Morocco is a North African country that provides endless options for language study abroad. Whether you explore the staggering souks, go on a hike in the Atlas Mountains, or travel through the Sahara by camel, the excursions you can take to practice your newly minted (or steadily improving) language skills will never be dull. Language programs in Morocco will give you the opportunity to learn languages that are in demand internationally. With cultural history influenced by the indigenous Berber people as well as Arabian and European culture, Morocco is an intersection of cultures and languages, making it an ideal place for language study abroad.
There are plenty of vibrant cities to choose from for language study in Morocco. While the more visited areas in Morocco are not as conservative as some locations, women attending a language program in Morocco who intend to visit religious sites (such as mosques) must bring a scarf or something to cover her head, and women should dress modestly (minimum 3/4 length shirts and nothing shorter than capris) out of respect and for personal safety at all times.
Rabat is the capital and fourth largest city, and also offers the greatest number of language programs in Morocco, through both Arabic and French language schools most frequently. AS one of the most important cities in Morocco, language study in Rabat is ideal for those seeking true cultural immersion and immense language skill development. With its UNESCO World Heritage Site souk, beaches that offer amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean, and the royal residence, there will always be something to do or see between classes.
Fes is the second largest city in Morocco, and is known as the medieval capital, because it displays the imperial beauty of Morocco within its labyrinth like walls. Fes is known to be one of the largest car-free urban zones in the world, so traveling by foot in the maze-like medina (city center) is a great way to practice your language skills. Fes offers a wide variety of language programs centered on the Arabic language, but not as many opportunities for French language learning.
Meknes is another popular location for Arabic language study in Morocco, but there are also intensive French language programs available in Meknes. With less tourism than Rabat and Fes, Meknes offers a solace that is different than the environment offered by other Moroccan cities. Due to lower levels of tourism, people in the city tend not to hassle foreigners nearly as much, making getting around and practicing Arabic or French a bit more of an authentic experience. Meknes is also known to be one of the most affordable cities in Morocco.
Language Programs in Morocco
While French is widely spoken, it still remains an unofficial second language of Morocco; although, there are still language schools that offer French language courses in Morocco. Arabic is the most dominant language spoken in Morocco; therefore, the best language programs in Morocco are centered on learning the Arabic language. Berber is another prominent, traditional language spoken in Morocco, and is becoming an increasingly prominent subject of study for younger local students. While not a language that most individuals will find themselves studying in Morocco, it is important for language learners to be aware of the Berber language as well as its history and use.
University Study Abroad is an excellent way to improve your language skills, whether Arabic or French, while also taking other courses that can count for credit at your home university. Exchange programs at universities in Morocco are available for a summer, semester, or even a full year. University language courses in Morocco are ideal for immersion, as you will become a student at a local university, and for sharpening speaking skills both in and out of the classroom.
Language Schools in Morocco are the best way to go if your goal is to drastically improve your fluency in Arabic or French. Language schools provide group classes as well as private lessons, that both meet for a few hours through the week. As weekends are typically left optional for language school students, excursions are often arranged to put new language skills to use. Language programs in Morocco last anywhere from a month to a semester. Keep in mind, in some situations, an eight week language course in Morocco is equivalent to a year of language study at your home university, which means language programs in Morocco can be quite rigorous.
Language Immersion Programs. Similar to a language school (but typically a shorter amount of time), language immersion programs in Morocco are the ultimate route for heightened learning in a short period of time. Usually lasting around three weeks (though they can last longer), language immersion programs are the optimal way to experience a culture and discover what it is like to speak a language in its native environment. Immersion programs, like most language programs in Morocco, provide students with opportunity to put their language skills to use in various social settings.
Scholarships & Costs
Along with numerous personal and professional benefits of studying Arabic abroad, scholarships are widely offered to students who want to attend Arabic language programs in Morocco because of the importance the language has in today’s global affairs. While French doesn’t always offer the same incentives, those interested in Arabic language study abroad will find it can be largely funded by government programs and scholarships. In order to get a scholarship, language programs must usually be at least one full year.
Program costs are largely determined by the level of scholarship support you receive as well as how long the language courses last. Intensive language programs in Morocco lasting a month will typically cost around $600, while a semester long program can cost up to $9,000.
Morocco is an affordable country to travel and live in. A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice from the medina typically costs only $1. Dinner will cost about $6 if you eat in the medina, where you can get local dishes from the food stalls, while eating at a restaurant will cost a little more, but will give you the opportunity to taste tagine, an infamous local dish.
Accommodation & Visas
Homestays are the most viable option in terms of housing for language students in Morocco. Both shared and private rooms are usually offered within the realm of homestays. Riads are another popular living arrangement provided by language programs in Morocco, and is essentially a guest house with beautiful Moroccan architecture and interior design. Both homestays and riads offer students the chance to experience Moroccan life in a very authentic way. Other possible housing arrangements include apartments and hotels, typically common for long and short-term programs respectively.
A visa is not required for students from the United States and most European nations who want to complete a language program in Morocco. If your program lasts longer than 90 days, however, then you will be required to get a residence permit; residence permits can be obtained from the police department in the town or city where you language school is located in Morocco. Regardless of the length of your language program in Morocco, you are required to have a passport that is valid for at least six months from your date of arrival to enter the country.
Benefits & Challenges
Low-Cost Language. The U.S. considers Arabic to be a language of strategic importance, and offers significant financial incentives for those who want to participate in Arabic language programs abroad. Clearly, learning Arabic will have immense payoffs, both for your future and for your wallet, when it comes time to pay for language courses.
Scenery & Souks. Immersion programs as well as language schools in Morocco typically plan weekend or day long excursions, or will help students to plan their own as much as possible. Whether it is exploring the natural wonders of Morocco or visiting all the souks in other cities, there is always something new to experience while learning a new language in Morocco.
Male-Dominant Medinas. While Morocco remains a safe place for language study abroad, the male-dominant culture can be a challenge for some, particularly for female students. By traveling in groups (especially with male counterparts), the odds of getting catcalled considerably decreases and will make any woman’s day out on the town much more enjoyable.