Acquiring Luxembourgish nationality by naturalisation is becoming more and more a must. The Institut National des Langues (INL), a public administration under the authority of the Minister of Education, Children and Youth, certifies knowledge of the Luxembourgish language, one of the three prerequisites for the voluntary acquisition of nationality. According to the INL, the number of people registered for the Luxembourgish language test (“Sproochentest” in Luxembourgish) is growing year on year. From September 2018 to July 2019, they were 2,242 candidates against 1,039 in 2014, i.e. an increase of more than 100% in only five years! But if the number of candidates is raising, the pass rate of the Sproochentest has been remaining the same for ten years: around 70%. Due to nerves and/or lack of practice, a lot of people fail the test, even those with a good level of Luxembourgish. If you are anxious about passing the test, here are some tips to prepare for a pass mark.
The Sproochentest is made up of an oral production test and a listening production test. The oral test is in two parts. You talk with the examiner about a given topic first and then you describe a picture. It lasts about ten minutes and takes place before two examiners. You need a level of A2 in Luxembourgish to pass. The understanding test is a 25-minute test. You listen to three audio pieces (a radio news item, an everyday conversation with two people and a discussion or presentation of a topic) and you answer multiple-choice questions on a sheet. You need a level of B1 to pass. You can find more information and sample tests on the website http://www.inll.lu
You can self-study Luxembourgish, but a few sessions with a one-on-one tutor or a few Luxemburgish classes may be helpful if you are an absolute beginner. With an experienced teacher, you will learn the basics of the language and you will improve your accent and pronunciation more quickly and more efficiently. You don’t need to speak like a native during the oral test – the mispronunciation of individual words is accepted - but the examiners must be able to understand you.
There are many and often free opportunities to learn Luxembourgish. The best option is the INL. The Luxembourgish classes are cheap and the teachers have proven expertise of the Sproochentest and the level required. They are actually the examiners for the test! If you don’t have time for classes, you can try small group or individual Skype courses offered by some private institutions and teachers. You can also work with a one-on-one tutor at home or your office.
During the first part of the oral test, you have to choose one of the two topics proposed by the examiner and talk about it for five minutes. Topics are related to everyday life and include work, occupation, training, family and friends, hobbies, eating and drinking, media, travel, holidays, languages, transport and shopping. Gather the necessary vocabulary - or ask your tutor for help with the translation – to talk about the different topics and write a text about each of them. Think about the questions the examiner might ask and give personal answers. Speak out loudly your written texts and record yourself on your smartphone. Do it again and again until you are familiarised with the vocabulary and the pronunciation of the words.
During the second part of the oral test, you have to choose from three pictures and describe it. To pass this section, memorise specific vocabulary related to location (on the top left, in the middle, in the background, etc.), colours, clothes and accessories, people (young or old, tall or short, fat or thin, etc.) and places (kitchen scene, town square, etc.). Once you have gathered the vocabulary, choose in a magazine or on the Internet some suitable pictures and describe them for at least 5 minutes.
Don’t think that the multiple-choice listening test is easy. The answers use different words to the audio, the choices may be ambiguous and you don’t have so much time. To prepare your understanding test, listen to the Luxembourgish radio as much as possible and try to understand Luxembourgish at a higher level than B1. RTL, Eldoradio and radio 100,7 store recordings of their programmes on their website and there are a lot of podcasts in Luxembourgish. If the news is too difficult for you to understand even with the transcript, try to find the same news in English on RTL today for comparison.
Practice Luxembourgish regularly: 15 minutes per day are better than 2 hours once a week. And don’t forget that Luxembourgish is a foreign language for you. Don’t try to speak at the same pace as your mother tongue. Speak more slowly and you will be more likely to avoid making mistakes.
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