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Public primary schools teaching in English?

Hi all,

I am new to this forum, and looking to move to Malta in 2014. I have a 5 year old son who is currently attending Junior infants here in Ireland, and was wondering if there is any public school in Malta that would teach in English. My understanding is that only private schools teach in English, and this would be the primary choice for expats, am I correct? Any feedback would be much appreciated! Thanks!

Hi romina76,

Welcome to Expat.com! :)

You can also view others topic on Schools & Studies in Malta forum.

Thank you.
Christine

My daughter is aged 5, and her first and only language (so far) is English. She is in a Government school in Sliema, called St Clares College. For now, her class is taught in English and Maltese. She cliams that more or less everything is said in 2 languages. There are 14 children in her class and 6 of them are 'foreigners'. I dont know about any other Government schools in Malta though.

Hi Damsel, apologies if I reply only now, but I am back at work full time now and with the children the time to be on the internet is limited...thanks for the feedback, I checked St Clares College and I will probably pay a visit in June. I have contacted all the main private schools in Malta, but if you say your son is happy out in a Government school, that's encouraging! Do you have to pay any fee in St Clares?

my son attends Marsascala primary and like some other places in malta Marsascala has lots of expats so he knows lots of children who speak English. Teachers were very understanding about him speaking English when he started at 3, but they have encouraged him to speak in and learn in maltese as well, which has helped as at home it's all English, but he speaks to his Maltese friends in Maltese and even likes to act big in front of me by speaking to staff in shops etc in Maltese, so they did help and now it's not a problem. He can talk in Maltese because he knows sometimes he needs to going to a public school, he just still prefers to speak in English lol

Hi Bex, thanks for your feedback! That's what we want for our son too, but at least as a start we would like to get him into a school where lessons are also in English...and if all turns out as planned and we end up staying in Malta for a long term period, he will have to learn Maltese too (and we would try our best to learn the language too!!) :)

well to be honest, I'm half maltese half English, and ending up settling out here now for the past 9 years, and when i was young and went to a very maltese school here i spoke maltese (I found it hard as was eleven and couldn't do half of the exams, and had the lessons explained to me in ten minute capsules, and was learning maltese from meetings with a nun working from the local prison! lol), but then going back and forth between the two countries and it kind of just dropped off you know, and now I'm just lazy i think and just stick with my English lol but they just seem to find it so easy to pick up when they're little. He got alot of help from his paid for nursery when he was really small, even with them singing the songs in English and then in Maltese, but I can understand where you're comming from, it's not easy on them having a new language to cope with as well if they haven't always grown up with it there. I just wanted to say that there are alot of English speaking kids even in his public school, incase you had to opt for that, and the teachers are very understanding of it, cos Malta has so many non-maltese speakers, it's nothing unusual. it also makes a big difference what location you are planning on, cos yeah places like Sliema, Marsascala, Bugibba etc will have loads of expats so schools will be used to it.
Good luck with your move anyway, I have only joined expats recently, but great to meet new expat Mums over here, hope to hear you're doing well over here once you're all settled :)

Starting school in another EU country

As EU citizens, your children are entitled to attend school in any EU country under the same conditions as nationals of that country.
They have the right to be placed in a class with their own age group, at the equivalent level to their class in your country of origin – regardless of their language level.
If you are an EU national migrating to another EU country for work, your children are entitled under EU law to receive free language tuition in your new home country to help them adapt to the school system there...................................................'
Source: http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/ed … dex_en.htm

Hi Romina - I saw your post and wondered if you moved and what you chose to do with the school issue as we are in a very similar boat. We are moving over to Malta next year and my boy will be turning 5 when we do and I'm sure what path to take with schools...public (which would open up Gozo as a location to live in) or private in Malta.
Any info you can share would be great.

Thanks,

Caz

Anyone have children that are older moving to Malta? Am really concerned that they only speak English and will have difficulty. My husband may be getting a job there and want to prepare them before we go. They are 10 and 12.

