The Malta Independent 24 March 2019, Sunday

Bartolo confirms foreigners will be obliged to learn Maltese as a foreign language

Rebecca Iversen Tuesday, 20 March 2018, 20:24 Last update: about 2 years ago

The Minister for Education Evarist Bartalo confirmed this evening that foreigners will be obliged to learn Maltese as a foreign language. 

Replying to a question by PL Whip Byron Camilleri, Bartolo stated that Maltese as foreign language will only be offered to those who were not born in Malta or did not grow up here.

The proposal which was announced last week caused some controversy with many feeling that the decision would further lower the levels of the Maltese language. Last week this newsroom spoke to University Professor of Maltese Olvin Vella, who revealed the conflicting statements by the Ministry and MATSEC. Whilst MATSEC had proposed that Maltese as a foreign language would be open to all, the ministry had stated the qualification would only be offered to foreigners.


Bartolo stated that as a nation that was proud of its language, and wanted to strengthen it, then it is only right that foreigners living in Malta learn Maltese. Furthermore, he said that studies of European languages had found that Maltese was one of four languages that were most at risk.

"I think we must oblige them to learn Maltese, because I think that if they are living among us they should have respect for us and learn the language," he said.

"Everyone understands that people who were not born in the country and who aren't used to the language have to have it taught as a foreign language," Bartolo said.

The minister was also asked whether Maltese would still remain an entry requirement to the University of Malta, Bartolo responded that this was up to the university.

He added however that he believed Maltese needed to remain a requirement and should also be requirement for entry into MCAST and the Institute for Tourism Studies.

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