Only 150 sixth form students studying foreign languages

Education minister: 'We must not allow language learners and teachers to become an endangered species'

Only around 150 post-secondary students are studying foreign languages as one of their five optional subjects
Only around 150 post-secondary students are studying foreign languages as one of their five optional subjects

Education minister Evarist Bartolo has sounded concern at the low rate of sixth form students who opt for a foreign language as one of their subjects.

Addressing a press conference held to launch this year's Junior College prospectus, Bartolo said that only around 150 post-secondary students are studying foreign languages as one of their five optional subjects. In one particular sixth form, only one student is currently studying Italian.

"The situation is worrying, and we must make sure that language learners and language teachers don’t become an endangered species," he said. "As important as English is as a global language, other languages are also important. You could be a fully qualified doctor or engineer but then have to turn down a placement in Paris, Berlin or Madrid because you wouldn't know the language."

Bartolo hailed a recent pilot project by the Malta Classics Association that is teaching Latin to Year 5 students outside school hours.

"The programme has been successful so far and parents are also engaging in the classes," he said.

Bartolo also said that humanities subjects, such as classical studies, must be taught more intently throughout earlier education.

"We have grown used to the idea that education is equivalent to employability, but the values taught in the humanities are also important."

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