TABLE OF CONTENTS
2. A short overview on Malta´s history
3. Evaluation of my language course at Linguatime Language School in Malta in comparison to my own expectations
4. Comparison between two language schools in Malta
In the past few years I recognized more and more students going on language courses abroad. Not only course in the U. S., but also courses within Europe strongly increase in popularity. There is a great variety of tender, from language courses that take only a few weeks or months, to so-called High-School-Years, professional business courses and even work and travel programs. At a first glance, it is very difficult to decide what to choose, but I would like to concentrate on language courses for students that last only a few weeks. I wanted to know why this is so fashionable nowadays and I began to think about this topic more intensively. I asked myself if this would not be a great thing for me to do, too.
In the following pages I am going to examine such language courses in detail. I will present the different types of courses you can choose and the selection of accommodation available.
There will also be an evaluation. I lead through a survey at Linguatime Language School in Sliema, Malta, to find out why so many students go on language holidays and if there is any progress possible at all. It has two parts, A and B. I distributed one at the beginning and one at the end of my stay in Malta to see if the students’ expectations were fulfilled or not. There can be seen positive and negative aspects that hopefully reveal the real image of such a trip.
After my evaluation I am going to compare two particular language schools in Malta, the aspects will be the variety of courses, the accommodation types, the prices and the teachers.
As a last point, in my conclusion, I am going to sum up the evaluation, so you will be able to see for yourself if such language courses really keep their promises. But at first, I want to have a closer look on the history of the country I chose for my stay. Malta has always been an interesting country for me because so many different cultures left their remains on its grounds. And although it is close to the African coast, it is still a part of Europe, which makes the journey much easier. Another advantage of Malta is the currency, for they have obtained the Euro in 2004. The thing I liked best of this island is that they have English as an official language. There are not so many countries so far in the south where you can speak English with native speakers and enjoy the warm climate as well; especially not in Europe.
2. short overview on Malta’s history
Today, you can detect many leftovers of cultures and peoples that once in history lived in Malta.
It all begins very early, at 5200 B. C., when the first settlers from Sicily left their traces on Maltese grounds and lived in caves and other primitive housings. Around the year 4000 B. C. until 2500 B. C., strange and mysterious temples were built out of huge stones on Malta and Gozo and a great number of female sculptures have been found. The most famous one is called “The Sleeping Woman“. This has been the era of the temple-builders.
Five hundred years later, about the year 2000 B. C., the island has been settled again. You can see carriage traces of that period that are up to 75 centimeters deep. In the year 1100 B. C., the Phoenicians have built a merchant base on Malta. They recognized the good strategic position of the island and used it as an interstation on their trading routes and gave the island the name “Malat” which means “safe harbor”. They reigned over the island until the year 480 B. C., when the Carthaginians arrived and took the island over. They built harbors and colonies, but in 264 B. C., the Punic War between Rom and Carthage broke out and Malta was lost to the Romans in the year 218 B. C. It became part of the Roman Empire and was called “Melita”. You can still see traces of the Romans today in Mdina and Rabat in various well-preserved mosaics.
A very famous exponent of the Christendom arrived on Malta in 60 A.D. He was on his way to Rome were captivity awaited him, but he shipwrecked. It is said that Saint Paul lived in a cave that can still be visited today. He brought Christianity to the island and even deployed a bishop.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Malta was under the sovereignty of the Byzantines, which lasted from 395 to 870 A.D. In the year 870, the Arabians came from Sicily and took the island over. They reigned over Malta until 1090 and had a huge influence on the Maltese language, the architecture and the culture.
In the year 1127, the Norman King of Sicily, Roger II., managed to invade the island and made it for more than 400 years a Sicilian colony. In these times, the European influence grew rapidly. The Sicilians had many different seigneurs that governed the island and when an Aragonian governor came to power in 1479, it became part of the Spanish Empire. From this point on, the island has been governed by noblemen both from Malta and Sicily. But in 1522, Charles I. of Spain gave Malta voluntarily to the Ottoman to avoid a takeover of Rome, because the influence of the Ottomans has grown largely in the 16th century. They were also called “The Knights of St John of Jerusalem” or - more shortly - “The Hospitallers”. Their Order has been found in 1113 in Jerusalem, one of their main actions was the participation in the various crusades. They are also famous for their symbol, the “Maltese Cross”.
