July 2013 issue

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Malta’s unique identity

Malta is an ever-popular destination for learning English. While its credentials as a fun place for beach activities are well-known, its cultural attractions are also extremely strong, making it a good offer for all ages and tastes. Jane Vernon Smith takes a tour.

Well-known as a modern destination for “fun in the sun”, Malta is also so much more. With its earliest settlement dating back to 5,200 BC, it boasts an outstanding historical and cultural heritage. Its language, literature, art, music, folklore, and its World Heritage sites – the capital city, Valletta, the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum (underground tombs) and its incredible Megalithic temples that pre-date the Egyptian pyramids – all contribute to a unique national identity, says Nat Brewer, Adult Programme Manager at EC English in St Julian’s, making it, “truly, a destination which attracts many people from different walks of life, [that] can cater to a wide range of exceptional experiences.”

Moreover, as Louiseanne Mercieca, Sales & Marketing Manager at English Language Academy in Sliema highlights, the distances between different areas of the island are not great, so that wherever they choose as their base, visitors can enjoy the full range of experiences that the island has to offer.

St Julian’s, on the north coast, is a popular destination for international students, business visitors and holiday-makers alike. This resort is “a bustling tourist hub” that “offers a unique...blend of culture, entertainment and leisure, all combined in one, all within walking distance from one another,” according to Keith Zammit, Director at Ace English Malta. And the location of Ace English is, he believes, “second to none”. Situated on the top floors within the Bay Street Complex – “the top commercial and entertainment mall in St Julian’s”, with a variety of fashion outlets, cafés and restaurants all under one roof – its location offers students a wide range of opportunities for pre- and post-lesson options, without ever needing to leave the building. Moreover, accommodation is also available within the same complex.

Importantly for many students, “Some of the best nightlife in Europe is concentrated in the small area of St Julian’s called Paceville,” points out Mirjam Braas, Marketing Manager of Sprachcaffe Languages Plus. She notes that famous DJs come to the island on a regular basis. Meanwhile, “Going out in Malta is still cheap, compared to most places in Europe,” she observes, “and bars and clubs stay open all night.”

The Sprachcaffe St Julian’s school is located in a quiet part of St Julian’s Bay, which is also close to Paceville’s nightlife, and the school building is, says Braas, “simply breath-taking – a sight to behold!” Built in the 1930s to serve as a barracks for British soldiers, “this striking stone building, with its classical Greek-like elements and Roman arcades, never fails to impress our students,” she claims.

Beach activities are another reason for choosing St Julian’s, and Maltalingua language school benefits from a quiet, residential location, which is also just five minutes’ walking distance from the seafront, with a range of amenities, including restaurants, bars and also accommodation.

One of the most pleasant and enjoyable things to do in St Julian’s and nearby Sliema, according to Maltalingua spokesperson, Anne-Lina Treuheit, is “to just walk along the beautiful promenade”, where, she says, “numerous cafés, bars and little shops...provide a wonderful holiday atmosphere. Next to that, Club 22, which is on the twenty-second floor of Hilton Tower, offers a stunning view during the evening, and is the right address for a good night out,” she recommends. “Those who want to enjoy a wonderful sunset over some barbecue and a glass of wine should walk just five minutes further, to Sliema beach.”

Just east of St Julian’s Bay, Sliema is a very popular residential area, where, “There is everything one would need within very easy walking distance, [including] several gorgeous beaches, lovely promenades, shops, cafés and restaurants, and the biggest shopping mall on the islands,” observes Mercieca. “There are [also] direct buses to everywhere.”

Based in Sliema, ELA is a medium-sized school, which Mercieca describes as having “a wonderful and very special family atmosphere.” Moreover, she claims, “Its location is the best in Malta.”

More than 33 years ago, inlingua also chose Sliema as the location for what was just the second language school to be established on the island. Situated in the centre of Sliema, it is in a pedestrianised area, which, as Marketing Executive at the school, Analise Loporto, points out, makes it extremely safe for students.

Being just a 10-minute bus journey or a 15-20 minute ferry ride away from Valletta, Sliema is well located for taking advantage of the chance to make trips to the capital.

Harbour cruises start from a point just three minutes’ walk from inlingua’s premises, and come highly recommended by Loporto. Taking you through the two natural harbours – Marsamxetto and the Grand Harbour – that flank the city, a cruise also shows off Valletta’s historic forts, battlements and creeks, which, she says, can only be admired from the sea. The city itself, described by Mercieca as “nothing short of an open-air museum”, is essentially Baroque in style. One of its crowning glories is the St John’s co-cathedral.

