The Malta Independent 22 August 2019, Thursday

Want to learn English? Come to Malta

Malta Independent Thursday, 13 March 2014, 09:46 Last update: about 6 years ago

Up to 60 international agents for foreign language students were given a true taste of what the Maltese Islands are all about and the high level of teaching offered by some 40 English Language schools in Malta and Gozo.

The agents, from countries such as Norway, Japan and the Czech Republic attended a conference organised by the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations in Malta (FELTOM) where they were given the chance to meet up and close with representatives from these schools and were also taken around the islands. The Malta Independent spoke to a number of agents and asked them why Malta is among their clients’ favourite destinations.

Dr Karel Klusák, managing director of Czech agency Intact, told this paper that the agency has been sending students to Malta for the past 20 years. “The UK is the top destination for obvious reasons but Malta holds the number two spot. Czechs love Malta because of its great climate and the excellent choice of schools that can cater for all kinds of client.”

Dr  Klusák says that more Czech students would like to visit Malta each year to study English, but accessibility needs to be improved. “We need more seats and more flights to Malta because agencies sometimes do not find tickets and their clients have to spend more money to fly via Germany or Austria. If there were more tickets available in the high season we would be able to send more students to Malta.”

Kanae Matsuoka, a Japanese agent, told this paper that the long distance between the two countries might discourage many young students but families could still be attracted to Malta. “Out of 1,000 students we sent abroad each year around 20 come to Malta. Students might be discouraged because of the long flights but I will definitely be sending some families in the future.”

A Norwegian agent, Birger Reinhardt Larsen, also commented on the high standard of Maltese schools and confirmed that some clients have expressed interest to study in Malta.

 

People only see the bad side of it, never the good

Feltom CEO Genevieve Abela said that the English teaching industry has unfortunately been getting some bad press but insisted that this tourism niche is as important to the economy as others. “83,000 students came to Malta in 2013 and only 20,000 came over during the summer. People tend to think that we only get unruly students who terrorise the streets of Paceville but the story is quite different. No one ever talks about the 60,000 others, many of whom are single adults, seniors or families with children. And all of them spend money in Malta during their stay.”

Ms Abela referred to a particular Venezuelan family that has been in Malta since January and will remain until November. “The parents are studying English in Malta to get better jobs and a better life for their young son. These are the stories no one speaks about.”

 

Lobbying for more routes, flights

Ms Abela explained that Feltom is an accreditation body for English language schools in Malta but also serves as a lobby group for the sector. “We are in constant discussions on accessibility with the government. New routes are the key because we know that every time a new route is launched up to 30% of passengers are students.”

Despite the public perception, English language schools do not really have a seasonality problem because they have clients all year round. “What we need are more routes in the shoulder months because adding routes and flights in summer will not help us much.” Ms Abela points out that the majority of students who come to Malta to learn English in the shoulder months are usually business or university students or adults.

The Feltom CEO described the conference as an important opportunity to market Malta as a destination of excellence for English teaching. “We have 50 to 60 new agencies every year, which means 50 to 60 new destinations every year. By bringing them over to Malta we are giving these agents a true taste of what we can offer and that is the best kind of marketing that one can do.”

 
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