On the 28th of May in 1522, Suleiman II tried to invade Malta but had to give up in September of the same year. In 1566, the Hospitallers erected a fortress named after the grand master Jean Paristot de la Vallette, “Valletta”, in case that Suleiman would come back. But he did not and the new fortification remained unused. After their victory over Suleiman, the Order of the Hospitallers broke apart and became more and more unpopular among the Maltese population. When the fleet of Napoleon arrived in 1798, they gave up without any struggle and Napoleon was welcomed like a liberator, the Hospitallers finally moved off. But the French plundered numerous churches and monasteries and soon became unpopular, too. Two years later, in 1800, the Maltese population asked England to help them against the French. Lord Nelson erected a naval blockade and forced Napoleon´s fleet to surrender. After the liberation from the French sovereignty, the English wanted Malta as a colony in return. In 1814, Malta became a British colony and in 1827, the British made Malta to their headquarters for their Mediterranean fleet because they, too, recognized its advantageous strategic position. They took the benefit out of it in the Second World War, so that the island was bombarded in June 1940.
In December 1955, the Maltese obtained seats in the English Parliament. In 1956, the Maltese delegation suggested to be more independent, but the proposal was finally rejected in 1958.
On the twenty-first of September in 1964 they finally became independent from England and ten years later, they were turned into a republic and elected their first president, Anthony Mamo. After an EU referendum in 2003, Malta became part of the European Community of States in 2004 and obtained a new currency, the Euro.1
3. Evaluation of a language course at Linguatime Language School in Malta in comparison to my own expectations
When I distributed the questionnaires to the other students in the school, I did not know what would be the outcome, but nevertheless, I already had some prospects. Now, I am going to present the results from my survey and I am going to compare them with my expectations.
As I asked for the reason why they had booked such a language course, I expected to hear causes like the weather or the nightlife, because I thought the main reason for young people to go to a language trip in their holidays would be the chance to have fun without their parents.
But a look on the results proved me wrong. More than forty percent indicated that their first aim was to improve their English. Another important point was the exam preparation, which was indicated by almost fourteen percent of the students. Some of them told me that they had to pass English exams for their studies at home and that they thought this language course would prepare those best. So, at large, more than fifty percent came to Malta because they wanted to study hard and not primarily to have fun.
Another fourteen percent answered that they came to Malta because they have already been there. It shows that this program must have been successful, because they would not return if they had not relished it completely.
Some answered that they went on that language course because of economical reasons and that their company paid this business trip to have more qualified employees.
Other indicated reasons were the desire to study abroad or the exploration of the country, the low price, the research on the internet and the wish to spend some time with friends. All those were indicated by almost 5 percent per answer. Surprisingly, only 2.3 percent stated that they came to Malta to have fun. I really had not expected such a low number.
My second question - if this was their first language course or not - showed, that a large number of students had already been on language courses, no matter if in Malta or in any other country. Almost fifty-five percent of the students had been on other language courses before. This was a surprise for me, because for example in my own circle of friends or at my school, there are not so many students who have already gone on language courses abroad.
The next question showed that 39 percent of those, who have already been on language courses abroad, have studied in Malta before. Close to Malta was England with 26 percent followed by Spain and France with every 8.7 percent. Other destinations were France, Germany, South Africa and Australia.
Then I wanted to know if it was the students´ own idea to study in Malta or if they were inspired by somebody else. I was convinced that most of them were sent to this language course on the advice of their parents. And again, I was completely wrong. Almost sixty percent answered that they had decided on their own to study during their holidays. Only 13.6 percent said their parents sent them to this language school and almost fourteen percent answered that they were inspired by their friends. Nine percent replied that their company wanted them to take an English course and 2.3 percent were inspired either by their teachers or by their partners. I was surprised at the fact that so much students voluntarily decided to improve their language skills meaning that they would have to study during their holidays.
