Knowledge of Maltese will greatly improve your experience on the island. Though English is widely spoken and is used for formal conversations and legal documentation, it is often viewed as “snobbery” by the locals.
Maltese is spoken between residents on a daily basis and is the main language used for everyday colloquial chat. There are many ways to learn Maltese. You can learn it before travelling to Malta or whilst you are on the island.
How difficult is it to learn Maltese?
Maltese can be difficult to learn if you do not have any prior knowledge of Arabic languages. However it is transcribed in the Latin alphabet which makes it slightly easier for westerners.
With practice and by using Maltese as much as possible, you will pick it up quickly. The best way is to plunge yourself into the culture. Read books, talk to waiters, taxi drivers etc. listen to Maltese radio stations and watch Maltese TV. Living with a host family for a few months is a great option as you will constantly be surrounded by the language and will be forced to use it.
Are there special schools for learning Maltese?
Maltese courses are available in many schools in Malta. Most classes do not exceed fifteen pupils. The prices of language classes vary but be aware that a high price does not equate to a good quality of teaching.
It is advised you choose your course from a respected source, such as the university. Lessons can be tailored to suit your needs and availability i.e. you can enrol in night classes if you work during the day. Intensive courses and one-on-one lessons are also available. You can apply for language courses through the internet, classified sections of newspapers or at the university. The University of Malta offers free language classes for students.
Other ways of learning Maltese
You can also learn Maltese with a learning pack for personal use. The advantage of home learning is that you can study at your own pace and the price will be considerably cheaper than language schools and private classes.
Maltese language CDs help improve your listening and pronunciation skills and can be bought online or from book stores. Watching Maltese television is also a great and cheap way to get used to the language, as you will hear people talking fast and naturally.