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Do They Speak English in Jordan?

Do They Speak English in Jordan

Key Takeaway Table

Quick FactsDetails
Official LanguageArabic
English Proficiency LevelModerate-High in urban areas, varies in rural regions
Places with Highest English ProficiencyAmman, Aqaba, Irbid
Reasons for English PopularityTourism, Education, Business

Introduction

Jordan, officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is an Arab nation located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Its rich history, spanning thousands of years, includes Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman influences. But what about its linguistic landscape? The primary language spoken is Arabic, but how prevalent is English? Let’s delve deeper into this topic.

The Historical Context

Understanding the presence and proficiency of English in Jordan requires a quick look back at its history. Jordan was once under British mandate, from the aftermath of World War I until its independence in 1946.

Brief Historical Timeline:

  • 1921 – Emirate of Transjordan established under British protection.
  • 1946 – Gains full independence, becoming the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Due to this period of British influence, English was introduced to the nation and has since remained as an important second language.

The Official Language: Arabic

Arabic is the official language of Jordan. It’s the medium of instruction in schools, the language of government and media, and the most widely spoken language in daily life.

Varieties of Arabic in Jordan:

  1. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA): Used in formal settings, news broadcasts, and education.
  2. Jordanian Arabic: The colloquial form spoken by the locals in daily life. It has its own set of dialects varying from one region to another.
Arabic Dialects in JordanRegions
Urban JordanianAmman, Zarqa, Irbid
Bedouin JordanianRural and desert areas
Northwestern JordanianAjloun, Jerash

English Proficiency in Jordan

While Arabic dominates the linguistic scene in Jordan, English plays a significant role, especially in the fields of tourism, education, and business.

Education System and English

From a young age, Jordanians are exposed to English. It’s a mandatory subject in schools from the first grade onwards.

  • Primary and Secondary Education: Students learn English as a second language. As they progress, the curriculum becomes more advanced, incorporating literature, science, and mathematics in English.
  • Tertiary Education: Many university courses, especially in disciplines like engineering, medicine, and business, are taught in English. This prepares students for the global market and further strengthens their proficiency.

Tourism and English

Jordan is home to several iconic tourist destinations such as Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea. As a result, the tourism sector necessitates a working knowledge of English to cater to international tourists.

  • Hotspots with English Speakers:
    • Petra: Known as the ‘Rose City’, tour guides are often bilingual or even multilingual.
    • Wadi Rum: Bedouin camps and tours are frequently conducted in English.
    • Dead Sea Resorts: Staff are generally proficient in English to cater to international guests.

Business and English

Jordan’s strategic location and its Free Trade Agreements have attracted multinational companies. English, being the global business language, is essential for trade, negotiations, and corporate functions.

Business SectorsEnglish Relevance
Information TechnologyMany startups and tech companies operate in English.
Banking and FinanceEssential for international transactions and communications.
HealthcareFor research, international conferences, and medical literature.

Places with the Highest English Proficiency

The level of English proficiency varies across Jordan. Urban areas, with their concentration of educational institutions, businesses, and exposure to global culture, generally have a higher proficiency level compared to rural regions.

  1. Amman: The capital city, home to several universities and international businesses.
  2. Aqaba: A port city and tourist hub.
  3. Irbid: Known for its universities, especially Yarmouk University.

In Conclusion

While Arabic remains the heartbeat of Jordan’s linguistic identity, English has carved out a significant space for itself. Whether you’re a tourist exploring ancient ruins or a business professional looking to collaborate on a project, you’ll find English speakers in Jordan ready to communicate and connect.

If you’re planning to visit or work in Jordan, a basic understanding of Arabic is beneficial, but rest assured, English will serve you well in many situations.