After having a look at their expectations, I found out that 47.7 percent of the students aspired to achieve some advancement in English during their stay at the language course while another 15.9 percent responded that, above all, they were looking forward to making new friends. This answer was also my personal expectancy when I thought about possible responses from my participants.
Others expected to have fun, to learn new words or the chance to speak a lot of English, whereas some others said that they would like to see the country and make new experiences. 4.5 percent hoped to pass an exam for which they needed the language course as a help for preparation.
When I asked about the reason why they chose Malta, I got an unsurprising answer. Most of them indicated, like I had expected, that their main reason was the warm climate which would be a guarantor for many sunny days. 13.6 percent wanted to discover Malta and another 13 percent stated that they liked the country and the Maltese culture. Eleven percent were convinced by the low price of the offer. And of course, some answered that they wanted to have fun and therefore chose Malta; for it is known to be the island of language courses and this is in return a promise to meet a large number of other students. Another reason was the fact that they were influenced by their friends to go to Malta or that they had already been there, which was equally stated by 6.8 percent. Only 2.3 percent told me that their reason was the research on the internet where they had found out more about Malta and were finally convinced to choose this country.
Then I wanted to know where they would stay during their language course. I was sure that most of them would have chosen the host family and sure enough, almost 55 percent agreed. Close to the host family were the apartments, where 41 percent of the students of my school were accommodated. Only 4.6 percent chose a hotel, quite astonishing for me, because I did not know that this was a possibility, too. Afterwards I wanted to know the reason for their choice of accommodation. From those who chose the host family, I was told by 37.5 percent that they primarily wanted to improve their English and hoped to have some conversations with the locals. Twenty-five percent answered that they have already known them from one of their former trips to Malta and 17 percent responded that they thought this would be the best way to get to know the Maltese culture and perhaps the country. Almost 13 percent told me that this would be the cheapest possibility of accommodation and they chose the family to reduce the cost factor. Other reasons were the desire to meet new people and the parents’ wish for their child to go to a host family which was indicated by equally 4.17 percent.
When I asked the pupils who chose an apartment why they preferred this type of accommodation, I expected to get answers like the desire to have greater freedom than at home. I was not surprised at all when I got the respondences. Seventy-two percent stated that they wanted to be independent during their stay, for in an apartment they can come home whenever they want to and not when your host mother or host dad tells you. Twenty-two percent of the students who chose a stay in an apartment answered that their main reason were their friends, because they wanted to spend as much time as possible together. Only 5.6 percent stated that it is a better place for learning after school.
The reason for those pupils who said they would stay at a hotel were their parents, for they had come to Malta together and therefore shared rooms in the same hotel. With the last question of part A of my questionnaire, I wanted to find out the last mark they have had in English in their home country. This was a bit difficult because every country has a different grading system. So I transferred the answers into the German grading system. I thought that most students who pass an English course during their holidays, had to be bad in this subject at school, but surprisingly only 6.8 percent have had “adequate” and there were no indications below this. Most of the students, nearly 41 percent, have had “satisfactory” and thirty-six percent have even had “good” in their school certificate. But I also have to mention that 15.9 percent of the pupils gave no answer to this question.
From the answers of part A of my questionnaire, you can see that the students have really been motivated. This can be seen especially in question one and five, where most of the students answered that their reason and their expectation was the improvement of their language skills. The majority tried to achieve this by booking a host family. Interestingly, the bigger part of the students decided to go to that language school on their own, which also shows that they were really serious about this.
At the end of my own course I distributed the second part of my questionnaire, for I wanted to know if the students’ expectations were fulfilled and how they thought about it at the end.
I estimated that the majority of the students would answer in the affirmative to my first question; and 86 percent did by saying that their expectations were completely fulfilled.
As a second question I asked them to evaluate from one (sufficient) to six (insufficient). I started with the lessons and, thinking about my own week, I guessed that the majority enjoyed their courses. The answers showed that I was right, because thirtyfour percent indicated “one” and fifty-two percent “two”. The worst answer was “three”, given by 13.6 percent.
