A recently released white paper proposed compulsory Maltese in all schools that follow the national curriculum and mandates that every educator be “competent enough to teach in Maltese” and “prepared as necessary to teach Maltese as a Foreign Language.”
The National Policy document lays out a framework for assessing and developing the Maltese proficiency of children from early years through to secondary school. The document also advocates for new incentives for migrant parents to learn Maltese.
“[This is] an important step in providing courses in the Maltese language for foreigners”
In a press release, minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo noted that the move is “an important step in providing courses in the Maltese language for foreigners residing in Malta”.
Bartolo is a keen promoter of the Maltese language, having called for the government to invest in creating a Maltese spellchecker and developing greater online resources in the language to prevent it from becoming “digitally extinct”.
The policy will be open for consultation from the public until October 31.
According to a European Commission report, Malta is one of only eight EU states where the majority of citizens have “practical skills in at least two foreign languages”.
Approximately 97% of the country’s 460,000-strong population speak Maltese, while 89%, 56% and 11% say they can hold a conversation in English, Italian and French respectively.
According to the EU’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, the number of languages spoken in Malta has been increased by the arrival of new foreign nationals, including asylum seekers and refugees.
As such “courses have been developed to teach Maltese as a foreign language in order to enable such groups to integrate into society”.