Morocco's low English proficiency levels blamed on its complex linguistic landscape

Morocco ranks among the very low category of the English Proficiency index, released to measure English language skills in the world. The low trends in Morocco are blamed on the country’s complex linguistic landscape.

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Mastering the English language is still a long-term objective for Moroccans. The trend is clearly highlighted by the ninth edition of the Education First English Proficiency Index, a ranking of English language skills by country.

The index’s 2019 list, released this week, includes 100 countries and regions, including Morocco, which makes it to the «very low» English proficiency trend for the third year in a row.  The ranking puts the Kingdom in the 76th place with a score of 47.19 out of 100.

Regionally, English proficiency in Morocco is ranked sixth among 13 African countries. In the Arab world, the North African country is positioned fourth, behind Tunisia 65th and the first in the region, the United Arab Emirates 70th, and Jordan 75th.

Meanwhile, Morocco ranks ahead of Egypt 77th, Qatar 80th, Syria 82nd, Kuwait 84th, Algeria 90th, Oman 92nd, Iraq 97th, Saudi Arabia 98th and Libya 100, the last country in the ranking.

Low English proficiency levels and the linguistic landscape in Morocco

Data complied by the index, however, shows that Morocco has seen slight decrease when it comes to mastering the English language. Since 2012, the country has been lagging behind. English proficiency trends in Morocco moved from a low level in 2012 to a very low one in 2013. Since then, numbers have been declining, moving from the 55th place in 2014 to 67th in 2018.

Although some Moroccans are still struggling with learning the English language, female learners remain the best, according to the index. While men have a score of 46.45 points, women have obtained 48.32 in Morocco. Regionally, women scored more than men in Africa with 50.60 vs 49.97.

Low English proficiency trends in Morocco are mainly related to the other languages that are largely present among Moroccans. The Education First report indicates that «Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia have complex linguistics landscapes, with local dialects of Arabic, Berber, French and Modern Standard Arabic all serving roles in private life, the education system and the public sphere».

To the writers of the report, the English language is trying to find a place within this diverse linguistic landscape. «English is a relative new comer to the mix, but it is increasingly valued, particularly for its neutrality and business potential», they added.

For the record, the English proficiency ranking for 2019 is topped by the Netherlands 1st, Sweden 2nd, Norway 3rd, Denmark 4th and Singapore 5th. Meanwhile, Ivory Coast 96, Iraq 97, Saudi Arabia 98, Kyrgyzstan 99 and Libya 100 are at the bottom of the list.

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