German is the official language in Liechtenstein and is taught as the native language for approximately 87% of the population at all schools. In 1996/97, English was introduced as the first foreign language, starting at the third primary class level. The government is aiming for the introduction of English as a foreign language as early as the first primary school level. The country of Liechtenstein additionally supports the International School Rheintal in the border triangle economic region of Liechtenstein, Eastern Switzerland and Vorarlberg / Western Austria.
From kindergarten to the international baccalaureate, German-speaking and non-German-speaking children communicate in the English language. “Formatio”, the only private school in Liechtenstein, also offers a part of the instruction in the English language.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, the government, authorities and Parliament in Liechtenstein are convinced that mastery of the German language is an important tool for the integration of immigrants from regions other than German-language areas. A minority of Liechtenstein’s population comes from non-German language countries. The authorities have taken measures to motivate individuals with foreign backgrounds to learn German. The government created the position of an Integration Officer in 2008 and adopted a comprehensive integration concept in December 2010. Since 2008, foreigners wishing to acquire Liechtenstein nationality must demonstrate that they have a command of the German language and that they have basic knowledge of the legal order, structure of the state, history and culture of the country. Naturalisation is considered the conclusion of successful integration. At the same time, the residence period for simplified naturalisation on the basis of marriage was reduced from ten to five years.
Under discussion in Liechtenstein is the Alemannic dialect spoken in everyday life. Those learning only dialect are not sufficiently prepared to join the labour market. In order to strengthen one’s knowledge of Standard German, practical application of the language is essential.