“Malta has always had a multilingual nature and foreign language learning is a strength in our local system which needs to be sustained”, said Minister for Education Justyne Caruana while addressing a virtual meeting of the working group for the promotion of foreign languages.
The working group, chaired by Dr Mario Pace, Senior Lecturer of Languages and Humanities Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Malta, discussed the teaching of foreign languages in tertiary schools and institutions. Representatives of foreign embassies also participated.
Minister Caruana provided a background of our country where languages are involved and said that Malta is a country with a population that embraces languages – and we should be proud that as a population we are literate in more than our mother tongue, the Maltese language.
She said that we are natural polyglots and that is why over the centuries Malta was indeed at the very centre of civilisation.
Minister Caruana said that the wish to foster plurilingual and intercultural competences in the Maltese educational system is a response to European linguistic and cultural diversity and an increasing need for mobility and employability. Bilingualism and plurilingualism also entail economic advantages – jobs are more easily available for those who speak several languages, and multilingual companies have a better competitive edge than monolingual ones.
Learning foreign languages is a must in light of changing educational and labour market demands as well as growing mobility between countries which favour citizens who are able to speak two or more languages.
Minister Caruana said that the Ministry for Education recognises the importance of linguistic diversity and supports language learning as a lifelong task, essential for economic competitiveness and inclusive societies.
She emphasised that as Minister for Education she strongly believes in the promotion of foreign languages for various reasons, even for the enhancement of one’s personality and development, as languages increase communication and also help students be more confident while also opening their minds to new cultures.
Minister Caruana said that the ministry encourages our students not only to learn foreign languages but to participate in fora and events where languages are celebrated – in fact our schools participate in the yearly European Day of Languages organised by the Council of Europe to celebrate linguistic diversity.
Minister for Education also praised the National Literacy Agency, part of the Ministry for Education, which has a commitment to promote foreign languages. Minister Caruana said that in fact this week together with the National Literacy Agency she will be launching the Language Policy for Junior Years. This policy strives to provide learners with opportunities to have positive attitudes towards Maltese, English and other languages.
Minister Caruana said that she remains committed to see to the promotion of foreign languages in our education system and beyond.