French include: names of streets and shops, travel tickets, hotel registries and menus (some street and place names are also added in Luxembourgish). Newspapers printed in the Grand Duchy are mostly in German, but some cultural articles, as well as many advertisements and social announcements are in French.
Luxembourgish is also a symbol of the Luxembourgers national identity. Although of Germanic origin (from around the fourth century), Lëtzebuergesch has sufficiently differentiated itself from its parent language, so as not to be readily understood by many Germans. German native speakers might well recognise this or that word, or construction used in Lëtzebuergesch — in the same way that a German from one region can ‘understand’ a dialect from another German region — but are often caught out by ‘non-Germanic’ words or turns of phrase.
Article 1: The national language of Luxembourgers is Luxembourgish.
Article 2: The laws are in French.
Article 3: The language of the government: Luxembourgish, German and French can be used.
Article 4: Administrative questions. If a citizen asks a question in Luxembourgish, German or French, the administration must reply, as far as possible, in the language in which the question was asked.
There are several opportunities for learning languages in Luxembourg. Inlingua is one of the world’s largest language training organisations and has a centre situated in Hesperange. InLingua is one of the world’s leading language training organizations, with 345 Language Centers in 43 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America.
Yes Academy is another language school teaching several foreign languages, and is situated in the capital.
Prolingua is an independent language school specialising in language training for professional people. The company was founded in Luxembourg, offers its services in Luxembrourg and the border regions.
At www.languages.lu you can find language courses and have works translated.
Should you want to blend in and learn the native tongue, there are several schools that can help with learning Lëtzebuergesch, such as the Centre de Langues et de Culture, the Ecole privée GrandJean and the Centre Européen des Langues et de la Communication.