Ukrainian teenager learns how to speak Maltese in two and a half years

Written Maltese is often very confusing for those who want to write it well. However, St Ignatius College has found a way around this problem through an app and interactive software by means of which it hopes to help students avoid spelling mistakes.

The general impression of many Maltese people as well as foreigners is that Maltese is very difficult to learn. However, one Ukrainian teenager, Veronica Sytntik, learnt it in a very short time.

“I am 14 and have been living here for around five and half years…I love languages and I did not find it very difficult, although as a language it is not that easy to learn,” said Veronika.

Teachers of the Maltese language are aware of this challenge, but at the moment they are concerned with the way students are writing Maltese and the fact that spelling mistakes have continued to increase.

Alan Saliba, the Head of the Maltese Department at St Ignatius College said that there is now a trend to write in the most convenient way without observing the rules of orthography or grammar.

“I believe that technology is hampering students because they are writing haphazardly without paying attention to double consonants, and where the ‘ie’ and the ‘gh’ should go, as long as they are making themselves understood, and this is being transmitted in the way they write. We have also noticed that there is a lack of reading,” said Mr Saliba.

Rachel Paris, who is in Form Four, believes that reading is the best tool to acquire proper written and verbal Maltese.

“Reading is an important foundation, because if one finds a book they enjoy, without realising it he is absorbing the proper way in which words should be used when he comes to writing them himself,” said Rachel.

Aware that technology is affecting the way in which we write Maltese, the College administration is working on an innovative project so that students can improve their spelling.

“We are creating very interactive software so that we can address the students and they too can test themselves on how they can solve this spelling problem. This will obviously also ensure that the Maltese language is given the dignity it deserves,” said Mr Saliba.

This project will be made possible through the funds which the College has acquired by winning the Frans Sammut prize which promotes the proper use of Maltese.

“It was always Frans’ wish that this prize should be given to the school, individual or institution that best promotes the love and spreading of Maltese culture.”

Any individual, school, local council, organisation or company can take part in the third edition of the Frans Sammut Prize, by submitting a nomination at the Education Ministry up to 7 April. The prize will be awarded on 12 May.

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