English Versus French: Language Rivalry in Tunisia

English Versus French: Language Rivalry in Tunisia
John Battenburg
1 Fulbright, USIS-Tunis, State Department, Washington D.C. 20521-6360, USA

The Maghreb (Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco) has long been thought of as a francophone bastion. Even after independence in the 1950s and early 1960s, countries in this region continued to use French as a tool for modernization and development. Along with progress in Arabization, however, today English is emerging as another linguistic option. This article considers the competition between English and French in Tunisian educational institutions and programs. Two periods are examined in post-protectorate Tunisia: the introduction of English (1956–80) and the spread of English (1980–present). Recent developments in Tunisia in English language policy and planning suggest that the decline in French linguistic influence may be accompanied by a future decrease in French political and economic status.

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