Peppi Azzopardi, the host of TVM’s Xarabank, has released a video where he expresses concern over what he sees as a major problem in Malta: Maltese people growing up without learning English. The video comes after pop-starlet Emma Muscat appeared on Xarabank where her grasp of the Maltese language unleashed a deluge of hateful comments.
“We shouldn’t worry about Emma not knowing Maltese; we should be worried because there are so many Maltese youths that can’t speak in English,” he said.
“Now, you’re going to tell me ‘What kind of patriotism is this?’, but this is not a question of patriotism – this is a question of need. In Malta we need people who, first and foremost, speak in English.”
Malta has since been gripped in a emotional discussion about the importance of the island’s two official languages, Maltese and English – and it’s getting heated at times. Many Maltese people have said that Maltese people in Malta should speak in Maltese, but many others have fired back, saying that people should speak whatever language they feel most comfortable with.
‘Instead of worrying that Emma doesn’t know enough Maltese, let’s worry for real about how many Maltese teens don’t know English’
In the video, Peppi Azzopardi points out that the English language is essential nowadays for people living in Malta. He says that oftentimes, interviews are conducted in English in Malta, and wonders what someone who can’t speak English would do in that situation. Similarly, he spoke of Maltese students who are proficient in mathematics, but run into problems reading the questions during exams purely due to English.
“Do you know that nowadays a lot of interviews are held in English? Do you think they’ll employ you because you can point to the ‘għ’ and the ‘h’? As if,” he says.
He also points out how discriminatory it is to hold it against someone who speaks English just because that’s how they were raised or grew up.
He even proposed a radical idea for balancing out the language deficit
To combat the effects of Maltese children growing up rarely hearing English in their personal lives, or given a chance to practice and speak in English, Peppi has proposed an innovative idea.
“What I’m suggesting, and as far as I know the Minister for Education Evarist Bartolo agrees with me, is that lessons in schools – every lesson, apart from Maltese and Religion – should be held in English. Why? Because there’s discrimination happening in Malta. You have those students who’s parents speak to them in English, and then they go to school and the teachers speak to them in Maltese, and they learn Maltese. But what of the students who’s parents don’t know a word in English?” he asked.