As the official language of some 26 Middle Eastern and North African countries, Arabic is one of the most spoken languages in the world and one of the officially recognized languages of international organizations such as NATO, the United Nations, and the Arab League. If learning Arabic is one of your goals, consider a stay in Morocco to make it happen.
People learn Arabic for all kinds of reasons: work, family, religion and even travel. And what could be more interesting than learning Arabic in an Arabic-speaking country? Morocco offers a host of language institutes that not only provide excellent teaching staff but also let you complement your studies with cultural programs and fun tours to explore the local culture and Morocco’s incredible sights. Below, we go over all the details of learning Arabic in this fascinating country.
Why learning Arabic is a good idea
As one of the most spoken languages in the world and one of the United Nation’s six official languages, reasons for studying Arabic abound. But if you need some convincing, take a look at just some of them below:
- Arabic is the fifth most spoken native language in the world. It is the official language of more than 20 countries and there are well over 300 million native speakers of the language.
- Arabic is the liturgical language of Islam. In addition to the millions of native speakers, many more millions know Arabic as a foreign language because it is the language of the Quran.
- There is a high demand and low supply of Arabic speakers in the Western world. With the growing importance of the Middle East in international affairs, there is a high demand for Arabic speakers in the Western world but few have ventured to learn the language. This offers you many employment opportunities in journalism, translation, international law, teaching, research and other areas.
- Learning Arabic makes you more marketable in the academic world. If you’re looking to apply to a graduate or postgraduate degree in Religious Studies, Linguistics, Middle East Studies, Political Science or other related fields, knowing Arabic can give you the upper hand and make you stand out among other potential candidates.
- Learning Arabic will open you up to a whole new world. Arab civilization has made astounding contributions to the world in areas like algebra, medicine, geometry, philosophy and poetry. Learning Arabic will help introduce you to a rich civilization that is unfortunately sometimes misrepresented and oversimplified in the mainstream media.
- You will be fully immersed in the culture. Studying Arabic in an Arabic-speaking country such as Morocco will help you become fully immersed in Arabic language and culture. You can practice what you learn on a daily basis.
How to go about learning Arabic in Morocco?
So now you know you want to study Arabic in Morocco but you are not sure how to start planning for it. Here are some things you can think about to figure out exactly how you want to immerse yourself in the intriguing world of Arabic language:
- Choose exactly what you want to study. There are two types of Arabic taught in Morocco: Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Colloquial Moroccan Arabic (CMA). MSA is the standardized and literary variety of Arabic used in writing and most formal speech across the Middle East, North Africa and Horn of Africa, but it is not spoken in daily life. CMA, also known as Darija, is a spoken variety of Arabic used in Morocco and commonly understood in Algeria and Tunisia as well.
- Pick where you want to study. There are language institutes spread across all of Morocco and it’s up to you where you decide to study. Whether it’s in the bustling medina of Marrakesh, in the intellectual capital of Fez, in the Imperial City of Meknes, or in the cosmopolitan hub of Rabat, there are plenty of cities to choose from.
- Choose your perks. Besides excellent teaching staff and Arabic lessons, many language institutes also offer extras such as free meals, local excursions, tours of Morocco, academic clubs and even help with finding accommodation and learning to live in Morocco. We look over some of these institutes below.
- Decide how much you want to spend. Different language institutes offer different fees. From private institutes to public language and cultural centers, each school offers different services and different tuition prices. Princes range from USD$500 to up to USD$9,000, and more. Remember learning Arabic is an investment in your future.
Where to learn Arabic in Morocco?
There are numerous language institutes throughout Morocco and many of them offer excellent conditions for learning Arabic while being immersed in the wonderful Moroccan culture. Below, we will take a look at some of the best language institutes in Morocco’s main cities.
Center for Language and Culture (Marrakesh): Set in one of Morocco’s largest cities, this language institute offers qualified teaching staff and an intensive immersion into the fascinating world of Arabic language. With courses running year-round, the Center for Language and Culture uses a communicative approach which seeks to get students to communicate as naturally and as early as possible in the learning process. The institute also helps students find accommodation and provides fun tours to explore Morocco. The CLC has agreements with some universities in the US so it may be possible to not only get credit but also support.
Arabic Language Institute in Fez (ALIF): Established some 30 years ago, ALIF is one of the oldest Arabic schools in Morocco. It offers an 11-level program in MSA ranging from an Introductory Course which focuses on script and pronunciation to the Upper Advanced Level where students can use their advanced MSA skills to explore stylistic aspects of different literary genres. The institute’s holistic approach allows student to develop their MSA and CMA language skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening and provides cultural tours, lectures and classes on Maghrebi literature and Islam.
Qalam wa Lawh Center for Arabic Studies (Rabat): Located in Morocco’s capital, this language institute has a reputation for excellence in providing a comprehensive and intensive MSA and CMA program. With small classes (average of 6 to 8 students) and six- and twelve-week programs available for all levels, Qalam wa Lawh Center for Arabic Studies also offers cultural programs, local excursions and academic clubs to fully immerse students in Arabic culture.
Arabic American Language in Institute in Morocco (Meknes): This private language institute in one of Morocco’s Imperial Cities is accredited by the Moroccan Ministry of Education and has US offices in Virginia. It offers all levels of Arabic study throughout the year and, in addition to tuition, fees also include accommodation, two meals per day and cultural excursions.
If you’re not sure which of these cities is a good fit why not watch and read our insider’s guides to get a feel for them?
When to learn Arabic in Morocco?
Many of these language schools offer year-round programs for winter, spring and summer semesters so it is almost always up to you to decide when to come to start learning Arabic in Morocco. Keep in mind not all levels may be available at all times of year.
The summer semester tends to be the most popular one for these schools as that is when most exchange programs take place. Classes will usually still be small but large enough for you to be able to engage with a variety of like-minded people who are in a similar situation to yours. However, if you are looking for a more intensive one-on-one experience, the winter and spring semesters are your safest bet for smaller classes and more focused learning.
If you need more information to make your decision, take a look at some of these resources below: