Why is spoken Luxembourgish hard to understand

Do you have difficulties understanding native Luxembourgish speakers?

And do you have difficulties listening to Luxembourgish? I am asking you this question and writing this article because many students are struggling with understanding natural spoken Luxembourgish. As a Luxembourgish language learner you learn to listen to slow Luxembourgish audios, which is helpful at the beginning. But as soon as you have reached a more advanced level this is not enough. So I wanted to dive into the topic to help you understand why listening to Luxembourgish might not always be as easy.

Listening is indeed one of the biggest problem for Luxembourgish learners. It is possible for you to read well, to have good grammar and vocabulary skills and be able to speak. But when you listen to spoken Luxembourgish you don’t understand everything.  And then you feel frustrated. Am I right? So why is listening so difficult?

There are 3 main reasons

First reason: The written form of Luxembourgish words is different from their pronunciation.

♣ There are some silent letters in Luxembourgish. Like in the words:

Aarbecht, Wierder, Clienten, Cours 


♣ Some words are just pronounced differently, let’s take for example the verb maachen (to make): you learn maachen in your study book but many native speakers say man or you write du méchs (you make) but it sounds like du mëss.

♣ Many letter combinations can have completely different pronunciations as in the words:

Lëtzebuerger, méiglech, Sprooch, Gebuertsdag, Luucht, Präis


♣ Without mentioning the tricky ‘n’ rule.

This means that if you normally study with your eyes by reading you often won’t recognize words when you hear them with your ears: listening

Second reason:

♣Native speakers talk fast and connect words together. In some audio samples for Luxembourgish listening practice they pronounce each word slowly. But in real life we don’t do that. Instead we connect words so that two or more words can sound like one word. For example the sentence:

Wat maache mir muer de Moien? sounds like this in natural spoken Luxembourgish: Wat ma ma(h) mua de Moin?

Gi mir e Freideg an d’Stad? sounds like this in natural spoken Luxembourgish:
Gimma Freideg an t’Schtaat?


Den Tom ass krank sounds like this in natural spoken Luxembourgish:
Den Tomass krank.

You see. This means that listening to slow Luxembourgish audios is helpful but is not enough. To be fluent in Luxembourgish you must get used to hearing natural spoken Luxembourgish.

Third reason:

This is obviously the lack of opportunities to practice. In Luxembourg, especially in Luxembourg city you do not have the opportunity to hear and speak all day and every day Luxembourgish. This is one of the major problems for learners like you. But how can you practice on a daily basis? It is hard to practice your listening that helps you improve your Luxembourgish. Some people say you should simply listen more.

There are 2 major problems with just listening more:

The 1. problem is:

If you only partially understand what you are hearing it’s easy to get frustrated and stop trying. And then you won’t make progress.

The 2. problem is:

Just listening is ok, it is better than nothing. But if you are not doing exercises while you listen then you won’t get the full benefit of improving your comprehension your vocabulary.

So to solve that problem I advise my students to listen and read simultaneously Luxembourgish. Start today: take 10-15 minutes time, during your lunchbreak or in the evening, sit down with your tablet or computer and listen (choose articles with the transcript) to one of our local radios like 100,7, RTL or Eldoradio or to the audios of your Luxembourgish textbook and read at the same time.

How can I help you?

Listening and conversation Course. This package will allow you to listen first to a small dictation. Then you will listen to an audio (about 2-3 minutes) and anwwer questions. Then I will send you the full transcript of the conversation and the useful groups of words & vocabulary. Your homework will be to practise the new vocabulary and to prepare a conversation or a text about the topic and to talk about it with me in our one on one lessons.   You can start improve your listening comprehension You will be able to listen to the audio and read simultaneously the text. This will help you to get familiarised with the spoken Luxembourgish.

  • You can study at your own pace. There is no time limit for accessing the lessons, and you can download everything, too – so you can study even when you don’t have an internet connection.
  • You’ll improve your listening. Use it to work on your comprehension or practice listening and repeating to improve your pronunciation.

How about you? 

Tell me your experience. Are you listening to the Luxembourgish radio? How much do you understand? Are you able to tell in your words a summary of an article or news or even the weather forecast you have just heard? I would love to hearing about you so that I can help you in the future!

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