ELT Industry in Malta

 

Malta
Malta’s rich and colourful history dates back to the mists of time spanning a period of seven thousand years. This small yet proud nation can boast of a historical, cultural and linguistic tradition that is the envy of much larger countries. The Maltese language, with its Semitic roots, and Romance and Anglo Saxon superimpositions is quite unique, and is a reflection of the very same historical fabric that has shaped the character of the Maltese people.
Combined with its cultural, historical and linguistic heritage, Malta also offers a pleasant and congenial climate, a safe and friendly environment, a high standard of living and an excellent quality of life. All this makes it an ideal place where to live and study English. In Malta, Maltese and English stand side by side as official languages both spoken fluently by a bilingual society that is tri-cultural with the Mediterranean love of life, a Romance love of culture and an Anglo  Saxon attitude towards efficiency and good governance. In fact, most business transactions in Malta are conducted in English and this fact, amongst others, has contributed in no small, way to Malta’s economic development in tourism and a wide spectrum of industrial sectors. English is the language of business and international communication in Malta and as such it is a vital and important element the firmly links the Maltese Islands to the rest of the world.      
 
 Historical Overview of the ELT Industry and Profession in Malta
Malta hosted its first Italian students on an English language holiday in 1963. This was a joint initiative by the students of the National Student Travel Service of the University of Malta and that of the lecturers of the Department of English of the University’s Faculty of Arts. This innovative idea found fertile ground as words of praise spread among colleague students at the University of Rome and more students arrived in the following summers.
Conscious of the developments in ELT into a fertile and rewarding industry in the UK, the promoters set out in the late sixties to attract other learners of English and ventured to Austria and Germany, marketing the idea with professional language travel operators. The proposal was well received and within 10 years the same team operated English courses for adults all the year round. The success registered was an obvious invitation to Maltese entrepreneurs to invest in ELT and by the late 1980s some 10 schools were established to run ELT courses.
This created a wonderful opportunity for the original team to advocate the establishment of national standards and to move on to constitute a national federation (Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta – FELTOM) with the objective of developing, establishing and maintaining standards in all aspects of English language stays in Malta. Nearly all schools operating at the time became founder members. The Federation expanded its objectives into codes of conduct to regulate the academic component, student welfare, and host family accommodation.
 
 
 In 1996 the Minister of Education, through subsidiary legislation, set up an EFL Monitoring Board composed of representatives of the Ministry, the University, The Malta Tourism Authority, FELTOM and non-FELTOM schools. In this manner the ELT profession and industry were set on a firmer footing, with apposite legislation that was the first of its kind internationally. The Monitoring Board, today called the ELT Council,  inspects schools on an annual basis annually and makes its recommendations on teaching standards, school management and other relevant matters in line with its remit.
 
The ELT Council administers its own proficiency examination for prospective EFL teachers. The examination is continually upgraded, as is the syllabus for courses which focus mainly on teaching methodology. Other benchmarking parameters are also introduced on an ongoing basis. In addition, the internationally recognised University of Cambridge CELTA and Trinity Cert. TESOL have become common teacher qualifications.
 
The host family accommodation code of conduct was also incorporated into subsidiary legislation in 2002 and a revision to meet modern standards is in the making.
 
Malta can boast an ELT profession and industry that is well structured and monitored, being practically the only language learning destination in the world with legislation that assures every school maintains a national quality standard. All this has resulted in rapid growth for the industry.
 

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