CSenouillet :

Anyone have children that are older moving to Malta? Am really concerned that they only speak English and will have difficulty. My husband may be getting a job there and want to prepare them before we go. They are 10 and 12.

Hi, they will have no problem with the language. Check other threads on here... Try 'Best place for ex-pats to live' and 'fitting into secondary schools'

Hi really hope you can help - have been reading the forums and there's more information on here than Wikipedia!! My 8yr old daughter and I are moving to Marsascala on 16th October to the Belle Vista area.  We've been visiting 2/3 times a year for past 5 years visiting family and we did a long term stay on our own in the summer to see how we'd cope.  I've pretty much sorted everything except the school. When I've visited marsascala primary they were either on holiday or they were doing their sats so no visitors allowed.  I'm not sure when they go back to school and the email address the local council gave me comes back undeliverable.  Is anybody out there that could help with this please?
Many thanks
Alison

Pupils went back to school this week. One issue here is that websites are not maintained so a lot of information on them is way out of date. Have you tried here, look at list of schools etc . Maybe contact the Ministry if no luck?

https://www.gov.mt/en/Services-And-Info … ation.aspx

Great thanks - at least I know there back at school now.

Thanks again

AlyDimmick my daughter goes to marsascala and she is nine.
They teach in Maltese and in English. It's her second year and to be honest is finding it difficult.

Hi Lisa

Thank you so much for replying - how do you find the school in general?  I'm sorry if I bombard you with questions but you're the first person I've actually spoken to with a child there! I understand that they teach in Maltese with blocks translated into English - is that right?  I know I may be running ahead of myself but do they have to take an exam in Maltese and what happens if they don't do it. The exam they sit at 11 is that in English or Maltese (sats/11+). Are there many English children and how are they treated as expats? I phoned the school to ask some questions and the lady made me think that my daughter would have to be interviewed and apply for a place but not guaranteed to be accepted. I asked about the uniform (hoping to use some of the skirts I've already bought) but all she would say is if she was fortunate enough to be accepted they would give me a list of what to buy and where?  What does the uniform consist of? What is the headmaster like and do they have many problems with bullying or bad behaviour? I'm really sorry to ask all this of you but I just want to make the transition as smooth as possible.  If you're daughter continues to find it difficult what will you do?  I understand private schools speak in English but don't know of any near marsascala or any that I could afford lol!! Thank you so much x

My 12y daughter just started school in Pembroke secondary. Today they gave children the books. Only English, German and Science books are not in Maltese. Other ... we can't even figure out what is the subject. Google translatoe also didn't. Almost all the teachers speak only Maltese in classes. Of course my daughter doesn't understand a single word and nobody cares. There are many foreign children in same situation. It's a big disappointment and I feel it's waste of time being here. The child will learn nothing. The education level here is very low anyway, and with learning in Maltese only, the result will be zero.

Hi Izabela thanks for replying - sorry to hear you're not having much luck either! I read somewhere that all eu had a right to an education in any country with assistance on the language. Doesn't sound like Malta gave got this message yet! Is Pembroke a private or public school and is this her first year in Maltese school?

Thank you so much
Alison

Malta has not got the message of being in the EU because it positively resists being in the EU!! Except to take EU money.

I'm beginning to see that lol!

If you are planning on staying here for good/some time then your children have to learn Maltese. They will not get passed secondary school without it and they are clamping down more now due to further education being free right up to post graduate, meaning that anyone from the EU can come over and learn for free, so they are asking for basic Maltese qualifications.

What EU language do you think they should translate all their lessons to? Do all other EU schools translate their lessons into every EU language? Somehow I don't think they do and at least in Malta there are lessons taught in English as the norm.

Malta provides extra lessons in English and Maltese for those that don't speak the languages in school hours...What more can they do? This is a foreign country, with a foreign language!

coxf0001 :

If you are planning on staying here for good/some time then your children have to learn Maltese. They will not get passed secondary school without it and they are clamping down more now due to further education being free right up to post graduate, meaning that anyone from the EU can come over and learn for free, so they are asking for basic Maltese qualifications.

