French has always been the dominant language of business, education, and politics in Tunisia, However, in the recent years, there has been a notable shift among young Tunisians away from French and towards English. Let me explain!
I know, you know, and we all know that English is the global language of business and technology. A lot of young Tunisians (and I’m talking specifically about the Gen Z) see English as the rescuer! A SUPER tool that might help them flee the country..
“French language is not cool anymore bro!”
shouted a friend in one of the discussions I was having around Rap music. To get a bit of context, I was having a quite nostalgic conversation with some old friends about the old good times and the old French Rap artists like Sniper, Rohff, Booba, NTM.. that we were listening to through cassettes and CDs.. “Ya hassra”!
When I moved to Qatar seven years ago, I realized that the French language is not that helpful here. I mean, you can have it in your pocket and show off when you hear a french speaking group of people.. “Salut, ça va.. Bah ouais je parle français..comment puis-je vous aider?” and it may sound sexy but you can’t be understood.. And you don’t have any kind of privilege if you have a good French and your English accent is sh#t. When it comes to business and work, a very good level of English is a must to get a very good job opportunity in the Gulf region.
The rise of social platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok has exposed Generation Z to English-language content on a daily basis, and many are eager to engage with this content and communicate with people from all over the world. And thanks to the proliferation of streaming services like Netflix and Spotify.. Movies, TV shows, and podcasts are easily more accessible than ever before. As a result, many young Tunisians are more comfortable using English in their daily lives than French.
The decline of French in Tunisia can also be attributed to political and cultural factors. French colonialism had a significant impact on our society, and for many years, French was seen as a symbol of oppression and domination. While French is still widely spoken and taught in schools, its status as the dominant language has been challenged in recent years. In this context, English is often seen as a neutral language that does not carry the same historical baggage as French.
It is worth noting that the shift towards English is not unique to Tunisia but is part of a broader global trend. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has announced that Algeria would start teaching English in primary schools very soon. Morocco is officially moving towards adopting the English language in teaching scientific subjects at all primary and middle school levels instead of French.
English has become the lingua franca of the internet, and its dominance is unlikely to be challenged anytime soon. So what are you waiting for? An official statement from the Ministry of Education? No way.. Study your Damn English to get a decent job abroad!