What to expect when you learn Arabic in Morocco

Arabic – a fascinating and beautiful language which has become one of the most important languages in the world, yet it is considered one of the most difficult. But is it really hard to learn Arabic? And is it possible to learn Arabic quickly?

The answers are yes, probably, and yes, absolutely. For years research has shown that those who immerse themselves in a language do pick it up quicker. That means heading to the place where it is commonly spoken and getting stuck in.

Easier said than done right? Not really, our language immersion holidays give students the chance to do just that without ever feeling overwhelmed or lonely.

By joining Arabic language lessons at a local language school, you’ll join lessons in the morning and then take your new skills out in to the town with you to put into practice.

The Guardian included this Arabic language course in Morocco as one of their 10 best language holidays around the world. Read The Guardian article here.

To find out what this is really like, we spoke to Zayd who works for our Arabic language school in Tetouan in northern Morocco and he told us what you can expect when you learn Arabic in Morocco.

First of all, what is the difference between standard Arabic and dialect?

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is based on classic Arabic to has been adapted for modern day speech, introducing new vocabulary, etc.

Dialects are what people use in their everyday lives and this varies depending on the country or region.

We have courses that cover both in this school but MSA is a good place to start.

Language students in an Arabic language lesson

What do students do during a typical Arabic language lesson?

Our language courses will always cover the four main language skills:

  • Listening activity
  • Reading activity: typically a reading comprehension exercise
  • Speaking activity: usually role plays or conversations
  • Writing activity: looking at mechanism and creativity

We have a clear objective which is that through these activities the student acquires the ability to communicate, to interact with their new environment, to express themselves and their needs.

What language learning techniques seem to help students the most?

Well, it does depend on the students’ response to and acceptance of any activity; also bringing their attention to the most important topics and building up an effective mechanism of communication requires an extra effort from the teacher.

The full success of a particular technique will mainly rely on the students’ interests and trainings, and it is through that the teacher must create a special personal relationship and understanding between them and the different students.

These are examples of techniques that our teachers usually use:

  • Language students doing pair work in classroomCultural, educational videos
  • Educational games
  • Expressive pictures
  • Films and documentaries (but only usually about two minutes long!)
  • Handcraft activities
  • Songs

It’s good to keep it varied!

How would you recommend preparing for an Arabic language course?

For the absolute beginners, there is no need for any prior training or preparation.

Students with elementary to pre-intermediate levels, we recommend a revision of vocabulary and their pronunciation in order to allow students to get used both to the correct construction of Arabic sentences and to reading small paragraphs.

As for the remaining higher levels, an overall revision is more than advised, specifically to pinpoint their recurring problems in Arabic so we can assist when they get here.

How much can students expect to learn in a week?

This completely depends on the ability of each student and several factors contribute to how much can be learnt in a short space of time. Sometimes these factors can be the ability to speak more than one language, also the extent of their openness to the new environment.

We encourage everyone to be linguistically, communicatively and culturally independent (according to the level they have reached obviously) and with this in mind, there are students who can complete a full chapter in two hours and others in six or even eight.

But we are patient and always here to help with any individual problems or concerns.

As a teacher, what are some of your preferred class activities?

I like to focus on the student’s favourite or habitual activities as it is easy for them to relate the language and context. Also, to think about social situations they might encounter, for example:

  • How to rent an apartment / a car
  • Buying books / tickets
  • Shopping
  • Cooking
  • Open social dialogues and conversations

So what’s the breakdown of classroom techniques in your school?

Students are so different and so are the methodologies and techniques that suit their learning. In general, there is a preference for pair work.

Arabic language students on day trip in Morocco

What are some of the optional activities your school offers to help people explore the city and meet other students?

We regularly do ‘tea and chat sessions’ in the school lounge with furniture and decorations highlighting the cultural, historical and artistic identity of Tetouan and its surroundings.

Other examples are field trips, excursions & outings in the local area, such as visits to museums and historical sites. Going to specific cultural events such as festivals and concerts.

And of course, there is always our Moroccan cooking workshops which students can add on to their language courses. In these sessions, not only will they make delicious local cuisine but they will have the chance to use and practise the language with local specific cooking terminology.

This Arabic language school offers a range of courses and durations in the town of Tetouan in northern Morocco. Click here to see their Modern Standard Arabic language course or choose to combine two skills and go for a learn Arabic and cooking course.

Or, feel free to explore all our language holidays here.