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Monthly Archives: October 2012

School activity: Inquisitive students visit Inquisitor’s Palace

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At Maltalingua we aim to please our students, young or mature and each week we organise different activities to cater for different tastes. Many enjoy a quiet evening at the Valletta Waterfront, others like exploring medieval towns like Mdina, many are brave enough to sing at a karaoke night whilst some find Malta’s history appealing. Although we had a smaller number for this activity, our visit to the Inquisitor’s Palace in Vittoriosa was as successful as any other.

A couple of days before we went, I grabbed my books to brush up on my history. This came in quite handy as I played tourist guide on the day. Our visit to the palace coincided with Birgufest, an annual event that promotes the city of Vittoriosa (aka Birgu) through its history and historical buildings and museums. We were in for a surprise because we also had the opportunity to visit a roaming exhibition of Peasant and Noble Costumes entitled Insights into Rural Life and Society in the palace courtyard. The costumes are authentic and form part of the national collection.

It was interesting to see the difference between peasant and noble social classes through 16th and 17th century costumes which included baby wear, festa clothes, work clothes and special clothes worn only on Sundays.

The students were in awe of this magnificent palace even though it is one of the smallest on the island. It was built by the Knights of Malta on the 1530’s to serve as the Civil Law Courts until 1571.

This building has a long history of tenants. This palace served as the official residence of Malta’s first Inquisitor in 1574 for Mgr Pietro Dusina and all his successors. By the mid-18th century they managed successfully to transform the building into a typical Roman palace. The palace was also used by high ranking officials during the French Occupation. It was later turned into a military hospital and a mess house during British rule. It served as a refuge for Dominic Friars, and today it is the only Inquisitor’s Place open to the public in the world.

We started our tour by admiring the architecture in the courtyard and from there we visited the kitchen where a very old traditional Maltese oven is still in place. We couldn’t miss the beautiful garden with orange and pomegranate trees. Up the staircase we all went to visit the rooms in the upper floor. One beautiful hall is decorated with authentic murals and original paintings.

We also visited the Inquistor’s private quarters that served as a temporary apartment when the palace was set on fire in the 1600’s. These quarters include a luxurious authentic bedroom and the Inquisitor’s own chapel, complete with sacristy, which was used for prayer and welcome distinguished guests. We couldn’t stop wondering about tales of fear and terror as we made our way through corridors and the main hall. If only walls could talk!

The most important hall in the palace is undoubtedly the tribunal, where who know how many innocent lives were shattered when they were accused of blasphemy and witchcraft among other crimes. The torture chamber was the climax of tour visit, with torture mechanism still intact. We felt safe, however because the torture instruments are under lock and key and can only be viewed from a special window.

Each one of us was impressed by a particular part of this unique gem. Personally, I was touched by the feeling I got in the different prison cells. They undeniably ooze a feeling of pain and desperation. But most of all, I was impressed by the many etchings on the walls scratched, probably by their own fingers. Spooky!

written by Katrin Risiott

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Useful English expressions – Asking for and giving advice

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There are various ways how we can ask for/give advice in English.  Imagine you have a problem and you ask one of your friends for a piece of advice, or a friend asks you for advice. You can ask for advice/ give advice by using some of the following expressions;

Asking for advice

  • What do you think I should do?
  • What should I do?
  • What do you suggest?
  • What do you advise me to do?
  • If you were me what would you do?
  • What ought I to do?
  • Do you think that I should…?

Giving advice

  • If I were you I would/wouldn’t….
  • If I were in your shoes/position I would…
  • You had better/ you’d better…..
  • You should…
  • Your only option is to….
  • Why don’t you….?
  • Have you thought about….?
  • Have you tried…?

created by Tess Giordmaina

[ssquiz id=’15’ all]

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School Activity: Karaoke Revisited

Karaoke party with Maltalingua students
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We were all set for another night of karaoke, and this one was the big one.  We’ve always found it to be popular in the past, but this particular karaoke event had the biggest turnout to date, around 45 students and 5 teachers.  Both students and staff were excited and couldn’t wait to start belting out tunes.

We eagerly arrived at the bar, some of us ordered drinks, while others started dancing the night away to the beats the DJ was playing. Every table in the bar was taken by our students, and everything was going to plan – great atmosphere and certain to be awesome evening. Then, the nightmare began – we found out that the karaoke machine had stopped working. We had two options: we could have either simply enjoyed the night in each others’ company over some drinks and chats, or improvise and go for plan B. Too bad, we didn’t have a back-up plan.

