Morocco | Summer Abroad | Community Service | Derija | Rabat

Morocco: Arabic Language and Community Service (Summer)

Rapidly learn or advance your spoken and written Arabic language skills through community service and full immersion in Moroccan culture.

Based in Rabat, this multifaceted program offers Mod­ern Standard Arabic courses, an Arabic writing seminar, and a community service project with a local nongov­ernmental organization (NGO) or community-based association. Students at all levels—including beginners— hone their Arabic language skills through intensive language study in the classroom; onsite field exercises at souks, museums, and other settings throughout Morocco; and homestays.

Major topics of study include:

  • Modern Standard Arabic
  • Functional expressions in Moroccan Arabic (Darija)
  • The writing skills necessary to produce a short research paper in Arabic

Kasbah terrace in MoroccoThe SIT Morocco: Arabic Language and Community Service program offers you practical experience in an international framework as well as the opportunity to apply theory learned in the classroom to the real world. The Arabic language instruction, the introduction to Arabic researching and writing skills, and the community service project aim at helping you develop your academic and professional interests.

Modern Standard Arabic (Fus’ha) instruction

Following arrival, you will be placed in a course at one of three language levels—beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Whatever your level, you will receive a total of 45 hours of classroom instruction in Modern Standard Arabic in small group formats. You will have additional learning time during field exercises and weekly office hours with language instructors.

  • Beginner course: Learn to communicate on everyday themes while gaining a solid understanding of the grammatical and structural aspects of the language.
  • Intermediate course: Focus on the vocabulary necessary to produce and understand texts related to culture and literature as well as authentic real-life situations. Learn the syntactic structures useful for drafting paragraphs consisting of a variety of grammatically complex sentences.
  • Advanced course: Focus on expressing critical and analytical opinions through the use of different language functions. Read advanced texts, complete writing assignments designed to reinforce stylistic and structural competencies, and gain the language skills necessary to discuss abstract topics such as culture, politics, and society.

Introduction to Moroccan Arabic (Darija)

You will also receive two sessions of survival Moroccan Arabic (Darija) instruction during orientation and shorter lessons in Darija language reinforcement later in the program, as needed. Formal instruction in Darija is complemented by informal practice on excursions, during homestays, and during the community service period in Ouezzane.

Students participating in orientation in MoroccoField exercises

Much of the learning experience takes place outside the classroom to better immerse you in Moroccan culture and to allow you to benefit from being in an Arabic-speaking context. The program’s weekly field exercises may include outings to the following places:

  • Souks to practice bargaining and to increase contact with Moroccans 
  • Cafés or restaurants to practice ordering 
  • Museums and monuments to learn about important historical sites and handicrafts

You will be strongly encouraged to use Arabic outside the classroom, with your instructors, during excursions, with host families, and with local residents in the street. Language instructors normally travel with you and your group on excursions in order to continue language learning and cultural immersion.

Arabic Writing Seminar

You will have the opportunity to explore your academic and cultural interests on a topic related to Morocco through the Arabic Writing Seminar. The paper you will produce at the end of the program is an opportunity for you to apply many of the skills and insights you have gained during the program.

In order to help you be well prepared to produce this paper, the seminar includes a number of sessions and lectures in Arabic where you will meet guest speakers. These sessions are on a range of multidisciplinary topics designed to appeal to your interests and thus help you select a topic for your final papers in Arabic. Regular meetings with the academic director and supervisors will help you frame your papers and learn the methods and techniques needed to develop a paper in Arabic.

Community Service Project

Through the Community Service Project, you will gain practical work experience under both academic and professional supervision and guidance. You will be placed in NGOs working in different fields, such as society, environment, human rights, education, and healthcare. You will also attend a weekly course to combine practice and theory. The course focuses on ethics and the cross-cultural experience as well as on methods of fieldwork study and writing an academic paper. The course is structured in a way that will enable you to do community service while allowing contact hours for the accompanying course lectures and meeting sessions.

Access virtual library guide.

This interdisciplinary program consists of three courses: Arabic language instruction in Modern Standard Arabic, the Arabic Writing Seminar, and the Community Service Project.

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Arabic Writing Seminar – syllabus
(ARAB3050 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This course aims to introduce students with no prior background in the Arabic language to the writing skills necessary for the production of a short paper in Arabic. Students learn how to use an Arabic dictionary, an Arabic keyboard, the Web, and other study resources in Arabic. The content of this course is coordinated by the academic director and the Arabic department so students develop the skills required to produce a written paper in Arabic and perform an oral presentation—in Arabic—of their field study project. The approach of this course is based on combining Arabic language instruction with community service, while giving priority to students’ academic interests.
Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB1003-1503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB2003-2503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB3003-3503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
The course is designed to equip students with a proficiency level in spoken Modern Standard Arabic to prepare them to engage in everyday communication. The course integrates instruction in reading, writing, listening, grammar, vocabulary, and conversation. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing for non-beginners, students are placed in intensive beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes. Students also learn spoken Moroccan Arabic (Darija) during program orientation, and then during homestays, lectures, and site visits. Students with prior study in Arabic find reinforcement of Modern Standard Arabic through media such as newspapers, TV, and the Internet.
Community Service Project – syllabus
(PRAC3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
The community service course aims at allowing students to put their academic achievements and personal development into practice in order to gain knowledge and professional skills in their field of study. It helps students gain practical experience in an international framework and gives them the opportunity to develop a deeper interest in a specific field of professional development and to apply theory learned in the classroom to the real world. The course is an academically directed, for-credit, training program through which students gain practical work experience as a volunteer under both academic and professional supervision and guidance. Throughout the summer term, the course focuses on combining academic coursework with community service experience. These two strategies, theoretical and professional, are designed to complement each other. The course focuses on ethics and the cross-cultural experience as well as on methods of fieldwork study and of writing an academic paper. The course is structured to enable students to do community service while allowing contact hours for the accompanying course lectures and meeting sessions.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Community service project in Ouezzane.

