The Algerian government is investing in the English language as a tool for the future.
In September, primary schools across the country have introduced English to Year 3 students, a move that brings it on par with French.
Many parents welcome this change.
“I’m the father of two children studying in primary school. Teaching English in primary school is sensible. We should prepare for it because most parents of Algerian students aren’t ready to teach English to their children in primary school.
It requires means for the students to join the classes and learn the language properly. And we here in Algeria, are lacking the means”, said Farouk Lazizi, father of two students in primary school.
For others, the decision is about moving away from French, a language associated with colonial times.
“This will be our first step away from the French language, which is characterised by administrative complications and has brought nothing. Well-off French people are starting to teach their children English . If you, a French person, are teaching your child English, then I should also have the choice to change the language I teach my son. I want to drop the language of the coloniser and adopt the language used worldwide”, said Hacene, father of a primary pupil in the capital, Algiers.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced the decision at a cabinet meeting on June 19th.
During the summer, the education ministry was in a race against time to implement the presidential instructions.
“It’s a good thing – God willing – that our children can speak foreign languages. We’re happy and we hope that our Algerian children will learn more, especially English, because we’re sick of French, the language of colonialism, we want to move forward”, said retired primary school teacher, El Hadi.
In Algeria, children have to learn four languages from primary school. These are Arabic, Berber, French and English.