Luckily Michael took action the moment he arrived and came up with plan B in an instant by searching for another karaoke bar in the vicinity. After a couple of trial and errors, he was successful and managed to find a bar just right around the corner. So we quickly gathered all the students to tell them the great news. Needless to say, everyone was ecstatic to find out our initial plan to sing along to some great tunes was not ruined. So we all happily went to the newly found Irish karaoke bar, where we were welcomed with a lively atmosphere. We literally filled the bar – leaving no space for any newcomers to take our place on the stage! We all drank, danced and had a fantastic time till the early hours of the morning. This was truly a great karaoke event, revisited in every sense of the word!

Written by: Michaela Griscti


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English Grammar – Prepositions of time

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clock times
other expressions:
at night
at the weekendat the same time
Peter woke up at 5 o’clock

The ship sails at night
I usually go swimming at the weekend.we finished the exam at the same time



special holidays (on my birthday, on Valentine’s day, on Christmas day, on New Year’s Eve)

I’m meeting Tom on Tuesday
Mary is flying to Rome on the 7th of March
I’m going to have a big Party on my 21st birthday




part of the day

My English course starts in September
we got married in 2006
In Moscow there is always a lot of snow in the winter
I always go jogging in the morning


Remember – we do NOT use at/on/in when we say every, last, this, next, yesterday and tomorrow.

– She went to Istanbul last year.
– We’re going to visit Mark this Friday.

Now let’s see how you are doing in the quiz 😉

created by Tess Giordmaina

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School Activity: ‘Treasure Hunt’ English!

Maltalingua English treasure hunt
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The Maltalingua leisure programme provides the opportunity for students to meet new people and practise their English in a relaxed environment and a context they can easily relate to, so we decided to go on a treasure hunt to find out more about Malta and Maltese culture.

We started in St. Julians and Paceville and students had to find the different places that were described in the collection of clues we gave them.  Despite the fact that we were a small group, it did not make our search any less interesting.  In total, there were 14 different places to find and each place was described in the form of a riddle, to challenge the students and their English!

I was impressed by how quickly they managed to guess many of the landmarks described in the first 6 hints, but the search became more difficult.  I helped with a couple of the clues and we reached the Millennium Chapel.

Then, I left them to search by themselves – it was then my job to get the ‘treasure’ ready.  While I was away, the students went slightly off track.  Instead of walking forward, they decided to go backwards, but everyone finally arrived at the right destination, Villa Rosa, in St Georges Bay.

It was another great afternoon and to end our week on a good note, we sat down in a nearby café, we ate the treasure, and chatted about our plans for the weekend.

Written by: Michaela Griscti

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English Vocabulary – Colour idioms

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There are lots of examples of colour idioms in English and here are some of them:

  1. Black sheep  (of a family) – a person who is an embarrassment to a family or group
  2. in black and white – in writing, officially
  3. out of the blue – to happen suddenly and unexpectedly
  4. once in a blue moon –  to occur rarely
  5. black and blue – bruised
  6. to have the blues–  to be sad or depressed
  7. to be green – inexperienced
  8. green with envy – full of envy
  9. grass is always greener on the other side – you always want what you don’t have
  10. green light – to be given permission
  11. to be in the red – in debt
  12. to catch someone red-handed –to catch someone in the middle of doing something wrong
  13. as white as a sheet – very pale, frightened
  14. a white lie – an innocent lie so as not to harm someone’s feelings
  15. in the dark – unaware

Now fill in the blanks with suitable words in the quiz. Have fun!

created by Tess Giordmaina

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Win a language trip to Malta!

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Maltalingua English Language School are offering a one week language holiday to the sunny island of Malta!The prize includes:

  • 2 weeks English course (20)
  • 14 nights’ accommodation in a self-catering school apartment
  • Return Airport collection
  • 1 free school activity
  • Course material
  • Level test and course certificate
  • Free internet access in the school and apartment
  • Student discount card
  • Welcome meeting with snacks and refreshments
  • Great school atmosphere smiley

To win this great prize you will need to list the 10 differences in the image below between Malta and England and in the comment field below say why you would choose Malta.

For more information, go to the competition conditions (competition ends 31.11.12)


Spot the differences

Note: Comments will not be published here until after the competition. Otherwise it would be too easy wink

Mention something funny or strange as a bonus!

Good Luck!

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School Activity: Independence Day Festivities

Independence Day Party in Malta
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On the 21st September, Malta celebrates Independence Day. This national holiday is annually celebrated with a week of events which take place on the Granaries in Floriana. This year we celebrated the 48th anniversary.

For many of our students, witnessing an event such as this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. They jumped at the occasion to participate in this Maltalingua activity.

During the week-long celebrations, Maltese and tourists alike, gather at the Granaries in Floriana to celebrate Independence Day. Different bands and singers entertain the audience every night and people can nibble on traditional Maltese food but one can also find an assortment of different foods from other countries. A song festival is also held annually and it is considered to be the second top festival in Malta after the Malta Song for Europe (Eurovision).

