Language Trends in Malta: 25% of Under-10s Declare English as Primary Language


Census Data Highlights Generational Changes in Language Preferences, Literacy Rates, and Educational Attainment in Malta

In a recent census, it was discovered that nearly 25% of Maltese children below the age of 10 consider English to be their first language. The data highlights a noticeable shift towards English, particularly in comparison to older age groups. The trend showcases a divergence in language preference between younger and older demographics in Malta.

Also Read: Language Learning Gap: Less Than 1% of English Schools Equipped with Comprehensive Policies

The statistics indicate that around 15% of Maltese individuals aged 10 to 19 view English as their primary language. This percentage decreases to approximately 9% for adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, with a further decline among senior citizens. While Maltese remains the dominant language across all age groups, regions like Swieqi, Sliema, and St Julian’s stand out for a higher prevalence of English speakers from an early age.

Swieqi leads with nearly 40% of its residents being English speakers from childhood, followed by around 25% in Sliema and St Julian’s, according to the National Statistics Office’s (NSO) third volume of the Census of Population and Housing 2021. However, it’s important to note that direct comparisons with previous census data are challenging due to changes in survey methodologies.

The census also reports a literacy rate of nearly 96% in 2021, showing an improvement from almost 94% in 2011. Swieqi boasts the highest literacy rate, with almost 99% of its residents being able to read and write, while Luqa has the lowest rate at just over 89%.

The data also reveals insights into language preferences, with Maltese being considered easier to speak and understand, while English is perceived as easier to read and write. Additionally, education levels have risen, with almost a quarter of individuals aged 15 or older having completed tertiary education by 2021.

The Maltese workforce witnessed significant growth, increasing by approximately 60% from 2011 to 2021. Despite these positive changes, the census indicates little shift in gender-specific job roles, with men and women predominantly employed in specific sectors.

As Malta evolves economically and culturally, the census provides a comprehensive overview of shifting language dynamics, educational achievements, and workforce trends, offering valuable insights into the nation’s changing landscape.

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