1. Bilingual Paradise / Babel Chaos, or, languages in Morocco
It was one of these chaotic, exhilarating trips that you enjoy, even when they don’t all go to plan. Morocco – with a mixture of official Arabic, its local dialect and French – is a linguist’s paradise. The most amazing feeling I had was that languages, just as stories, are fluid in this place, and every meeting may happen in a language you’d never expect. Fun times!
2. Speaking French in Morocco: worth it?
In a word, yes. Although one mustn’t always expect to succeed 🙂
The most basic interactions can probably be performed in English, as most people speak at least a bit of it. There were moments when I simply preferred English – making sure my tickets were for the correct date, for example. And there were also those embarrassing moments when people spoke English to me, even when I addressed them in French. D’oh.
Still, the country is a pretty good testing ground for French learners. The accent and dialect will differ, but nobody will expect perfect literary French from you, and this can be liberating.
3. How much did I learn?
The challenge brought at least two results, and I can see both of them clearly.
The first result involves language production: I found it a bit easier to speak after the learning I did. Although, to be honest, the best initiative came from the trip itself, and now that it’s over I’ll probably look for a speaking partner!
The more important result is the comprehension. I could easily follow most of the everyday conversations, announcements and newspaper articles. This boosted my confidence big-time, and made me enjoy my holiday a lot more.
4. But is 30 days enough?
You can probably learn just enough in 30 days to survive, although I predict a pretty painful month. It would be perfect if you didn’t have stuff getting in your way, too (you know, work, family…those little things 😉
For all other cases, I suggest taking more time than I did. Remember – for me, it was re-learning more than anything, and this worked OK. From scratch, this sounds like a tall order.
It was well worth it, though, and I’ll definitely use the lessons learned here in my other guerrilla language learning challenge.
Oh, and if you were wondering…go and visit Morocco. It’s magical.
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