Senior Teacher of the English Language, Viečiūnai Basic School of Druskininkai Municipality
I have long been interested in Malta as an English speaking country where Maltese and English are the two official languages. In October 2012, I participated in a training course for teachers of English as a Foreign Language: “Practical Teaching Skills, Methodology and Bilingual Education” in Swieqi, Malta. The course was organized by the Link School of English and funded with support from the European Commission.
The main aims of the course were: to improve the participants’ knowledge of English teaching methodolgy; to present current researchin ELT methodology and reference materials; to introduce Malta’s culture, bilingual environment and historical heritage.
There were ten participants on the course who came from Poland, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Lithuania. We were accommodated in host families or hotels.
The course covered a variety of topics: teaching and learning environment; EFL teaching methodology; classroom language and teacher-student interaction; effective usage of teaching material; music in EFL classroom; error correction; vocabulary teaching principles and vocabulary games; teaching pronunciation; English in the classroom; English as an international language; teaching reading and listening; teaching speaking and writing. The course was provided by two local Maltese tutors who have a wealth of experience in the international EFL teaching industry.
The course participants observed EFL lessons at the Link School of English where international students of different ages and language levels come to develop their English skills. In the lessons, methodology differs from traditional English lessons – the main focus is on developing oral communication skills.
The course participants also visited a private school – St. Julian’s Sacred Heart Girls’ Catholic School where English is taught as a native language. The school is very big and has its own chapel and garden. Edith Saliba, an English and French teacher, gave us a lecture on bilingual education in Malta as well as a few English teaching tips. In Malta, in private and church schools, all subjects are taught in English, where as in public schools most subjects are taught in Maltese, except for English and other foreign languages.
The Link School of English involved the course participants in cultural-educational activities. We visited the capital city Valeta, which is included in UNESCO world heritage list, the oldest Maltese city Mdina, called The Silent City, the Marsaxlokk fish market where not only fish,but also Maltese confectionery and souvenirs are sold. We also got acquainted with the history of the neolithic temples of Hagar Quimand Mnajdra.
The course has helped me to enhance my English skills and my knowledge of current trends in EFL teaching methodolgy. It also has given me an opportunity to get to know Maltese cultural heritage and bilingual environment, as well as experience Maltese friendliness.