Skip to main content
English

Do They Speak English in Malta?

Do They Speak English in Malta

Key Takeaways

FactDetail
Official Languages of MaltaMaltese and English
Percentage of English speakersApprox. 88% of the population
Role of English in EducationTaught from early years, and is the medium of instruction in many subjects
Other languages spoken in MaltaItalian, French, and Spanish are also spoken, though to a lesser extent
Historical InfluenceBritish colonial rule from 1800 to 1964

A Brief History of English in Malta

Understanding the presence and significance of the English language in Malta requires a glance back at the nation’s rich history. Malta, situated in the heart of the Mediterranean, has been influenced by numerous civilizations due to its strategic location. Among them, the British left a lasting impact.

The British Period (1800-1964):
Malta was under British rule for over 160 years. This long colonial period ingrained English into the Maltese society, both as a means of administration and education. English, along with Maltese, eventually became the official language of the country.

Popularity and Usage

Prevalence of English Speakers

According to recent studies:

Age GroupPercentage of English Speakers
18-29 years old95%
30-49 years old90%
50 years and over80%

As the table suggests, the younger generation in Malta is more proficient in English, but a significant percentage of the older generation also speaks the language. Overall, about 88% of the entire population is fluent in English.

English in Education

  • Primary and Secondary Education: From the early years, Maltese students are taught both Maltese and English. In fact, many subjects, such as science and mathematics, are often taught in English.
  • Tertiary Education: At the university level, most courses are conducted in English, making it essential for students to have a good command of the language.

Cultural Aspects and Media

  • Television and Films: English is predominant in Malta’s media landscape. Most international films and series are broadcasted in English, with some having Maltese subtitles.
  • Books and Literature: While there’s a rich trove of literature in Maltese, English books are widespread, and many Maltese authors choose to write in English to reach a broader audience.
  • Business and Tourism: English is widely used in business. Given that Malta is a popular tourist destination, English serves as a lingua franca for communication with tourists from around the world.

Other Languages in Malta

While English and Maltese are the official languages, Malta’s rich history has led to a medley of other languages being spoken, though to a lesser extent. Some of these include:

  • Italian: Due to proximity and historical ties, around 66% of Maltese people can speak Italian. It used to be the language of culture and education before English took over.
  • French and Spanish: These languages are less common but are taught in schools and are spoken by a portion of the population.

The Maltese Language

Understanding Malta’s linguistic landscape would be incomplete without mentioning the Maltese language itself. Maltese (or “Malti”) is a unique Semitic language with significant influence from Italian, English, and French, reflecting the nation’s rich history.

Characteristics of Maltese:

  1. Semitic Roots: It’s the only Semitic language written in the Latin script and has its roots in the Arabic spoken by the Fatimid dynasty.
  2. European Influences: Over centuries, due to Malta’s interactions with various European powers, the language has absorbed a plethora of words from Italian, Sicilian, English, and French.
  3. Modern Day Maltese: Today, with globalization, many English words, especially technological terms, have found their way into daily Maltese vernacular.

Conclusion

To answer the titular question: Yes, they do speak English in Malta, and they speak it very well! The legacy of British rule, combined with the necessities of modern business, tourism, and academia, ensures that English remains a dominant language in Malta. However, the heart of Malta’s linguistic identity lies in the Maltese language, a beautiful blend of historical influences and modern-day adaptations.