- 国際文化論集 (ISSN:09170219)
- no.37, pp.193-215, 2007-12-10
What are the languages used in Malta ? What is the state of language education in the Republic of Malta ? This paper is an attempt to answer these questions. A Mediterranean archipelago, Malta, is located 93 km off the southern coast of Sicily. This Republic gained independence from Britain in September, 1964, and joined the European Union in May, 2004. With about 400,000 inhabitants, it forms a bilingual, if not trilingual, society. More than 90% of citizens follow the Roman Catholic religion. Most people speak Maltese as their mother tongue, but some elite families bring up their children in English. There are two official languages: Maltese and English. These two languages make up the society diglossia with English as the high variety and Maltese as the low variety. Clearly the third language is Italian due to its historical and geographical affinity. Italian TV channels can be received throughout the archipelago. Thus the most popular modern language taught at school is Italian, followed by French, German and Spanish. Although the Maltese language, written in Roman alphabet, is derived from Arabic, standard Arabic is unpopular among the Maltese, partly because of very different scripts, and partly because of its association with Islam. Since tourism and manufacturing are the two major industries, the demand for English and other European languages is strong. The current school education is based on the National Minimum Curriculum, which follows a bilingual education policy. Students are expected to use both Maltese and English depending on the subject, and learn at least one foreign language as well. At primary school, Maltese is the main medium of instruction with some use of English, while at secondary school, Maltese is used for teaching Maltese, History, and Religion, and English is used for Maths, Science and ICT. The emphasis placed on language education in secondary schools varies. Independent schools tend to put greater weight on modern language education, whereas national and church schools give less time to languages other than Maltese and English. At the tertiary level, English becomes the dominant language for academic purposes except in the case of Maltese Language and Literature, and foreign languages.