Another recommended excursion that is within easy reach by direct bus from Sliema is the ancient city of Mdina, known as “the silent city”. Thought to have been founded by the Phoenicians in around 1,000 BC, Mdina has had a turbulent and colourful history. “Today, mercifully, it is mainly off-limits to cars”, observes Mercieca, “and there is a calming atmosphere as you walk along its narrow streets and ways, passing by some of the best Norman and Baroque architecture on the island.”

For those who prefer a less bustling, greener environment, St Paul’s Bay is a destination to consider. In this green area on the north-west side of the island, GV Malta has a school. Located on a quiet street just two minutes from the sea, it is also within 15 minutes of the St Paul’s Bay nightlife area.

St Paul’s Bay is conveniently situated for excursions to the beautiful neighbouring islands of Gozo and Comino, where GV’s Rebecca Abela recommends taking a swim in the caves at the famous Blue Grotto, and admiring the views across the water to the islet of Filfla. The Blue Lagoon between the islands of Comino and Cominetto, is also worth a boat-trip, and is a popular location for diving, snorkelling and swimming.

With, as Braas points out, among the clearest waters in the Mediterranean, Malta is a great place for diving. Rated as one of the top three diving destinations in the world it boasts many great diving sites around its coastline – including wrecks dating back to as early as the third century – and caves and reefs surround the island. EC English in St Julian’s is located just minutes away from its partner diving school, Brewer adds, and students can obtain tickets at discounted rates.

Being an island, Malta is also renowned for its seafood, which features strongly on many restaurant menus. And it is not difficult to combine enjoyment of several of the island’s characteristic attractions in one well planned excursion. “Don’t forget to eat fresh fish in one of the many nice harbours of Malta,” recommends Braas – “maybe combined with a boating tour to the Blue Lagoon of Comino or the Blue Grotto to enjoy [the island’s] sunny weather.”

Agent viewpoint

“Malta is the ideal location for all who want to combine their holidays with intensive English studies. Students enjoy the seaside [and discovering] the rich cultural heritage, but still spend their time in the language school for serious studies in an international surrounding. Students enjoy that they easily can visit various places on the main island due to a very good public transport system – and even getting to Gozo is easy. Malta is an excellent alternative for English language studies in easy reach of Central Europe, but ensuring a nice, Mediterranean climate.”
Helmut Hampel, FSTS, Austria

“There are several reasons to choose Malta. The priority of these reasons depends on [the individual]: 1. Climate and sea. This is important especially for those who live in the North of Russia (Siberia) and the Far East. 2. Reasonable prices, especially in low season [as] there is not such a big differentiation of seasons in other countries as...in Malta. 3. Safety of [the] country and its reputation. 4. It’s easier to receive a visa to Malta than to many other [competing destinations].”
Igor Mishurov, Students International, Russia

“Malta is usually chosen for two principal reasons: price/budget considerations – it’s cheaper than elsewhere – and because of reputation/word-of-mouth. Young adult students know they can have a good time. Sliema is a great place to learn English and Feltom schools do a great job. I think young adult students are pleasantly surprised by how welcoming and friendly the Maltese are.”
Denis Baker, Aventure Linguistique, Switzerland

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

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






Sakura House  
English Australia  
Feltom Malta  
English Australia  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
eYou Mandarin School  
Harrow College  
INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
Prime Education  
London School of Business & Finance  
TUS Advertising  
St Giles International  
GSM (Greenwich School of Management)  
Cambridge Esol  
English For Asia  
Centre of English Studies  
Akamonkai Japanese Language School  
Genki Japanese and Culture School  
Kai Japanese Language School  
Manabi Japanese Language Institute  
Sakura House  
Sendai Language School  
Yokohama International Education Academy  
Clubclass Residential Language School  
Malaca Instituto - Club Hispanico SL  
EF International Language Centers  
Eurocentres International  
Taiwan Mandarin Institute  
Malta Tourism Authority  
Cal America Education Institute  
California School of English  
California State University San Marcos  
ELS Language Centers  
Glenholme School  
IH Pacific (Vancouver, Whistler, San Diego)  
INTERLINK Language Centers  
Madison ESL School  
Spring International Language Center  
University of California Berkeley  
University of California Irvine  
University of California San Diego  
University of Delaware  
University of Maryland Baltimore County  
University of Tennessee at Knoxville  
Zoni Language Centers  

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