July 19, 2020

Tips and tricks to learn Moroccan Arabic

By: Niko

This article is a part of series of other articles on how to learn Moroccan Arabic and it explains how to learn Moroccan Arabic in record time and contains all the best websites and resources to learn the Moroccan language. It contains useful information on how to learn and memorize new words quickly and also demonstrates language learning techniques that can be applied to learning virtually any language.

Learning languages has been my passion ever since I started traveling around the world ten years ago. I am currently learning my seventh language and I don’t plan on stopping learning new ones any time soon.

Some guys are good at sports, others have a flair for business, I learn languages faster than anyone I know.

I often see articles passing by online with catchy titles such as ”10 Tips To Learn Any Language From An Expert” or ”How do you learn a new language fast?” Although most of these articles are good and hold a lot of truths, they generally sell the idea that one has to study very hard and grind every day to learn a language in a short amount of time.

This is true but only if you don’t know where to start and what to learn. It’s important to cut the chase and learn only what is useful in a short and manageable amount of time.

This article is written with the goal of giving you a quick grasp of the Moroccan Arabic that is spoken all over Morocco.

I have lived and traveled around Morocco for a bit more than a year and a half and at first, it was a bit hard for me to communicate with people.

I assumed that everyone there spoke and understood classical Arabic but I was so wrong. I ended up spending a lot of time studying sentences that didn’t help me understand what people were saying.

Moroccan Arabic is actually similar to Creole in the sense that it’s a mix of many different languages ( mostly Arabic, French, Berber and Spanish). It’s so different from other dialects of Arabic that speakers from Saudi Arabia or Lebanon, for example, don’t understand it.

When I first arrived in Morocco, it seemed to me like people were always talking so fast and I had no idea where one word would end and where the next one would start. My first visit to the country eventually turned into a year of living and traveling there and I finally was able to learn the language.

Moroccan Arabic is a language that presented a whole new exciting challenge to my mind. I know I sound like a total language nerd now but let me tell you that learning this dialect was and still is one of the most exciting undertakings of my life.

I now have a broader understanding of the culture and I can have long lengthy conversations with Moroccans on topics ranging from sports to politics.

I wrote this guide with the intention of giving you the same set of techniques and methods I used to learn the language myself. I hope this article helps you reach a high level of proficiency in Moroccan Arabic and that it will help you enjoy the country as much as I did.

1. Is it hard to learn the Moroccan dialect of Arabic?

Let me answer that question by answering another question first.- Is it hard to learn Arabic?

If you look for this answer online you’ll find people saying that it’s one of the three hardest languages to learn in the world. They’ll usually explain their reasoning by saying that Arabic contains sounds that are very hard to pronounce by non-native speakers. I’m here to dispel that myth.

Learning Arabic is not harder than learning any other language. Of course, it contains sounds that are different but with a bit of practice and imitation skills, you’ll quickly be able to reproduce them and sound like a native speaker yourself.

It’s also important to realize that as daunting as learning Arabic sounds, the vocabulary of this speech is no more complex than the vocabulary of any other modern language. Learning Arabic is simply not as hard as you may think.

Now let’s get back to the original question- Is it hard to learn Moroccan Arabic or Derija as its colloquially called?

Well, the answer is yes and no but not for the reasons you may think. Let me explain: when people think about the Arabic language they often think it’s one language but it’s, in reality, a huge amount of dialects that are as different as French and Italian for example.

The difficulty in learning Moroccan Arabic stems from the fact that there is only a small amount of books or methods dedicated to that particular dialect. It’s hard to find good quality material to help you learn the colloquial language spoken in Morocco.

Learning Moroccan Arabic per se isn’t hard. Finding good books, videos or apps to learn it is. Luckily I’ve done that work for you already. I’m including at the end of this guide a list of the best books, apps, websites and YouTube channels to learn Moroccan Arabic.

2. How long does it take to learn Moroccan Arabic?

This will depend on whether you are in Morocco or not while studying Arabic. Assuming you are not already in the country and you want to start studying by yourself, it can take anywhere between a year to 3 years to reach a native speaker’s level of fluency.

If you are traveling in Morocco and you follow my method, I can guarantee it’s possible to speak Moroccan Arabic fluently within 3 to 4 months if you apply the tips and tricks I show in this guide.

Here are a few factors that will influence how long it takes you to learn Moroccan Arabic:

Your learning methods

We live in an era where learning a new language is not limited to a classroom setting. Although learning in a classroom environment had a lot of value 10 years ago, nowadays it’s far from being the most optimal way to learn a new language.

Reading written Arabic material on language learning websites like LingQ or listening to the radio in Moroccan Arabic on onlineradiobox can really speed up your learning process.

It’s also a good idea to watch Moroccan TV series on Youtube ( I’ll give you some awesome YouTube channels for this later in the article). A great method I would also recommend is to practice with a native speaker of Moroccan Arabic online at Italki.

What still remains the best learning method, in my opinion, is to travel to Morocco and completely immerse yourself in an environment where everyone speaks Moroccan Arabic while self-studying online (I’ll give you a detailed list of websites and apps you can use to do this).

The time you’ll dedicate to learning

Let’s face it, learning Moroccan Arabic will take time. However, let me share a little secret with you.

Memory works in a very funny way. Dedicating half an hour to studying Arabic every day for a week is much more effective than cramming 5-6 hours of intense studying on the weekend. Fluency comes from constant use. Newbies language learners often try to do big, deep dives on the weekends, but that’s too infrequent.

Regular repetition of words and sentences on a daily basis even if it’s only done during a short time span will be much more effective than trying to cram tons of new words at once in your brain.

I found from personal experience that studying Moroccan Arabic during two blocks of half an hour every day combined with a total immersion in the country is what worked best.

Your attitude and motivation

When it comes to learning languages, my approach is always the same; I get my hands on fun learning material that will keep me motivated and entertained while I study the language. If the material I use wouldn’t be fun, I would quickly lose motivation and focus.

One way I found was quite effective to stay motivated while studying Arabic was to watch Moroccan movies on YouTube with English subtitles. This is a fun and relaxing way to study the language and can be done easily providing you have an internet connection.

I listen to how the words are pronounced, get to see them used in very particular situations and I can them write them down immediately to review them later.

Learning Moroccan Arabic can be compared to taking care of your pet: you have to feed it, cuddle it, and take it out for a walk every once in a while. In the end, YOU will be the one to decide how quickly you become fluent in Arabic and how good your skills remain.


Niko

I'm a vagabond and a lover of wild untouched nature. I travel around the world in pursuit of beautiful inspiring landscapes and fascinating cultures. I'm always trying to learn and master the languages of the places I visit.I've been bitten by the travel bug eleven years ago and haven't stopped traveling since. Learn more about me at my website.


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