April 2009 issue

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St Julian’s and Sliema

Malta’s warm Mediterranean climate beckons students to go and study English in the sunshine. Blue sea, clear skies and a laid-back vibe are the perfect way to ease students into language learning abroad. Nicola Hancox takes a tour of two main coastal resorts.

The island itself is a great place to explore,” notes Sandra Attard-Montalto, Director of Studies at Bell Malta Language Centre in St Julian’s. “It’s got history, a Mediterranean culture which is warm and welcoming, a good climate, nightlife, a range of sports and activities and some great walks for those who want to go off the beaten track,” she says. Positioned just off of the coast of Sicily, Malta is perhaps one of the Mediterranean’s best kept secrets and students who wish to avoid bigger English speaking destinations such as the USA and the UK will find a more relaxed approach to both life and study here. The towns of St Julian’s and Sliema hug a coastal inlet on the eastern side of the island and both resorts are heavily concentrated with restaurants, bars, cafés and language schools so students won’t be short of places to eat, drink or congregate with fellow classmates. From its humble beginnings as a small fishing village, St Julian’s (or San Giljan as it’s more commonly referred to in Maltese) is now a thriving tourist destination and a favourite holiday retreat for native islanders. Charles Sammut, Managing Director at the Gateway International School of English (Gisoe) in the town, notes that the booming tourist trade has made locals extremely hospitable towards foreigners. “The attitude towards tourists and foreign students learning English in local schools has been praised by our students,” he comments.

Attard-Montalto agrees and says the Maltese are only too happy to help, should students find themselves in unfamiliar territory. “Only recently whilst on my way home from work a German couple who were completely lost asked me for directions to their hotel. I started to explain where they needed to go, but they looked confused, so I thought that I’d drive them to their hotel in my car!” she relates.

Despite being such a lively tourist destination, St Julian’s has retained an air of traditionalism that many will appreciate. Students need only saunter along the promenade to see traditional Luzzu (a small Maltese fishing boat) bobbing up and down in Spinola Bay (one of St Julian’s three bays). These brightly coloured boats, with their distinctively curved bow and hand-painted eyes (said to be an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection) are synonymous with Malta and even featured on the reverse side of the old Maltese Lira coin.

Food is heavily influenced by Mediterranean neighbours Sicily and North Africa and national dishes include pastizzi – a flaky pastry filled with cheese or vegetables, lampuki – a pie made with the local dorado fish and vegetables and aljotta – a fish soup with marjoram, tomatoes, garlic and rice. Attard-Montalto notes that students should certainly sample the local cuisine while in town and heartily recommends students taste the local bread and gbejniet (a type of goat’s cheese).

Eating out needn’t be expensive either, notes Roger Bugeja from EF International who states that EF students benefit from several concessions. “Some of the restaurants offer EF students special discounts which make them more appealing to our guests,” he states. When it comes to recommending an eaterie, Louiseanne Mercieca from English Language Academy advises one of St Julian’s many seafront restaurants like Peppino’s, Terrazza and Paparazzi.

Meanwhile, the district of Paceville – pronounced Patchy Ville – is considered to be Malta’s party capital and Sammut agrees that it’s a favourite among younger clientele. “At night-time adolescent students flock to Paceville: Malta’s main entertainment centre,” he comments.

Situated on a steep hill between St George’s Bay and St Julian’s Bay, it’s full of lively music bars, pumping discotheques, and fast food restaurants sure to entertain students until the early hours. “Paceville is the place to meet new people, enjoy some good music, chill out or just dance the night away,” relates Ira Losco, a lecturer at EF International. “All the nightclubs have free admission and special offers at the bar for students, so you’re definitely in for a good night out!” she enthuses.

However, saunter down hill towards the seafront and students will come across the upmarket Portomaso Marina, a brand new development cut into the cliff-side. Here, students can get a feel for the highlife with millionaires’ yachts, a glamorous casino and a grand shopping complex, great for a little retail therapy. Portomaso also boasts the island’s tallest landmark, the Portomaso Tower which stands at 98 metres (320 feet).

A three-kilometre promenade, peppered with shops, restaurants, bars, banks, Internet cafés and supermarkets, connects St Julian’s to the neighbouring town of Sliema and Lisa Darmanin Demajo from inlingua Malta relates that a stroll along this walkway is a popular way for students to acquaint themselves with the area. “A promenade runs all the way from Sliema to St Julian’s and walking along the seafront instead of taking the bus is a pleasantly picturesque walk,” she notes.

Like St Julian’s, Sliema (meaning peace in Maltese) started life as a quaint little fishing village but the tourism boom saw shops, bars and restaurants spring up where outhouses once stood. Situated just across the water from the country’s capital, Valletta, the town is now brimming with retail outlets including UK chains such as Marks & Spencer and Monsoon. It is, according to Darmanin Demajo, a shopper’s paradise.

