Taroudant, Morocco- The statement made by the Secretary General of the Independence Party Hamid Chabat in a video posted on YouTube on Saturday that “Morocco Should Adopt English as an Official Second Language” gained widespread popularity among social media users.
Regardless of the context and political motives that lead the Secretary General to turn his back to the language of the colonizer, which has been enjoying until now an important position in the schools and government of Morocco, I, personally, can only commend the Istiqlal leader’s brave political statement. I add my voice to that of many Moroccans who saw in Chabat’s announcement a way out of the huge difficulties that paralyze our education and economy.
As I made it clear in a previous article about the French language, (Moroccans and the complex of speaking French) French is equal to English, as are all languages of the world, as long as they are used for communication purposes.
Yet, we have to be pragmatic and strategic in choosing the language that best serves the needs of our society and the challenges of the world today. For this sole reason, English language offers the best opportunities for our education and economy to benefit from the chance to advance and catch up with the developing countries and economics of the world.
Recent statistics available online show that English is used by 55.5% of all the websites on the internet, while French is used by only 4%. The figures provided by UNESCO concerning the number of internet users by language show that English users outnumbered other users.
The Future of English?, a guide to forecasting the popularity of the English language in the 21st century, by David Graddol estimates that “eighty-five percent of international organizations now use English as one of their working languages.” The data provided by Gradol confirms the online statistics that place English as the language of publication par excellence. “English is the most widely used foreign language for book publication: over 60 countries publish titles in English,” the same source added.
These statistics and reports that call English the language of the future should be taken seriously. The problems that university students in our country face because of a lack of English proficiency when they have to write a research paper is striking evidence of the usefulness of English. Moroccan students, who for many reasons did not study English extensively, during their baccalaureate classes, found it hard to perform well in their university disciplines. Regardless of the courses they take, students at a certain level, require English, especially when conducting research, because the references they need are often in English.
This is the case for not only science students, but also art and humanities students. I remember how many of my friends at university who were studying Arabic linguistics stuck at their graduating year, because most of the sources about new linguistic theories were exclusively in English. Those who could understand the books written in English were able to come out with new research topics and managed to enroll in graduate programs.
English dominates universal information resources and provides the largest amount of data in printed and electronic materials. Therefore, to take advantage of the broadest information resources in many fields, namely science and technology, Morocco has to reconsider the position of English. The kingdom is invited more than ever to reinforce the teaching of English in schools and to adopt it as the medium of instruction in science subjects and as the language of business, finance and economics.
It seems nonsensical to keep our economy, culture and education subjected to those of France, which, some believe, is in decline, while the opportunity to catch up with the global language of business, diplomacy, and technology looms on the horizon.
Edited by Jessica Rohan
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