[symple_box color=”blue” text_align=”left” width=”100%” float=”none”]Rachid Elmoutaouakel is a Master student at the faculty of Letters & Humanities in the university of Cadi Ayyad Marrakesh. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from the University of Mohammed V in Rabat. [/symple_box]
Given that English is a global language, the choice of French, as a second official language in Morocco, puts forward a myriad of controversial issues with regard to its qualification as being the language of science. The Moroccan government itself seems to take a new path through encouraging the use of English as a second language instead of French. In 2014, the Moroccan Minister of Higher Education Lahcen Daoudi, stressed on the necessity of learning English when saying that ‘‘anyone who does not master English, has no future’’.
According to the “Ethnologue: Languages of the World,” a comprehensive reference work cataloging all of the world’s known living languages, the total number of English speakers in the world exceeds 1 billion and two hundred million speakers, among which only 400 million are native English speakers. In his book, ‘English as a Global Language’, David Crystal views English as ‘the lingua franca’ of the world. Simply put, English is the most commonly used mean of communication among speakers whose mother tongue is not English.
Switching back to Morocco, I believe the need of the English language can be looked at, at least from three different angles.
At the intellectual level, English is the most widely used language in pretty much all kinds of sciences, including in almost all research fields. Millions of English books are published every year in anthropology, chemistry, education, history, linguistics, medicine, philosophy and physics, let alone that more than 50% of websites around the world are in English. Thus, in order to have access to the best digital libraries (like JSTORE, Bookshare, etc), Information Technology tools (such as Amazon, Google, IBM, Intel and Microsoft) and leading news agencies (including Associated Press and Reuters, etc) you need to be an English speaker. Indeed, the aforementioned factors resulted in some universities in Morocco incorporating the teaching of English for many offered majors of studies. A good example of that is Al Akhawayn University, deemed Morocco’s leading public, not-for-profit, coeducational university.
At the economical level, English is the key to be a strong competitor in the growing world’s market and create more job opportunities in the future. The FDI (Foreign direct investment) index classifies the USA and the UK among the main investing countries in Morocco, with a total investment for both countries together estimated at 15%. Many of the aforementioned investments are educational projects like American language Centers (11 centers in Morocco), British council (Rabat, Casablanca and Tangiers), AMIDEST (Rabat and Casablanca), American School (Casablanca, Marrakesh, Rabat and Tangier), George Washington Academy (Casablanca), American University of Leadership (Rabat) and University of New England (Tangier). Educationally, these institutions have brought new opportunities for Moroccans, including work opportunities for teachers.
At the cultural level, globalization has brought a new popular culture to the world. In Morocco, the status of English has been growing as “the language of Hollywood” and American pop music. American movies and songs revered by Moroccans are in high numbers . The influence of American media has increased the interest of Moroccans to learn English. A research conducted by Elizabeth S. Buckner, a researcher at Stanford University, titled ‘The Growth of English Language Learning in Morocco’, reveals that the learning of English is steadily growing in the kingdom as the two figures, taken from her research, underneath show.
There are other significant motives behind the urge to ditch French and welcome English in Morocco, like the political and touristic motives. The one could go on and on in this view stressing for example that English is the language of the world’s diplomacy and one of the five official languages of the United Nation, including the fact that Morocco has attracted many English speaking tourists from all over the world in the last decade.
To keep it short, I believe it is prime time for Morocco to ditch French and welcome English with open arms, welcome it with a cup of Moroccan minted tea and some of our country’s delicious biscuits.