What EU language do you think they should translate all their lessons to? Do all other EU schools translate their lessons into every EU language? Somehow I don't think they do and at least in Malta there are lessons taught in English as the norm.

Malta provides extra lessons in English and Maltese for those that don't speak the languages in school hours...What more can they do? This is a foreign country, with a foreign language!

The thing is that they do not teach children in English. If child doesn't speak Maltese, then the child will learn nothing about Geography, History, etc. Foreigners have right to refuse Maltese language classes, but other important subjects are in Maltese, as well as books. Malta is bilingual country. In their Constitution is stated that English and Maltese are official languages. My child speaks English but it doesn't help a lot. They obviously want to speak Maltese. And believe me, they don't provide any extra lessons.

One of the main reasons to come here is English. If we knew that our child will learn everything in a new language, we would go in Germany, Denmark, Norway ... lol!   

Alison, it's government school and this is her first year in Malta. :)

My children have always had extra lessons in Maltese (10 years now.) In secondary school, yes geography, religion and Maltese history is in Maltese. Science, Maths, English, foreign languages, computer science, design and technology, home economics etc are not taught in Maltese, the books are all in English. From what I can gather, it's only been a week she has been in school. She'll pick the language up.
What makes you think the education is so low?

Hi I have every intention in both my daughter & I learning Maltese in fact we have started in the basics.  My concern was that she would go into a class that spoke no English whatsoever not even to explain what she had to do.  We have Polish and French children in our school and they are assisted with basic lesson plans in their language.  I'm not looking for easy life or shortcuts but I would like to make her transition to the country & school as smooth as possible.

With regard to level of education I am under the impression that there is actually a high level of education with a lot of focus on homework which I'm all for.

AlyDimmick :

Hi I have every intention in both my daughter & I learning Maltese in fact we have started in the basics.  My concern was that she would go into a class that spoke no English whatsoever not even to explain what she had to do.  We have Polish and French children in our school and they are assisted with basic lesson plans in their language.  I'm not looking for easy life or shortcuts but I would like to make her transition to the country & school as smooth as possible.

With regard to level of education I am under the impression that there is actually a high level of education with a lot of focus on homework which I'm all for.

Well done on starting the language. They do have a habit of speaking in Maltese. While they do speak both languages, most children are spoken to in Maltese in the household so, for all the Maltese children, especially in primary, Maltese is their preferred language. My children just ask what to do if it's said in Maltese. They tried the excuse of saying that they don't understand but not for long, they ask the teacher or friends. The more the kids ask, the more likely it will be said in English too.

In the early days, I remember chasing Maltese friends to help with their homework. I had to go out of my way but if you want your children to learn then some effort needs to be done until they learn the language.

I have always thought the level of education is good here, it's well disciplined too.

Edit; St Paul's Bay school has over 20 different nationalities...I don't think they could translate in all the languages?!

coxf0001 :

the books are all in English. From what I can gather, it's only been a week she has been in school. She'll pick the language up.
What makes you think the education is so low?

I can see what they learn. 
I already said that only three of the books are not in Maltese - Science, English and German.

Izabela P :
coxf0001 :

the books are all in English. From what I can gather, it's only been a week she has been in school. She'll pick the language up.
What makes you think the education is so low?

I can see what they learn. 
I already said that only three of the books are not in Maltese - Science, English and German.

Maths books are in Maltese??

I lived in Turkey for a while and asked people to speak to me in Turkish and I learnt from listening before speakng - the written took a little longer lol!!  I want to put as much commitment & focus on her duration as we do in the uk.  She already speaks a few phrases and counts in Spanish, German, French and Korean and got frustrated when we were over in Malta for the six wks when the kids she played spoke so quickly she didn't get chance to understand until she asked them to teach her then it became a game!! Just need to figure out which school lol. Thanks for your help

There are government 'after school clubs' with qualified teachers for homework. There are also private homework clubs and extra lessons in most subjects with private tutors.

