Using play as its primary tool, the Arm of Support programme aims to introduce young children to the English language. It targets the grassroots level of Maltese community, focusing on areas where the use of English is almost completely absent. It is a programme extremely dear to ESU Malta because it embodies all of our key mission statements and it is really an area where we feel we can make a big difference in the community.
The programme was launched by ESU Malta in 2009 and in 2012 started running a pilot project in St. Margaret College, Zabbar Primary A. The project is run with the same children over a span of 3 years. Children have enjoyed participating in the programme throughout Kinder 1, Kinder 2, Year 1 and Year 2. This means that the programme’s high impact should ripple out towards the rest of the community.
Kinder 1 classes focus on listening skills more than on oracy since the students are so young that some of them can hardly speak well in Maltese yet. The Arm of Support tutors or volunteers conduct half hour sessions twice a week with the Kinder 2s and the Year 1s and 1 session weekly with the Kinder 1s and the Year 2s. Typical sessions include the singing of popular nursery rhymes or basic songs and the reading of simple stories. Feedback by the tutors shows that students, some not even 3 years old, respond well to the sessions and embrace English, a language they would have hardly ever experienced in their short lives, wholeheartedly.
The overall effectiveness of the programme is also dependant on the complete satisfaction and backing from the parents and to this end ESU Malta will also offer additional conversation classes for parents as of January 2015.
Ms Pia Zammit