Living Languages campaign to promote value of foreign languages launched

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo said it was possible for one to love his own language without hating others

Living Languages aims to promote the use of foreign languages and to inform the population on the benefits of such skills to their career progression
Living Languages aims to promote the use of foreign languages and to inform the population on the benefits of such skills to their career progression

A campaign looking to promote the use of foreign languages and the opportunities made available through such skills was launched on Tuesday morning at the Education Ministry.

Living Languages, seeks to promote the value of learning foreign languages, including their importance as a communication tool for mobility and employability, and as a means of understanding different cultures. 

As part of its campaign Living Languages also launched two competitions that will be open to local students.

The first is a T-shirt competition where students will be asked to send their designs for a logo that will be placed on the campaigns official T-shirt. This competition will be open to students in primary, middle and secondary schools.

The second competition will see students at middle, secondary and post-secondary levels of education submit a short film promoting the use of foreign languages.

Students will he asked to team and come up with their own script, direct and act in the film.

Competition winners will have their film professionally remade.

Addressing the launch, Education Minister Evarist Bartolo stressed the value in being able to speak more than one language, both in terms of employability as well as with respect to one’s intellectual development.

Quoting Malta’s national poet Dun Karm Psaila, Bartolo insisted that it was possible to love one’s language without hating others. He said this was particularly relevant in today’s often xenophobic climate.

Bartolo said Malta had always been a melting pot of different languages, adding that more languages were spoken in Malta’s schools and workplaces today than ever before.  

The minister went on to say that the country still wasn’t doing enough to promote the learning of foreign languages, adding that this was especially true at Sixth Form level.

Academic Mario Pace said parents often didn’t consider how knowledge of a foreign language could help their children’s academic and professional careers. He stressed that language skills were becoming essential to a wide range of professions, both because of local companies were encountering more foreign languages in their daily operation.

A working knowledge of a foreign language could also allow some employees to make the most of opportunities for career progression abroad.

The organisation, he said, had over the years worked with a number of schools and organisations, adding that it regularly held meetings with the employers in order to ascertain what industry’s language requirements were.

Pace stressed the need for more practical and hands on courses.

In fact, according to statistics quoted during the launch 25% of employers consider foreign language skills to be an asset, while 28% consider them to be among those skills in need of improvement.

Phyllisienne Vassallo Gauci from Living Languages pointed out that similar initiatives were also being implemented in various other countries around the world, including the UK and US

She pointed to two campaigns in UK and US, adding that they were particularly relevant given that they were being promoted in English-speaking countries where one might think that it is not necessary to know foreign languages.