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Petition calls for dropping Luxembourgish as requirement for citizenship

Petition calls for dropping Luxembourgish as requirement for citizenship

Seeing as the country has two other official languages - French and German - this should be reflected in the citizenship application

Citizens of Luxembourg submitted a petition on 30 July asking if a language test in Luxembourgish should be the only option for people applying for citizenship.

Though its stated goal is to address concerns over language discrimination, the public inquiry is likely to spark a larger debate on the status of the nation’s language.

As the law currently stands, a petition needs to receive at least 4,500 signatures to be admitted for debate in parliament and the signing is open for this one.

An easy exam for a language few people speak

Although French, German and Luxembourgish are all official languages in the country, the latter is the only one you can be tested on when applying for citizenship. The language exam is called the Sproochentest and is made up of a spoken and listening part.

The exam is widely regarded as basic with the spoken part classified as A2, the second easiest level under the common European language framework.

According to Luxembourg's government website, candidates have to demonstrate the ability to introduce themselves and use simple language and talk about simple topics like family and work. Candidates need to get at least 50% on the speaking part for a passing grade, lowering the bar further.

Luxembourgish is one of the smaller languages in Europe, with around 600,000 speakers. According to a study carried out in 2019 by Luxembourg’s official statistics agency, Statec, it is also the most common language spoken at home in the country. The same study found out, though that French is the dominant language in the workplace.

This puts people who apply for citizenship from a non-French speaking country at a disadvantage, as they have to study two languages: Luxembourgish for citizenship and French for everything else.

Truly – a multi-lingual society

According to a study done by the Ministry of National Education in 2018, 98% of the population speak French, 80% speak English and 78% speak German. Luxembourgish comes into fourth place with 77%.

This may suggest that the current citizenship application process is not completely reflective of the reality on the ground in Luxembourg. And considering how French and German are big languages with a lot of speakers, this poses the question of whether this requirement only exists merely to exercise a certain degree of exclusivity.

The petition is offering a simple solution. Since there are three official languages in the country, then candidates for citizenship should be able to apply for citizenship in any one of them.

According to the text, proficiency in just one of the three languages is enough to lead a normal life in the Grand Duchy. The petition then poses the question: “Why not include a test in French or German in this process to increase the number of people who can apply?”

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