Television programmes as a resource for teaching Italian

Sandro Caruana

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The island of Malta offers an ideal setting to investigate the extent to which the linguistic input from the media may be significant in second language (L2) acquisition. Although Italian is not spoken in Malta, many individuals are exposed to this language via the media as Italian television programmes are popular on the island. In this article the extent to which Italian may be acquired via the media is discussed by taking into account research carried out among guided and spontaneous learners of Italian L2. Despite the unidirectional nature of television and the absence of the possibility to interact and negotiate so as to modify or simplify the L2 input, results show that L2 input from Italian television programmes in Malta may help to learn the language, even in the case of learners who have never undergone formal instruction in the L2. This, inevitably, has repercussions on the teaching of Italian as illustrated in the concluding section of this paper.

University Continuing Education In Malta

Peter Mayo

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This paper traces some of the most important developments in the history of University Continuing Education (UCE) at the University of Malta. It relies on material derived from relevant University files and from interviews with people who were involved, as organisers, teachers or students, in different UCE projects. The paper identifies the forces that influenced the various developments in UCE, attaching importance to the significant roles played by trade unions (including the teachers’ union), the Church, the academic body and different government administrations in this regard. The analysis, starting from the post-war period, targets UCE initiatives during the 60s and 70s and contemporary provision. The concluding part of the paper consists of an exploration of options for future policy in the area, where the focus is primarily on issues concerning student funding, status of evening degrees, access, distance education and the role of UCE in revitalizing the public sphere.

Exposure To Language: Its Role In Exams

Ms Claudia Caruana Anastasi

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A total of fifty-six Mathematics and English Language lessons, conducted in four 6 A classes were observed. The Maltese words in the ‘Mixed Maltese English’ variety used by the teachers were recorded, counted and converted into time. The data describing the exposure to spoken language was crosstabulated with the Mathematics and English Junior Lyceum Exam Results. By administering a questionnaire, information was gathered about other variables that expose children to English outside school. A moderate positive relationship between results and language use has been established for Maths. Some children who were exposed to more English, obtained better grades in the English language exam. The value of this statistical measure is slightly higher than that in Maths. A substantially strong positive relationship between the children’s performance in the mathematics exam and their performance in the English language exam is evident. The research findings also highlight ‘how’ and attempts to find reasons ‘why’ code switching is adopted.

Developing Algebraic Notation Through Number Patterns

Cettina Axiak

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All the mathematics teachers in a Maltese secondary school were involved in setting and correcting a task involving the use of algebraic symbolization to describe number patterns in a number of their classes. A focus interview was carried out with the teachers some time after this experience. As a group, the teachers identified some very well documented difficulties that students have with the use of letters in Algebra. The work also shows that tasks of the type investigated provide teachers with contexts that they may utilize to help students make some entry points into using letters as generalized number.

Politics, Religion and Education in Nineteenth Century Malta

George Cassar

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Malta became a British colony in 1800 and its function was that of a fortress within an imperial network. This influenced all that happened in the colony along the nineteenth century. Not least affected was the sphere of education where a main feature of Anglicisation was the forceful attempt to change Malta’s everyday school language from Italian to English. This was no easy task as the Maltese pro-Italian party, the Nationalists, made every effort to impede and overturn any such British attempt. To add to the tension, the British were religiously Protestant and this clashed with the sentiments of the predominantly Roman Catholic native population. Thus the vigilant Catholic Church viewed with suspicion all that was attempted in education by the colonial Government. There was a continuous concern that the British would use schools to convert the Maltese to Protestantism. In such an atmosphere life in schools was by no means easygoing. Teachers bore the brunt of contrasts and concerns without having the space to show their distress.

Maltese Secondary School Heads In The Making

Christopher G. Bezzina, Vincent Cassar

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The key purpose of this paper is to present the findings of the Maltese study which is part of a collective research project involving four island states: Cyprus, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malta. The views and perspectives that a small group of secondary school heads bring to their life and work are outlined. The study adopts a biographical/portrait-based approach to understanding headship and thus provides us with new insights into the growing literature in the field. As such the paper briefly explores the career paths of the heads interviewed and focuses on the first two stages of their personal and professional lives – formation and accession. The views of heads are represented and the issues and concerns identified with leading schools in times of change are outlined. The study shows that family, family experiences and the community have an important part to play in influencing the lives of prospective leaders. The study also highlights the link between vicarious learning, continuous professional development and personal reflection.

The Setting Up of the University of Malta Junior College: Origins, Motives and Polemics

Michael A. Buhagiar

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The Junior College of the University of Malta is the foremost sixth form institution on the Island. Specifically set up in 1995 to initiate students upon completion of their secondary schooling in methods of study appropriate to tertiary education, the College was born out of a generally recognised need to reform the local pre-university sector. However, although most people agreed on the existence of a general malaise suffocating this sector, not everyone concurred that a sixth form college administered by the University would provide the necessary cure. The present paper, which focuses primarily on the setting up of the College, sets out to trace its short yet colourful story. Right from its inception to the present days, the College’s existence has been shrouded in much bickering and polemics. Now is probably the time to take a less emotive look at these past and present events, and to plan ahead.

Inclusive Schools: A Challenge For Developing An Inclusive European Society

Paul A. Bartolo

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This paper was presented at a dialogue workshop on ‘Education, Inequalities and Social Exclusion’ organised by the European Commission, DG Research, directorate for research in the social sciences and humanities, Brussels, 26& 27 September 2002.