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Malta prioritises standards

Sue Falzon describes the robust regulatory system governing ELT centres on the Mediterranean island

The English as a Foreign Language Monitoring Board, part of the Ministry for Education and Employment in Malta, is working hard to enhance quality standards in the EFL industry and in this way make Malta an internationally renowned English language learning destination.

This summer the board has been visiting each of the 76 centres used for teaching English to foreign students in Malta and Gozo. This monitoring exercise is carried out every summer in a bid to ensure higher academic and non-academic standards in the EFL sector. These centres include 42 lisenced EFL schools and an additional 34 annexes which are used only in the peak season due to the increase in the number of students. Just like the schools, the annexes must meet legal requirements to be approved.

Each centre is visited twice, with the first visit focusing on academic standards. The academic visits form part of the board’s efforts to enhance the quality of teaching standards. Such visits are in line with the academic schools visits.

Policy has been developed by us in consultation with the schools. The second visit is conducted by our management team. The purpose of this visit is to ensure that all EFL schools and annexes comply with legal notice 60 of 1996 and other policies issued by the board (see May 2014 Gazette for more on legal notice 60, which includes responsibility for child protection). These policies specify the kind of provisions that schools should make.

These visits are one aspect of a range of measures we are adopting to quality-assure the EFL sector in Malta. The board has moved away from conducting formal inspections, which have been redefined as support visits with the aim of fostering cooperation and support within the EFL sector.

Daniel Xerri, EFL Monitoring Board chair, pointed out, ‘The quality of teaching at every EFL centre in Malta is top notch due to the emphasis placed on continuing professional development by the EFL Monitoring Board and the schools that work in collaboration with it. The ELT conference we organise every year helps to ensure that teachers and directors of studies are provided with an opportunity to learn from international experts in the field while contributing ideas that enable all teachers to grow as professionals.’

Morever, in its bid to foster the ELT teaching profession in Malta, the board administers its own proficiency examination (Telt) and Tefl course (Tefl Cert) for prospective EFL teachers. The examination is continually upgraded, as is the syllabus for courses that focus mainly on teaching methodology. Other benchmarking parameters are also introduced on an ongoing basis.

Sue Falzon is ELT senior manager of the EFL Monitoring Board, EFL Section, at the Ministry for Education and Employment in Malta