The Tunisian-British Friendship Association organised on Friday morning, a breakfast discussion event on the theme “English language in Tunisia … the way forward?” under the patronage of Tunisian Minister of Education and honorary guest Hatem Ben Salem with attendance of education officials, academics, business leaders and a parliament MP.
In her welcoming address, President of the Tunisian-British Friendship Association Mrs. Hamida Mrabet said that our gathering is an opportunity to discuss and take stock of the English language learning situation in Tunisia. It also provides the occasion to study ways and means to reconsider the English language since it is an important tool of communication for Tunisians in their daily life and in all fields especially for young people who are seeking a better social promotion through education be it secondary education or academic studies.
It is urgently necessary to encourage the English language learning in Tunisia, Mrs. Hamida Mrabet said, wondering about the means to improve the quality of the English language teaching.
In this connection, she started the debate by asking a set of questions while seeking answers from the participants in this meeting. These questions are about the right time of starting English learning, the target of English learning citing mainly the example of staff in companies.
Besides, Mrabet aroused the issue of teaching by local teachers or by native speakers, which is according to her an essential tool for learning English so as to better master the language from its own source. The English language is a whole context of history, culture and civilisation, she emphasised.
In turn, Vice-president of the Tunisian-British Friendship Association David Wilson said that efforts are exerted to offer university level education for those who wish to have degrees recognized by the British universities.
The future of English in Tunisia is promising because Tunisians are bilingual which is easier for them to learn the English language, he highlighted.
Referring to the Tunisian-British Friendship Association, he said that it is founded on the basis of friendship, but also on the basis of cultural and educational exchange.
For his part, Education Minister Hatem Ben Salem said that the English language teaching is an important pillar for the educational system in Tunisia.
In 2009 and 2010 the English language teaching has a crucial place in the Tunisian educational system and the focal point of the reform during that period was the English language learning starting from the third year of primary school, he underlined, noting that “today it is taught in the sixth year of primary education.
However, the reform predicted that the third year is most suitable to establish this education of English language learning, the Minister said.
As a matter of fact, we obviously set strategic objectives because it is easy to say “we will teach English but when we did not provide the necessary conditions for this education it is impossible to do it” Hatem Ben Salem indicated.
The Minister of Education said that a real cooperation with the British council was established at that time (2009-2010). For the first time, it was decided that the British council will pay the teaching of English in Tunisia where as in the world it is the contrary, the British council is paid for teaching English.
It was a courageous and exceptional step by the British council at that time, which gave hope to start a new strategy in English teaching in Tunisia, he went on saying.
Different experiences in the English language learning were reviewed by the participants on the occasion of the breakfast discussion. The speakers focused on the importance of English learning which requires more innovation and creation in the learning process particularly through the use of modern teaching methods.
They underlined the fact that it is not always appropriate to apply the same methodology to all learners, who have different objectives, environments and learning needs. Each teaching method is based on a particular vision of understanding the language or the learning process, they agreed.