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As the major language most easily understood by native Luxembourgers, German is the principal language of instruction in elementary school, although children speak Luxembourgish in the playground.Beginning in the second grade, French is taught as a subject, although instruction is still principally in German.

That conquest brought Luxembourgers closer to French culture and severed their links with Germany.

French became the language of official business and the one preferred by the elite.

The name of the nation derives from Lucilinburhuc , which in the local Germanic dialect meant "Little Fortress," referring to a small Roman castle on a rocky promontory overlooking the Alzette River. Luxembourg is one of the world's smallest sovereign states at 999 square miles (2,586 square kilometers).

The triangle-shaped country borders Germany to the east, France to the south, and Belgium to the west.

Luxembourg experienced four centuries of foreign occupation, primarily by Spain, Austria, and France.

The fortress was coveted for its strategic position.

Street names, shop signs, and menus are written in French, and it is preferred by the more educated, intellectual elite.

French is also the lingua franca used to communicate with immigrants, most of whom already know another Romance language.

Traditionally, Luxembourgish was rarely written, and no official rules of spelling and grammar existed until they were established by the government in 1984.

Older Luxembourgers suddenly found themselves accused of making spelling and grammatical errors.

The percentage of native-born residents declined from 93 percent in 1947 to 67 percent in 1997. Language is the most important element of cultural identity for the native-born.

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