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ELT nervous as Malta opens

Thousands of Hungarian students are to study in Malta, the foreign ministry have announced. It is not clear whether the 8,000 students will arrive in time for the crucial summer season.

Maltese schools are set to open in July, the government has informed the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta (FELTOM). With quarantine regulations currently in place in the UK and Ireland, the Mediterranean island nation is the first European EFL destination to open, albeit to citizens of a limited number of countries.

Malta removed travel restrictions on 19 nationalities at the beginning of July, but only two, Austrians and Germans, come from traditional language travel markets, James Perry, CEO of FELTOM, told Malta’s Independent newspaper.

Perry had warned of a bleak summer. “We will surely not reach or even get anywhere close to the 40,000 students mark of previous years, but it is more likely to be just a few hundred at best,” he told the paper.

The islands’ EFL teachers have also been hard hit, according to the Union of Professional Educators (UPE), which has reported teachers facing hardship due to delays in government payments.

Clearly 8,000 Hungarian school children would make a huge difference, but FELTOM has questioned whether these are new bookings. In February, the Hungarian government announced that 8,308 Hungarians had applied to study in Malta as part of a government-funded language learning initiative. The programme was postponed due to the pandemic.

Matt Salusbury
Matt Salusbury
MATT SALUSBURY, news editor and journalist, has worked for EL Gazette since 2007. He is also joint Chair of the London Freelance Branch of the National Union of Journalists and co-edits its newsletter, the Freelance. He taught English language for 15 years in the Netherlands, in Turkey, in a North London further education college and now as an English for Academic Purposes tutor, most recently at the London School of Economics. He is a native English speaker and is also fluent in Dutch.
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