People often ask me what is the biggest change I’ve noticed in Marrakech since I arrived some years ago. My answer sometimes surprises – English in Marrakech is now spoken everywhere. When I arrived this was patently not the case. In hotels as in the souks, the first words spoken to visitors were always in French. Now a visitor is greeted with “What are you looking for?” or “Take a look, please.” As Marrakech becomes progressively more open to international tourism, and less reliant on the French market, so the quick and clever businesspeople of this dynamic city have adapted their language in order to reach the widest possible audience.
And it is not just a greeting to lure you into a sense of homeliness. The sales people throughout the Medina and in the new town of Gueliz are remarkably proficient in their English conversation. Speaking English in Marrakech has never been easier. Menus and drink lists are printed in English. Websites and advertising focus more and more on the English speaking visitors.
In fact, English is progressing across the country and not just in Marrakech. The internationalisation of business and specifically through the internet have led to profound changes in Moroccan society’s approach to language. While Arabic and French remain the administrative languages of the country and are likely to do so for a long time to come, English is now the second language of choice for most Moroccans, as many recent surveys confirm – https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2015/03/153952/85-moroccans-want-english-first-foreign-language/
Within the city of Marrakech various expat groups are here to welcome the English speaking resident. The British Business Group – http://www.britishbusinessgroupmarrakech.com/about-us/ – provides support to the newly arrived and provides networking opportunities to those already well established here. The Internations organisation – originally a German concept – runs a relaxed and dynamic social hub where English is very much to the fore – https://www.internations.org/marrakech-expats
This development in the use of English offers plenty of potential to those who are not yet proficient in French or Arabic. The Hotel and Riad business is an obvious case in point. Yet outside the hospitality industry, many companies are looking to recruit native speakers too. And many private language schools offer work for teachers of English as a foreign language within the city of Marrakech. A quick google of “English Teaching Jobs in Marrakech” will prove my point.
So it would appear that speaking English in Marrakech has a bright and rosy future. Times were when not speaking French was a major handicap … and now people are scrambling to learn English. English speakers – the Kingdom of Morocco welcomes you!
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