English Language in Morocco

March 2, 2013


Moroccan Arabic (also known as Darija) is the dominant language within Morocco.  It is different to Modern Standard Arabic as it has developed over time to include local variations and words from other languages within the borders of Morocco.  However, most Moroccan Arabic speakers are able to also understand Modern  Standard Arabic.


The Berber language is also spoken and this is divided into three main branches; Tachelhit, Tamazight and Tarifit and as Marrakech is enshrined in Berber history the language is still common within the city and the surrounding areas.


Then there is the French and Spanish languages.  Spanish is used mainly in the North whilst French is used mainly in the South; including Marrakech.  It is fair to say that many Moroccans speak 3 or more languages, some have received tuition and others have simply developed the language skills through listening.  Therefore the citizens of Morocco are not generally united through a common language and instead are used to different languages and have significant patience when communicating with people who merely know a few words and phrases.  Words are supplemented with drawings, hand signs and sometimes by asking passers by to assist.  This is ideal for people wishing to use their "school French" as it is not necessary to get all of the elements correct as generally the Moroccans can understand what you are saying with very little language structure.


English has an increasing priority.  English is now taught in school meaning the next generation of business people will be fluent in English.  This is not universally popular with the French especially as some schools appear to have prioritised English over French,  Within the tourist world there is increasing attention paid to English with menus and tourist information now being more common and English speaking guides are no longer the exception.


For those people interested in languages Morocco is fascinating as people flip flop from language to language and take it all in their stride.


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