In previous years, the after school club at school has translated all of their social studies (in Maltese) for exam revision.

coxf0001 :

Maths books are in Maltese??

No Maths book for now. Hope they will provide it soon.

It is not just Malta that causes issues regarding teaching and examining in English. My granddaughter went to what was stated as being a bilingual school in Wales. It was not bilingual, it was indoctrination through intimidation. Last year all her exams were presented in Welsh. Any child heard speaking English, in their own time at school, was punished with detention. Hymns were played over the school broadcast system during non lesson times - in Welsh. She was removed and now attends another but this time truly bilingual school and is flourishing. In fact doing better than anyone could expect. She could speak Welsh before she went to the previous school but as it is not her first language (though born and living in Wales) there were difficulties in learning especially in the more technical subjects, which is always to be considered in any subject with its own specialist terminology and which, therefore do not translate as easily as others.

redmik :

It is not just Malta that causes issues regarding teaching and examining in English. My granddaughter went to what was stated as being a bilingual school in Wales. It was not bilingual, it was indoctrination through intimidation. Last year all her exams were presented in Welsh. Any child heard speaking English, in their own time at school, was punished with detention. Hymns were played over the school broadcast system during non lesson times - in Welsh. She was removed and now attends another but this time truly bilingual school and is flourishing. In fact doing better than anyone could expect. She could speak Welsh before she went to the previous school but as it is not her first language (though born and living in Wales) there were difficulties in learning especially in the more technical subjects, which is always to be considered in any subject with its own specialist terminology and which, therefore do not translate as easily as others.

So Malta is not that bad then  ;)

Hi,  :)
My eight year old son has just enrolled in Mosta primary, year 4 and is struggling to be honest.
On the plus side, his teacher seems nice and caring (and the behaviour seems good) but she told me that she only speaks English during English and Maths lessons. The main classroom language is Maltese, all instructions are given in Maltese and I have had to provide work and reading books for him for the lessons that are in Maltese. There are four other foreigners in the class but they have been deliberately split up - to aid integration, I presume. My Son is a shy chap and is dyspraxic/dyslexic and is finding the work load high and self organising a struggle as often the teacher forgets to translate instructions  ( he says she is too busy for hands up).
He does get extra Maltese lessons but so far these seem to be lists of modes of transport, not classroom vocab, which would have been more useful!!
The homework is also waaaayyy more than under the UK system, eight pages last night and that was less than the bi-lingual kids who would have had Maltese language stuff aswell. The academic level itself is a bit lower than he would have been studying but the volume is just massive. I have been trying to catch the teacher for a chat but they leave at the same time as the kids - so we are still working on it!
My daughter has started Kindergarten which is very different aswell. FAR more pescriptive and teacher led. There seems to be little or no free choice and an early start to rphonics and writing. She is not allowed to go to the toilet when she wants to either. However, again, her teacher is a lovely woman.

So generally speaking, the staff all seem good, the system is just really old fashioned and work heavy which I don't think is neccesarily the same thing as being of a high standard. It is not the most parent friendly system either.For instance, a very strict uniform but of poor quality, overpriced and only available in two shops. An endless list of stationary but given in a list in Maltese. I totally accept that school budgets may not cover stationary but surely a more inclusive way of dealing with this would be to provide what the children need and then bill the parents?
Ho-hum.
Hopefully it will settle soon, I have been told that the expat kids get a three year stay of execution from the Maltese exams. Can anyone confirm that?..................

coxf0001 :

So Malta is not that bad then  ;)

Not when compared to that system. And, I also think some people expect too much of Malta when they arrive.
Personally (and I know there are some benefits and academic education is not everything) I think a child's academic education is too valuable to add on the extra burdens of receiving it out here. It does of course depend upon the individual child, their age, stage of development and ability. Plus of course, how much support the parents can give their to their children's learning.

