Inhabited since around 5200 B.C, Malta’s rich, vibrant history and culture have ensured its survival, prosperity, and lure throughout Europe’s history. Today, this jewel in the Mediterranean has entered a new chapter, with its acceptance into the E.U, and the island’s eagerness for new challenges.
Malta’s past is one so richly woven with visitors, invaders, merchants, and pilgrims that the idea of international communication is one of the founding skills upon which this island has prospered for many thousands of years. From the great old cities, built by the European knights of the order of St. John, to Mdina, ‘the silent city’ with its roots in North African culture, Malta has held on to the very best of the many other nationalities it has met along the way. With the Neolithic temples dating back to 3600 B.C, this is an island which has always served as a very special meeting place for different cultures – the Phoenicians naming the island ‘Malat’ meaning ‘Safe haven’ around 1000BC.
The island’s ties with English began in the late 1700’s and were cemented in 1800 when Malta voluntarily became part of the British Empire. At the time, Italian was the language spoken by Malta’s elite, and was the official written language of Malta, although Maltese, a distinct language with Semitic roots was widely spoken. As British rule carried on through the years, English became more widely used, until Maltese and English were declared the sole official languages of Malta in 1934, at which time only about 15% of the population could speak Italian. Since gaining it’s independence from Britain in 1964, Malta, as a nation, has prospered, and renewed itself in the same way it always has; it’s location, climate, and national character attracting people from all over the world for business and leisure.
For many years, this little island in the Mediterranean has been attracting those wishing to learn English, as Malta’s education system and enterprising nature has meant that it has been able to offer an excellent academic level, whilst occupying and entertaining generations of visitors with its wonderful natural resources. As a mainly bi, or even tri-lingual culture, Malta’s inhabitants know communication better than most, and while not all native English speakers, the Maltese have grown up with all the subtleties and nuances of the language needed to produce first class teachers.
As tourism and education have come together, language schools have developed across the island, offering courses in world-recognized certificates, as well as targeted language courses such as medical, or business English. Many of the schools occupy prime locations in and around the St.Julian’s area, one of Malta’s centers for restaurants and nightlife, and some schools also organize tours and excursions to the more remote sights the island has to offer. Malta’s status as a first class language-holiday destination has meant that some of the big named international schools have set up shop, as well as independent schools such as Elanguest Ltd who have achieved some of the highest Cambridge First Certificate pass marks in the world.
The future for English language schools in Malta is tied to the nation’s ability to change and adapt to new challenges whilst keeping the best of what makes this island so special; its traditions, culture, hard-working nature, and simple beauty, and it’s for these reasons that people will be traveling to Malta to learn English for many years to come.