Then, I continued with the teachers and I expected a mixed answer. But again, I was proofed wrong, because there was no worse answer than “three“, which was given by 6.8 percent. In fact, forty-five percent indicated that the teachers were “sufficient” and gave them the best mark. Forty-seven percent gave them a “two”. By having a look at the answers of the evaluation of the extra-activities, I saw that most of the other students have had as much fun as I had, because more than sixty- eight percent indicated “one” and twenty-seven percent “two”. “Three” was only given by 4.55 percent. This was no surprise for me, because I have also tried several activities out of the broad range of offers on my own and I have really enjoyed them a lot. Lastly, I wanted them to appraise their accommodation. I did not divide between the three possibilities but asked in general. As I had a rather poor facility, I expected a relatively low ranking for this question. I was partly right. Only 4.55 percent ticked the best mark and there were also more than four percent who indicated “four”. But most of the students, almost sixty-six percent, indicated “two”͖ “three” was given by more than twenty-two percent. 2.27 percent did not answer this question. A good opportunity to find out if the students enjoyed their stay is to ask them if they would recommend it to someone else or not. I think that you only recommend things that you like yourself in order to avoid to disgrace yourself. I personally would have recommended such a trip and I thought the other students at my school would agree with me. Nearly eighty-nine percent did and stated that they would advise it while 11.4 percent said they would not. I also asked for the reason why they would not recommend this language course and found out, that sixty percent of those who did not agree with me would have liked to learn more while twenty percent said that they have learned too much during their stay at the expense of their leisure time. Another twenty percent complained that they had bad teachers.
In my opinion, it is important to check if there is any development after such a course or not, because this should be the ultimate ambition if you decide to do something like that. Nearly eighty percent answered that they did make progress, just like I had expected; for I have also made some development myself. There were only 20.45 percent who said that they did not make any progress at all.
As a last question, I asked if there was enough free time for the students or not. I personally must say that it was sufficient, but this depends on what kind of courses you have booked. Some courses are more intensive in time than others and therefore, not all students have had the same free time. Those who booked the intensive or private lessons for example had to stay until three or even half past four in the afternoon while others went home at noon time or even earlier. But you know this when you book your course and you can adjust yourself on this. So again, I wanted to know if the expectation and the reality differed or not. Nearly eighty-two percent of the students answered that their leisure time was sufficient or at least as they expected it to be, while 18.2 percent disagreed and would have desired to have more time for themselves than they have had.
The responses of part B show that the students really must have enjoyed themselves because the questions were always answered positively from most of the participants. It is also a sign of satisfaction, which means that their expectations have largely come true as you can see in question one and three, were the majority stated that their anticipation was fulfilled and that they would definitely recommend it others.
Among my respondents were 52.3 percent female and 47.7 percent male students. I did not expect to meet so many male students, perhaps because there is the prejudice that boys are not always so in favor of learning and especially not in their summer holidays.
I also divided them up into five age groups. 4.6 percent of the participants were in the first group, which embraced the years from nine to twelve, 29.5 percent were in the second group which includes thirteen to sixteen-year-old students. The majority, almost thirty-two percent, was in the third group were I placed the seventeen to twenty-one-year-old students. I think most of them needed this course as a preparation for their graduation or for their studies. 20.5 percent came from the fourth group which included the years twenty-two up to twenty-eight. In the last group I put all students of the age of twenty-eight and above, which contained 13.6 percent.2
4. Comparison between two language schools in Malta
Important parts of Malta’s economic system are the numerous language schools that are located all over the islands belonging to the Maltese country. Altogether, there are more than forty language schools on the island of Malta and on Gozo. To give you a taste of what you can expect of such a school, I am going to compare two of them; one will be the school I have chosen for my stay. I will have a look on the courses offered, the available possibilities of accommodation, the teachers and, of course, I also want to compare the prices.
1 cf.: http://www.sprachcaffe.de/Sprachreisen/sprachschulen/malta/geschichte.htm Klaus Bötig, Merian live! Malta, (München: Gräfe und Unzer Verlag, 2002) 112 etc.
2 cf.: Appendix