Sadly, our trip started off on the wrong foot. We waited for our bus to pick us up, however it didn’t turn up. I called the bus company and they reassured me that the bus was on the way but it got held up due to an accident that took place in one of the main roads in Malta.

As the old saying goes, better late than never. The bus turned up, and we finally headed to the Granaries. We arrived in no time and we could hear the music echoing in the background. As soon as we got off the bus, I could smell the delicious aroma of different food from different food stalls. Our stomachs started to churn.

We made it towards the different food stalls and the group separated because everybody wanted to eat something different. I opted for a typical Maltese dish… Snails garnished with aljoli (a special mixture of garlic, fresh breadcrumbs, anchovies, parsley and mint). Yummy!

On the stage, many talented Maltese singers were accompanied by a live band, playing internationally known tracks… and that’s when I spotted our students dancing to Mamma Mia! The students were all enjoying themselves. Theywere humming to Maltese songs even though they hadn’t heard them before. This confirms that music is an international language.

And like Cinderella, our bus picked us up at midnight to take us back home. This time, our bus was on time and it didn’t turn into a pumpkin.

Written by Katrin Risiott

–         Katrin Risiott

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English expressions – Formal and Informal writing

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Formal English is used in for example, books, official documents, news reports, business letters or official speeches.
 English is used in everyday conversation and in personal emails.

In formal writing sentences are longer and more complex whereas in informal writing they are shorter and simpler.

Differences between Formal and Informal expressions when writing an email:



Dear Sir/Madam, Dear Mr/Mrs (surname) Dear (first name), Hi, Hello
Beginnings Beginnings
  • With reference to our telephone conversation yesterday (about)
  • Thank you for your email regarding
  • I am writing on behalf of
  • I am writing to draw your attention to
  • It was nice to hear from you
  • It’s been ages since I’ve heard from you
  • How are you? Hope you and your family are doing well
  • I am writing to let you know
Making a request Making a request
  • I would appreciate if you could
  • I would be most grateful if you would
  • Would you be so kind and
  • I was wondering if you could


  • You don’t mind …ing (…) (for me), do you?
  • Do me a favour, will you?
  • Would it be possible for you to?
  • Can/Could I ask you to?
Apologising Apologising
  • We apologise for any inconvenience caused
  • Please accept our sincere apologies
  • Sorry for any trouble caused
  • We are very sorry

  • I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with
  • I find it most unsatisfactory that
  • I’d like to complain about

  • I’m fed up with (someone/something)
  • I am not happy with
  • I’m rather annoyed with

  • I look forward to hearing from you
  • If you require any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me
  • Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions

  • Give my love to
  • Hope to hear from you soon
  • Just give me a call if you have any questions
Signing off

  • Yours sincerely (Dear + name)
  • Yours faithfully (Dear Sir/Madam)
Signing off

  • Lots of love
  • All the best
  • Best wishes

Now good luck with the quiz below :-)

created by Tess Giordmaina

[ssquiz id=’12’ all]

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Proven Techniques to Improve your English Vocabulary

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You can improve your vocabulary in several different ways. When working to improve your vocabulary, it is important to know your goals. Are you preparing for a standardized test like TOEFL or GRE? In that case you will need a vast vocabulary. Improving your vocabulary is easy if you know your exact requirements and choose the right method. Here are some proven techniques to improve your English vocabulary.

1. Vocabulary Trees
Vocabulary trees make learning new words easy because they provide context. You can use them to improve your specific vocabulary. Once you have created a few vocabulary trees around specific themes, you will automatically start thinking in vocabulary groups.

2. Make word charts
You need to make a conscious effort to learn new words. Jot down unfamiliar words that you discover in magazines and newspapers and then look them up in a dictionary. Against each word, write down its definition. Remember that people who possess a commendable vocabulary actively pursue words. Review new words until they become quite familiar to you.

3. Use every available resource
Few people like to read dictionaries but if you can develop a taste for them, your vocabulary will improve within a few weeks. Now you don’t even need to buy dictionaries. Most dictionaries are now available online and they are even better than their paperbacks. Carry a pocket dictionary with you all the time. You can learn new words while waiting for buses or trains.

4. Play vocabulary games
Do crosswords and play word games with your friends and family members. If you are an imaginative person, you will not have much difficulty building fun vocabulary games.

5. Use a thesaurus
A thesaurus is a different kind of dictionary. It groups words according to their meaning. A thesaurus can be quite helpful if you are preparing for vocabulary tests.

6. Learn the roots
A large number of English words have Greek or Latin roots. If you know these roots you will be able to guess the meaning of words built with them.

Author info:
Manjusha Nambiar is an ESL tutor and content developer. She gives English vocabulary lessons and formal letter writing tips at her site perfectyourenglish.com.

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