Vol. 9 no. 1 / June 2015 / Special Issue on Maltese Language Teaching

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Special Issue Articles

The design of a Maltese Literacy Programme for the Early Years

Rita Sammut

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This paper explains the process of developing a Maltese reading scheme which also involved the implementation of a teaching programme. The scheme is intended for five to six-year old children at Year One Primary school level, that is, at the stage when they are introduced to literacy. Until this project came into being there had never been any scientific studies that provided a sound linguistic basis for the development of reading schemes in Maltese. On the other hand, there were a couple of psycholinguistic investigations and classroom observation studies that gave us basic background information about the acquisition of literacy in Maltese. In the Maltese context this research study is unique and provides a road-map for the further elaboration of initial reading material. It brings together two fundamental strands: approaches to literacy; and the choice of vocabulary that is most suitable for this purpose. This article describes the linguistic spade work that was necessary for the structured build-up of syllabification, word and sentence reading, and illustrates the pedagogical approaches to literacy, such as storytelling and multi-sensory activities, all of them being an integral part of the reading programme.

Drama, Multiple Intelligences and Maltese Language Teaching in the Early Years

Daniella Micallef

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This article takes a close look at the role of drama in the classroom, used as a teaching tool and technique. The first part of the article distinguishes drama from theatre in order to clarify how drama is used as a pedagogical tool to enhance teaching across the curriculum. The next part focuses on the theory of multiple intelligences and illustrates how drama, in its great versatility, can enhance each of the intelligences. Then, the article takes a closer look at the use of drama in the teaching of Maltese in the Early Years. Two vignettes are presented and dissected in order to illustrate how drama techniques, and the understanding of multiple intelligences, come together in the classroom to enhance the educational experience of the learners.

The construction of a Maltese pedagogical grammar: a study of the noun

Melanie Ungaro

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This paper discusses the construction of a pedagogical grammar for the teaching of Maltese to native speakers. It illustrates some of the issues that arise in the process of syllabus design by focusing on the noun, and reviews the literature to illustrate differences between traditional and modern linguistics. Starting by taking a critical approach to the syllabus and textbooks of Maltese, it continues by reviewing the literature dealing with the noun as a part of speech. It explores how teaching the ‘noun’ can be made relevant to learners at a secondary level. This short study proposes a syllabus for the noun with a ‘spiral format construction’ for the first four years of Secondary level education. This study can act as a guide to teachers who wish to plan lessons taking into consideration scientifically sound linguistic criteria.

Exploring the acquisition of tense and aspect by adult foreign learners of Maltese

Antoinette Camilleri Grima

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This article describes an initial analysis of the acquisition of Maltese as a foreign language by adult learners. It specifically looks at four verbal tense and aspect forms. Three intermediate-to-advanced level learners were asked to carry out a set of tasks, and the resulting data was compared to that produced by three adult native speakers of Maltese. The main finding was that on production tasks (unanalysed knowledge) the most commonly used tense/aspect by foreign learners is the ‘imperfett’ (unrestricted habitual aspect) which native speakers (NSs) use only half as much as the foreign learners (NNSs). On the other hand, native speakers use the ‘perfett’ (past tense) twice as much as the foreign users of Maltese. Another interesting finding is that on tasks that require analysed knowledge the main difference between NSs and NNSs was that the NNSs had greater difficulty with the progressive and the restricted habitual, but did not show significant variability with regard to the ‘perfett’ and ‘imperfett’. Thus, the results indicate that (i) there is a difference in the performance of NNSs in quantity rather than quality with regard to the ‘perfett’ and ‘imperfett’; and (ii) that on tasks requiring analysed knowledge NNSs have difficulty with regard to the progressive and restricted habitual forms.

Creating a Maltese Register for Mathematics in Malta

Marie Therese Farrugia

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In Malta it is a common practice to use code-switching or mixing for the teaching and learning of mathematics. While this offers pedagogic benefits, some educators have argued in favour of using English throughout. It is less common for educators to argue that mathematics should be taught wholly in Maltese. In this paper, I take up this latter idea and discuss the creation of a standard Maltese mathematics register, which would be necessary for such a hypothetical context. Using Halliday’s (1978) definition of register, wherein he considers how grammar is used to express interpersonal, textual and ideational elements, I consider the availability of Maltese mathematical terminology that parallels English expression. I conclude that Maltese lends itself well to expressing mathematics, although some new nouns and verbs may need to be established. On the other hand, while the passive voice in English renders a mathematical text more ‘formal’, the restricted use of the passive voice in Maltese implies that this grammatical function may not be a key feature of formality. Finally I note the unavailability of some verbs in Maltese that in English are used when mathematics serves as its own context, and wherein mathematics is rendered an autonomous system devoid of real life contexts or human agency.

The use of ICT in the teaching of Maltese and teachers’ concerns

Paul Gatt

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The importance of technology in education has increased enormously in recent years. As a result of the ongoing developments in ICT both teaching and learning are being transformed. This article starts by giving a brief overview of the main advantages of ICT in teaching a language. It then outlines the milestones in the introduction of ICT in Maltese state schools, which include the distribution of laptops to all teachers, the installation of interactive whiteboards and the introduction of a virtual learning environment that connects all primary and secondary state schools into one virtual network. Then, this article identifies the most popular ICT resources and makes reference to the ones that are more easily accessible by the teachers of Maltese. However, the implementation of ICT in schools has not come about without difficulty. The article discusses the local teachers’ concerns related to the introduction and use of ICT in the classroom. Finally, some practical suggestions are put forward with the aim of making the use of ICT in the local educational sector more successful and beneficial in the educational process.

Articles

Stimulating Teachers’ Continuous Professional Development in the Netherlands

Liesje Reynders, Marjan Vermeulen, Joseph Kessels, Karel Kreijns

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Planned Continuous Professional Development (CPD) in the past and current international initiatves are frequently based on an implicit deficiency assumption or gap-based model. This study answered the research question “To what extent can teachers be triggered to participate in CPD following a sequential, gap-based model and what is the relation with personal and psychological factors?” Specifically, the influence of personal and psychological factors on three phases of teacher CPD according to the I-Change model (awareness of the need for CPD, motivation to take part in CPD and taking action) was studied. The analysis of 119 questionnaires showed that not all teachers participate in all three phases. Surprisingly, few teachers had a performance gap and even a smaller number had the motivation to improve. The results showed that teachers with high scores on Core Self Evaluations (CSE) were less likely to become aware of or formulate a CPD goal than teachers with lower CSE scores.

Professional Development of Teachers at Malta’s Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School: Contributions from a Stake-Holding Think Tank

Maria Brown, Phyllisienne Gauci, Angele Pulis, Roberta Scerri, Claudia Vella

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This paper synthesises a group of educators’ engagement with an action research project endorsed by the Council of Europe’s Pestalozzi Programme’s Action Research Group 2013 – 2014. Educators fulfilling duties at Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School (GCHSS) collaborated within the context of a think-tank by engaging in action research on professional development for teachers at Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School (PDGCHSS). Data that emerged from the foregoing research indicate that professional development (PD) should be grounded in, and not disconnected from, the school-context, and must be relevant to the teachers’ everyday teaching. In addition, knowledge gained from PD training should not be sporadic or disconnected, but transferable to everyday practice. A highly bureaucratized system and lack of resources, such as time, financial resources and technological skills, are detrimental to teachers’ motivation for PD.

Commentary

Communities, Values and the “New” Museology at MuŻA: A reply to Sandro Debono’s “’MuŻA – Rethinking National Art Museums and the values of community curation’”

John Grech

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There is no abstract available for this article.