A recent study conducted by researcher and linguist Lara Ann Vella shows what language students are speaking with while they’re at home.
Published in the latest edition of the Malta Review of Educational Research, Vella has shown that students who attend private schools speak primarily in English at home, whereas those who attend state or church schools tend to speak Maltese at home.
And while this seems to further the typical Maltese stereotype that the ‘Tal-pepe’ kind learned all they know from private schools, and the Maltese hamallu somehow emerged from having no other option but to go to a state school, the issue lies more within how parents communicate with their kids rather than what they are taught in schools.
Out of 559 participants, the majority of those who attend state schools speak Maltese at home. Only a tenth speak to their parents exclusively in English.
The majority of those who attend private schools speak mostly English with their parents, with 40% speaking only in English.
When it comes to those who attend church schools, nearly a third speak mainly in English to both mothers and fathers, while nearly half speak mostly in Maltese.
The study also found that while Maltese is mainly used by 14- to 15-year-olds, English is more common among younger children.
This could give us reason to believe that parents are becoming more likely to communicate in English with their young children.
The study, which also included the children’s parents, shows that people who speak mainly Maltese at home are those with a primary education.
The higher the education level the person has attained, the more they are inclined to speak English with their kids.
Those who speak both Maltese and English tend to be those with a post-secondary education, followed by those with a tertiary education.
Should we be making more of a conscious effort to speak Maltese more often in our homes? Let us know in the comments!