Going to live in a country where English isn’t the first language is complicated. Going to live in a country where there is no set first language is even more complicated! And language in Morocco is extremely complicated! Obviously English is not the first language of Morocco. The first language for most residents of Morocco is Darija, a form of Arabic mixed with Spanish, French and Berber. Many people speak French at home as well, especially in the upper classes. In the rural areas, there are lots of people who speak Berber. Language is a mixed handbag here – and it’s not uncommon to hear more than one language come from the same person in the course of of one conversation (or even one sentence!)
Even though Darija is the first language of Morocco, no one attends school in Darija.
Most students (including Kal & Zaiyd) attend school in Classical Arabic and/or French. Public schools teach a lot of Arabic and a little French. Private schools teach about a 50/50 split. Mission or French schools teach a lot of French and a little Arabic. Then there are schools like mine, where students are taught in English all day, and receive a little French and a little Arabic.
Living in a society with this many languages going on is amazing to me. I love how the people around me – including my students – can switch from one language to another almost seamlessly. I learn so much from my students, including the importance of using their home language to help them understand certain concepts. One way I use this in my classroom is to identify numbers in 4 languages during Calendar time. We look at the “number of the day” in English, French, Arabic and Spanish (I have a student from Spain too!). It has been a great way to talk about the “tens part” and the “ones part” of a number word.