Moroccan Darija

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K-2 Classrooms

In Morocco, education policies are derived from the Ministry of Education.  In schools, principals and teachers have minimal engagement or inclusion in the process of educational policy-making.  All schools must meet the required guidelines and standards for student achievement through fulfilling the required content area instruction, submitting assessment benchmarks and meeting inspector visits – also a requirement for teacher salary increases.  The notion that teachers employ the home language Darija even if purely as an instructional method for oral interpretation and written translation of Standard Arabic has been rebutted by teachers and policy-makers alike.  However, the language policy inclusive of mother-tongue languages in Moroccan schools has been reserved and designated for Berber speakers.  Moroccan Darija is not deemed by the majority of the public as a “language” or an acceptable language in terms of teaching given the similarities with Arabic and the noble and dominance of standard Arabic.  Although every teacher observed for this project applied Darija directly or indirectly to clarify meaning, elicit student responses, provide directions for the purpose of instruction and/or discipline and interpret the Koran.  

The classroom structure relies heavily on students’ written production as a form of measurement and performance.  The increased tasks in writing give less weight to oral language development from K-2 grade classrooms, consequently, providing a classroom environment with a deficit in speaking with a critical analysis relative to the task.  The students’ outputs and tasks are oriented to assess respective memorization of content and structured production and penmanship in writing.  Students are expected to memorize, repeat and dictate from writing in order to produce the rehearsed responses orally.  This technique diminishes the process for student’s own responses with analytical or creative thinking.  Due to limitation of resources, space or ideology, classrooms are teacher-centered with explicit rules and norms for behavior and conformity.   The control of classrooms has led to teachers to dismiss the suggestion of pairing, grouping or allowing students to engage in oral tasks with open ended responses and/or higher order thinking questions addressing an essential or guiding question from diverse perspectives.  The classroom environments were not the most conducive to creativity, artistry or visually supportive to allow for students to engage in non-conformed methods of instruction nor allow for the stimulation of audio/visual/kinesthetic approaches often recommended and suggested by researched in early literacy development (K-2).  There are many relevant implications for practitioners and policy makers in Morocco to use oral language development in the students’ home language, one of which is students’ receptive and expressive language development in accordance with the cognitive demands would offer a richer language learning experience.  In such cases, the students’ engagement in the native language  initiates and promotes the experience of learning in early literacy,with a semantic mapping and connection through various modes.

Since, Moroccan schools are under strict guidelines for content, curriculum and assessments using only Arabic as the formal language of instruction, it is unlikely that their perception on language usage would shift to recognize the relevance of Darija as a language of instruction or a medium of instruction.  A classroom sample schedule from Moroccan public schools is provided below for grades 1-2 in which Arabic is the target language of instruction.  French is officially introduced in the 3rd grade, however, schools are permitted to implement an instructional period of French as early as Kindergarten and ordinarily private schools offer French as a primary or secondary language in either Kindergarten or first grade.

Sample Moroccan School Schedule 

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