In the past four years, Tunisia has gone from “where’s that?” to “where it’s at” in the Arab world. The Arab Spring of 2011 began in Tunisia and culminated in the establishment of a democratic government there. This feat prompted The Economist to name Tunisia “Country of the Year” in 2014 and earned it much praise from other democracies around the world.
For TEFL teachers interested in Arab culture and current events, then, Tunisia is one of the most interesting choices of countries in which to live and teach. Although it’s situated in a volatile part of the world, Tunisia has managed to escape the violence that plagues so much of the region.
The Tunisian people have taken the momentous changes of the last four years calmly and in their stride. On the Mondays after the three elections of late 2014 there were no riotous celebrations, no massive rallies and no pro-democracy demonstrations. Instead, people went to work or school as usual and hoped, quietly, that the political changes would soon translate into economic development.
Learning English is seen by many Tunisians as a way of preparing themselves for the prosperity they hope to see. The two biggest reasons my students give for wanting to learn English are 1) they hope it will help them get a good/better job, and 2) they hope it will lead to opportunities for study abroad. Business English and Academic English are thus popular specialties among ESL teachers there.