I have been here 10 years, my children have not been to UK schools. While I totally agree with you Vicky and Waka about the uniforms, it is a great improvement from before!! The stationary is a nightmare and has cost me well over 200 for 3 kids this year, to me it is the norm and have nothing to compare with. So I guess what I am saying is, we are in a different country, with different way of doing things.
Your youngest will manage just fine, being in the system from the beginning :)

I've always recommended St. Paul's Bay school on here, simply because they cater more for the foreign kids and the transition seems easier for the children.

Thanks Cox for responding to my moan! The uniform and stationary are only a little issue - I know. And you are right that my daughter will be fine. She is an outgoing little soul and while the system isn't what I am used to (I am a primary school teacher - so that is clouding my judgement too!) I do believe that a caring teacher makes all the difference.
It is mainly my son that is a worry. His teacher had never heard about dyspraxia.......... We have heard good things about St Pauls but Mosta seems a good school in lots of ways............Are yours at St Pauls?
Vicky :)

I can understand your frustrations as you are a teacher lol!

I am studying a degree in dental hygiene and I am learning that there are small pockets of people, that go out of their way to keep up with current problems/disorders etc. It is taught, to research and keep up to date (and I'm talking about all fields of further education) but something gets lost after qualifying and I think it is 'further up the chain' that doesn't encourage/ organise further education in their field, which is a shame. I know of a couple of organisations, ran by parents, who try desperately to improve teacher's awareness of learning disorders (sorry, I don't know if I am politically correct in my terminology?!) but that's what it comes down to, lobbying and fighting for your cause!
I kinda look at Malta as being 20 years behind the Uk in all of these things. Sometimes it is the reason you are here, others it's just damn frustrating lol!

My children do go to St. Paul's and now my eldest is in Naxxar middle. I've had administration problems but as far as language goes it's been fine. They went to Santa Venra school for a year, that was a different ball game. It was taught all in Maltese and my eldest was put back a year because of it. I also feel that St. Paul's is not quite the same standard of education as other schools but I feel, from my experience, that it is compensated by their way of helping non Maltese speakers.

We moved to Malta a month ago after living in Spain for 10 years we are a British family and I have 3 children who all started in government school last week, an 8 year old in year 5 at pembroke, a 10 year old in form 1 in pembroke secondary and my eldest in form 5 in Gzira, I was very worried when they first started particularly for my son as he has to take his O levels next year but I have to say all 3 are very happy, English is very widely spoken in both Pembroke schools and both my daughters are having no problems understanding the work in fact the school work is much easier than in Spain they are both covering work now that they did 2 years ago at school, in Pembroke juniors there is no extra help in Maltese for foreigners but my daughter already knows the alphabet, can count to ten and say a couple of sentences, as I work I also have her in klabb 3-16 after school so she does her homework there. In pembroke secondary they do offer maltese for foreigners and my middle daughter is enjoying starting to learn the language. I have private lessons for my son as his school is very maltese with only a few foreigners he is in fact the only English person in the school, he does struggle a little at break times as all the boys speak to each other in Maltese but he seems happy enough and he is doing very well in class in fact the head called me last week to say from this week they would be putting him in the top class as he is very advanced and they expect him to do very well in his o levels!
I suppose it all depends on the child all mine are very confident and are used to being taught in a foreign language so I suppose that may help a bit, I'm sure there will be a few ups and downs but so far so good!!!!

That's great news Izzybenjaz, you must be relieved as I remember your concerns before arriving. I hope it carries on to be good :)

Good news  Izzybenjaz! And thanks again Cox. I will keep St Pauls in mind if things don't settle down by christmas...... I think this
'I kinda look at Malta as being 20 years behind the Uk in all of these things. Sometimes it is the reason you are here, others it's just damn frustrating lol! ' sums it up perfectly! This is just a system that works better for some kids than others.

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