However, students can escape the whir of bargain hunters by taking an impromptu boat tour of the island. “I think all students visiting Sliema should hop on one of the many boat tours available like the harbour cruise and enjoy a relaxing boat ride while learning about Maltese history,” comments Darmanin Demajo, adding, “being on water is also a good way to escape the heat on land!”

Alberta Stivala from Linguatime School of English in Sliema notes that the promenade offers more than just clothes and jewellery shops. With some great views of the surrounding bays and Valletta, students will surely capture Malta at its most beautiful and they should remember to take their camera with them!

Meanwhile, those after a little cultural enrichment will relish the Knight’s of Malta Spectacular, a two-hour show depicting the events of the Great Siege of 1565. Darmanin Demajo, who runs an excursion to the Monte Kristo wine vault where the performance is staged, says it’s certainly an interesting and rather unusual extra curricular activity.

Agent viewpoint

”Our clients choose Malta for the weather. It’s also a safe place to go and the euro is used. We recommend Malta and Gisoe because of its perfect location in a picturesque, high-class residential area. It also has a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. It’s only a short walk from Spinola Bay, St Julian’s and Paceville and it has easy access to the public transport network. Our clients enjoy the full and friendly assistance of the Gisoe staff. It is a family-run school and student residences are adjacent to the school.”
Mª Antonia Rodríguez, The English Centre, Spain

”Students going to Malta are very clear about the fact that they can combine their English language studies together with a holiday experience. St. Julian’s and Paceville are famous for their nightlife and students are eager to go a school that is near all the places where that are “happening”. Sliema has less of an appeal for its nightlife but is recommended by us as a location that offers much more than just a buzzing nightlife. It is attractive to more mature clients. For more academically focused and mature students, we suggest Sliema as alternative destination.”
Patrick Mueller, StudyGlobal, Germany

”Malta is undoubtedly top choice for summer English courses. It combines not only the opportunity to immerse in foreign language but also in the rich culture. Students are offered multiple attractions suited to many preferences, from surfing in the Mediterranean to sightseeing in such picturesque cities as St Julian’s, Sliema or Paceville. Our students always mention that they leave Malta with unforgettable memories of warmth, hospitality and their language proficiency significantly improves.”
Andrzej Nowak, FES Foreign Education Services, Poland

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The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Britannia Student

English Australia  
Feltom Malta  
MEI-Relsa Ireland  
Perth Education City
Quality English  

LTM Star Awards  

Internet Advantage
Your World On
In Touch  

Malta Tourism

English Australia  
MEI-Relsa Ireland  
Quality English  

English Australia  
Gold Coast Institute
      of TAFE  
Perth Education City

CERAN Lingua
      (Belgium, France,
      Spain, UK) 

Canadian &
      Student Services
National School
      of Languages  
Richmond School
      District #38  
Vancouver English
      (Canada, Mexico)

Bell International 
      (Malta, UK)
Berlitz UK Ltd  
Bournemouth One
       to One English
      Language School  
English Studio  
InTuition Languages
      (Australia, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, South America,
      Spain, UK, USA)
IP International
      Projects GmbH  
      (England, France,
      Germany, Spain)
Kaplan Aspect 
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
Living Learning
Oxford Brookes
Oxford International
      Study Centre  
Queen Ethelburga's
RLI Language
St Clare's Oxford  
St Giles Colleges 
      (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group  
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Italy, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa,Spain, USA)
Twin Group 
      (Ireland, UK)
University of Essex -
University of Sussex
Wimbledon School
      of English  

Alliance Française
      Paris Ile de France
Home Language
      (Australia, Brazil,
      Canada, China,
      Czech Republic,
      Denmark, England,
      Egypt, Finland,
      France, Greece,
      the Netherlands,
      Hungary, Ireland,
      Italy, Japan,
      Scotland, South
      Africa, Spain, Malta,
      New Zealand,
      Norway, Poland,
      Arab Emirates,
      USA, Wales)
IH Nice  
Universite de Paris

Carl Duisberg
      Medien GmbH  
      (England, Germany)
International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

Active English  
Alpha College of
English in Dublin  
Galway Language
Irish College of
Swan Training
MEI-Relsa Ireland  

Kai Japanese
      Language School  

      Language School  
Feltom Malta  
IELS - Institute of
      English Language
Malta Tourism


Colegio Maravillas  
ESADE - Executive
Español ¡Si!
Malaca Instituto -
      Club Hispanico SL

EAC Language
      Centres and
      Activity Camps.  
University of
      (England, Ireland,
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EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Ecuador,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, Malta, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Scotland, Spain,

ELS Language
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)