A deep discussion around the future of the Maltese language in light of a changing island has raised questions about how Maltese children should be prepared for the future.
In a public social media post, a Maltese-speaking man wondered whether English should take precedence over Maltese in the education of young Maltese students.
“I don’t know if you agree with me, but it makes more sense to start teaching our children English before Maltese,” the man said
“At work, I’ve started using English instead of Maltese – you might ask me why? Obviously, it’s because there are moments when we will be five foreigners and myself as the only Maltese, when before we were all Maltese – I had to stop and buy recently and spoke in English there as well. This means that with time, you could say that Maltese will become obsolete,” he continued.
“Malta is not what it was. Malta has become Cosmopolitan.”
People reacted strongly to the post, with some seeing his point, but many feeling like Maltese students should learn Maltese first
“Post tal-ħatab fuq in-nar”
“As much as I appreciate the discussion, a post like this (and the thoughts behind it) are worrying. A Maltese person should be raised and taught in his own language first and foremost, language is the history and the culture of a nation. That you speak your language is a sign of continuity and preservation,” one person responded.
But some people saw the original poster’s point
“You have a point, there’s a lot of 14 to 15-year-olds that don’t even know how to speak English well. It’s not only that foreigners will think we are idiots, it’s that in the future they’ll suffer as you pointed out because everything is in English now,” said another responder.
“I agree that the Maltese language is important for culture and whatnot, but with English we can learn about what’s happening around us. English is a part of our culture as well as our language. If you want to be a patriot on one thing, become a patriot for something else,” he continued.
It all got a bit confusing when people started defending using Maltese… in English
Language remains a sore point for many in Malta
Maltese starlet Emma Muscat was heavily criticised for speaking in English and Italian, and some English-speakers still feel ostracised speaking in English in front of certain groups.
In Malta, most students learn English and Maltese in their primary and secondary education, and according to a Eurobarometer poll conducted in 2012, 98% of Maltese people can speak Maltese, 88% can speak English, 66% can speak Italian, and more than 17% speak French.