When we think of Malta, we always start dreaming of sunny skies, beautiful beaches and crystal-clear seas. However, Malta is more than just a paradise for holiday-seekers. As a former British colony, the country has to this day English as an official language. This historical fact, along with stunning nature and lovely climate makes Malta a top destination for studying English. There are over 40 language schools in Malta nowadays, and one of them has found a way to stand out from the rest. Meet English Language Academy Malta!
ETN Focus: Please introduce yourself and tell us about your school?
ELA Malta: ELA Malta is celebrating 29 years of quality English Language teaching this year. We are fully accredited founder members of FELTOM (Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations – Malta). Currently, we are also the first and only centre in Malta to offer TOEFL iBT online test, and official representatives of the University of Malta.
ELA Malta offers group and individual lessons to students of all ages from the age of four, as well as programmes for families. We are open all year round and our school is situated in Sliema, Malta’s foremost residential and tourist town. Our groups are small and international. All our teachers are highly qualified and experienced. Our major selling points are ‘family’ atmosphere, location, experience and small international groups.
One of Malta’s longest standing Directors of Studies is our Head of Academic Department. The Assistant Director of Studies previously held a teacher training position representing Cambridge University Press and Pearson ELT in Central Asia. Our teachers are not only qualified and licensed, but many of them were trained here at ELA, ensuring that our staff are all in line with ELA’s academic ethos, despite each teacher having their own unique style. They also regularly attend professional development events such as workshops organized by MATEFL (the Malta Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) and the annual Malta ELT Conference. In this way, they keep up to date with the latest trends and research findings in ELT.
Apart from English Language courses, we also offer pre-service teacher training courses for those who would like to become EFL Teachers, as well as custom designed courses from groups of experienced teachers who are looking for professional development.
Apart from tuition we can also arrange transfers, accommodation and activities. Wi-Fi and internet are free for students at ELA.
ETN: How diverse is your current student mix? What kind of international students are you looking to attract?
ELA: In 2016, we welcomed students from 74 different countries. ELA welcomes students of all ages, from the age of four, either as individuals, or as a group with a teacher or group leader. We put students into groups according to age, level and nationality, international groups. Each student sits a 30-min written placement text, without using a dictionary. After that follows a short face-to-face informal interview with our Director of Studies and his assistant.
ETN: In what ways do you encourage cross-cultural acceptance and understanding within your community? And how do you promote your local culture to students from all over the world?
ELA: ELA welcomes students of every nationally and culture. Students experience full immersion in the Maltese islands. We have an activities programme for every day of the week and for all ages. These programmes change every week.
Our teachers also follow a syllabus which is flexible enough to allow lessons to be adapted to different cultural arrangements in the classroom, and they make every effort to make sure that every student feels comfortable and represented, but that these lessons also help to foster more intercultural understanding and harmony.
ETN: Malta is such a popular destination for English language programs. What makes you stand out against tough local competition?
ELA: Malta is the third biggest destination as an EFL centre in Europe, after Ireland and England. The country is very safe, the weather is wonderful and it is relatively easy to acquire a visa. In addition, Malta offers so many exciting activities.
We stand out against local competition because we offer small international groups, a family atmosphere and personal attention to all our students. We are in the best location in Malta! Although we aren’t a big school, we offer all the services and more, than the other schools offer.
Our academic team also stand out in that our teachers are not bound to a single coursebook. Instead, they have a library of materials in which to build custom lessons each day for their learners. Our teachers, above all else, focus on the learners as people and individuals.
ETN: What methods and strategies do you use for promoting and marketing your school to new markets and students?
ELA: We firmly believe our students are our best form of advertising, so we do our very best to look after each student’s needs. We ensure they make the most of their stay in our school and in Malta. Our school attends several workshops a year to meet agents. We also visit agents whenever we can.
ETN: How important is having an agent network for your school? And how do you support the agents you work with?
ELA: Of utmost importance. 75% of our bookings come from agents. We never offer our services cheaper than what our agents are offering. Our agents enjoy full assistance and co-operation, and we try our very best to respond to all e-mails on the day. We never say anything is impossible and we always try our best to accommodate all requests, difficult as some may seem.
ETN: How do you see the demand for ESL programs evolving in the future, and what is your vision of ELA Malta for the years to come?
ELA: We have been in this business for 29 years and have gone from strength to strength. There is such a large market that we can only see ourselves getting stronger. We don’t wish to become big, as we’ve maintained our identity as the school that offers small international groups and personal service.
We have also noticed that international examinations, such as TOEFL, are becoming increasingly popular. The world is getting ‘smaller’ as globalization is starting to affect even medium-sized and smaller businesses, and both employers and Universities alike are turning to these established exams to ensure that their employees can communicate in global settings.
All images courtesy of ELA Malta.
English Language Academy (ELA Malta) will attend the PON, INPSIEME & ITACA Focus Workshop this year represented by its Marketing Executive, Sarah Scerri.
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