Interest from British learners in the Luxembourg language has been booming since British referendum on leaving the EU
Brexit is not only benefiting Luxembourg’s financial sector, it is also big business for language teachers as Britons seeks to learn Luxembourgish to gain Luxembourg nationality.
According to private schools teaching Luxembourgish, interest from British students in the language has been booming since the June 2016 referendum in which a majority voted to leave the EU.
“I can say that there has definitely been an increase in interest in Luxembourgish courses, immediately following the Brexit vote,” Learn Luxembourgish founder Liz Wenger told Delano, adding: “Britons that have contacted me are genuinely worried about how they will be able to legally stay in Luxembourg and continue to live the lives they have built here.”
Study Fox’s Jean-Marie Parisot echoed the sentiments saying his company receives “2-3 requests per week for new offers. They are all beginners. Mostly they’ve no background in the Luxembourg language, and they’ve lived quite a long time here already.”
Under Luxembourg law, to apply for Luxembourg nationality one must have lived in the country for five or more years, completed the living in Luxembourg course and achieved levels B1 at language comprehension and A2 at language expression in the Sproochentest (different rules apply for residents of 20 or more years).
The main institution for teaching the Luxembourgish language is the Institut National de Langues, which in 2016 recorded 3,485 learners in Luxembourgish (no figures were available for 2017-2018). But with registration required months in advance and an urgent desire to secure their future in Luxembourg with a local passport, many Brits have turned to private tuition. “The requests we get are quite urgent and most want to pass the test as soon as possible,” Parisot said, adding: “Most think that in 20 hours they can learn the language. That’s not the case.” The reality, he says, is that most will require 90 to 120 hours of learning, studying 2 to 3 hours a day, to reach the level required for the sproochentest.
Who wants to be Luxembourgish?
The overall number of people gaining the Luxembourg nationality almost doubled from 2015, when there were 5,306, to 2017 when 9,030 people gained the nationality, according to justice ministry figures. This is largely credited to the law change, introducing from 1 April 2017 new measures for long-term residents, among other changes.
Compared to the French, who account for 27% of the group, Britons make a negligible number of these new nationals. However, their numbers have grown five times over the same period, from 75 in 2015 to 384 in 2017 (equivalent to 4.2% of total new Luxembourgers in 2017). That figure will likely grow further by the end of 2018 as the Brexit deadline approaches.
But, while interest in the language for some may be purely focused on the passport, it is not the case for all Brits.
“I have some British learners for over 2 years now, but they are not doing the lessons for the citizenship (one couple already have the Luxembourg citizenship), but for integration and speaking with their kids, grandchildren and their teachers, their neighbours and so on,” Luxembourgish teacher Tania Hoffmann of Lëtz Learn said, adding: “I think that’s the right reason for learning a language.”