The committee of the Maltese Historical Association held its eighth Language Immersion Morning on 11 August 2012 at the Maltese Community Centre in Parkville. The thirty four students accompanied by three teachers were picked up by a hired coach from Taylors Lakes Secondary College, where they learn Maltese every Saturday. As soon as the students arrived at the centre, they were greeted by the President of the MHA, Frances Bonnici. Soon after, the students were divided into two groups – primary and secondary levels.
The secondary students had a ‘hands on’ activity to start off the morning. Mrs Marija Cilia, a committee member of the MHA shared her culinary expertise by demonstrating to the students the way Maltese ‘Imqaret’ are made. Marija brought all the equipment – rolling pins, pasta machines to roll out the dough, bowls etc. and all ingredients. After discussing some health and safety issues with the young people, she then demonstrated how to prepare the dough and the filling. The students were all eyes and ears and carefully watched Marija as she explained the techniques when rolling out the pastry and an easy way to pipe the filling on to the dough. All students had a go at making their ‘imqaret’ or date slices. They were allowed into the centre’s kitchen to watch the frying process and how to be aware of all safety measures when frying food. The students then had to fill in a worksheet, in Maltese, all related with the activity they had participated in. Most important of all they got to eat the imqaret while still nice and warm. The activity was conducted all in the Maltese language.
The second activity for the young adults was organised by the teachers themselves. During previous Saturdays, at school, the students were shown U-Tube snippets describing different historical sites in Malta e.g. Mdina; Mosta Dome etc. The students were then divided into five groups; each group had to design a poster about one of the sites using pictures and writing information about the site. Each group presented their project to the rest of the class at the end of the session.
The students enjoyed these activities immensely and one has to congratulate the students and teachers on the fantastic behaviour and manners they showed. One unforgettable experience for the MHA committee was to see two students – Lara Debattista and James Kapodistrias who have attended most, if not all the LIMs that the MHA has organised. These two students were there from the start – Lara is the youngest student to be awarded a Bursary on the very first Bursary Awards Program eight years ago and James in 2005. It is great to see that these two students have kept up their studies of the Maltese language. The primary aged group had different activities planned for them. The first activity was the children’s perception of the popular Maltese fictional character “Gaħan”. The students were familiar with the character as the teacher had read them several stories about “Gaħan” at school. After the teacher discussed with the students the sometimes exaggerated physical features of this humorous imaginary character, some fitting descriptive words in Maltese were written on the white board for the students’ benefit. Then on an A3 sheet and working in pairs, the students were asked to draw how they imagined “Gaħan” would have looked.
With the help of word lists in Maltese and English, and with the volunteers helping with spelling and grammatical structures, the students were encouraged to write a few sentences about this popular imaginary character. The result of this activity was amazing in the way students perceived “Gaħan” – all very different; with unique and very colourful characteristics.
The ‘Movement to Music’ was the second activity organised by the teacher. This was held in the hall where the students listened to the music and watched the dancing to the song. The students had great fun imitating the dancers and moving to the rhythm of Maltese music.
The third activity was organised and presented by Frances Bonnici. After a short introduction about the “Gugarelli” and what toys the children play with, Frances introduced the popular Maltese poem “Għandi Pupa”. She encouraged the students to read along so that they practise their reading skills. After that, the fun part started. The students, supported by the volunteers, were asked to make a doll out of several strings of coloured wool. Using pipe cleaners, they gave the doll a head, a bodice and legs. Then they were allowed to use their imagination to dress-up the dolls.
Again, the sight of children and students having fun while learning our language and familiarising themselves with our culture, makes the planning and organisation so very worthwhile. As now has become the practice, the students were provided with Morning Tea as well as free transport to and from the Maltese Centre.
I would like to thank the MHA Committee members and their spouses who donated their time, the teachers who organised activities and supervised the students, the MCCV’s Executive Committee who always provide the pastizzi as well as free use of the Maltese Centre. I would also like to thank Edwidge Borg, the Vice-President of the Federation of Maltese Language Schools for her input during the morning.