your language skills while visiting historical sites such as Meknès, Volubilis, and Fès to explore Morocco’s history of dynasties and while visiting small towns, like Chefchaouen and Ouezzane, in the Rif Mountains. You will also be exposed to rural life during a village stay in the region of Ouezzane.. 

Highlights of the excursion include:

  • Fès, Meknès, and Volubilis. Walk through the labyrinth of the ninth-century Fès medina, the oldest Islamic city in the country, and learn about the different dynasties that ruled over Morocco. A visit to Meknès allows you to enter a seventeenth-century mosque and visit the granary of Moulay Ismail, the founder of the presently ruling dynasty. The visit to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, the best preserved in the country, is also a highlight of this trip.
  • Ouezzane. Experience a simple traditional life different from the one in Rabat. The excursion includes a short homestay with a rural family in the area of Ouezzane. During your stay here, you will complete a community service project with a local NGO that enables you to compare urban and rural development and civil society work. You will also visit the local souk accompanied by your Arabic instructors.
  • Chefchaouen. Travel to the mountain inland town of Chefchaouen, known for its striking blue buildings, and spend free time hiking and exploring it on your own. On the way back to Rabat, you will have the opportunity to relax and enjoy a swim in the Mediterranean Sea.

Badrdine BoulaidBadrdine Boulaid, Academic Director

Badrdine Boulaid joined the Center for Cross Cultural Learning (CCCL) as an Arabic teacher in 2005. He has taught Fus’ha (Modern Standard Arabic) and Darija (Moroccan dialect) to students of different levels, from novice low to advanced high. Additionally, he has worked as an assistant, moderator, group leader, and coordinator at the CCCL with other SIT Morocco programs: Multiculturalism and Human Rights, Migration Studies and Transnational Identity, and Field Studies in Journalism and New Media.

Badrdine has a bachelor of arts in English studies with a major in linguistics and translation from the University Ibn Tofail in Kenitra, and a master of arts in cross-cultural studies from Mohammed V University in Rabat. He has worked at the Thaqafat Association, a Moroccan association that works in partnership with The Experiment in International Living, as a volunteer program coordinator, president, and very recently as counselor.

Since 2007, Badrdine has been working as a trainer of newly hired staff members at the CCCL in the fields of cross-cultural education and teaching Arabic to non-native speakers. He has quite a rich experience and knowledge in the fields of intercultural learning, gender dynamics, leadership, and cross-cultural dialogue. His research interests include gender, linguistic and cultural diversity, cross-cultural communication, and translation.

Badrdine Boulaid enjoys traveling, reading, cross-cultural exchange, music, tennis, and soccer.

Abdelhay Moudden, PhD, Senior Advisor

Dr. Abdelhay Moudden earned his PhD in political science from the University of Michigan and has been a professor of political science and international relations at Mohamed V University in Rabat since 1978. He was the academic director of the SIT Study Abroad Multiculturalism and Human Rights program in Morocco from 1992 to 2013. In 1995, Dr. Moudden founded the Center for Cross Cultural Learning and since that time has served as the center’s academic director. In 2013, he was appointed senior advisor to SIT programs in Morocco. Dr. Moudden is a member of the Consultative Council on Human Rights and a former member of the Moroccan Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2004–2005). He has published several articles on Moroccan politics and culture and two novels, the latest of which, The Farewell Sermon, won the Morocco book award for 2004. 

Widad Mazrag, Program Assistant

Widad Mazrag is from Beni Mellal. She was born in Ait Attab and is the eldest of her sisters. She received a BA in 2009 from Sultan Moulay Slimane University of Beni Mellal and graduated in 2013 with a master’s degree in communication in contexts from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Moulay Ismail, Meknes. She joined the Center for Cross Cultural Learning in April 2014 and works as a program assistant. Her major interests include social sciences and cross-cultural activities. She also adores reading, traveling, and theatre.

Doha Lmachichi, Homestay Coordinator

Doha has worked for the Center for Cross Cultural Learning since 1997 as a language instructor in both Fu’sha (standard Arabic) and Darija (Moroccan dialect). She is the homestay coordinator for all the programs at the center.

Doha has been coordinating the program’s homestays for about a decade. She is a great resource for all issues pertaining to the homestays throughout the program. She organizes the homestay orientation for families and students so all have a good understanding of one another’s cultures. She also matches students with host families, helps students if they have any issues with their host family, and meets with students if they need to discuss cultural aspects of family life they do not understand.

Doha holds a BA in Arabic language and literature from Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco. She was born and raised in Rabat’s medina, where most of the program’s host families are located. Doha knows every family SIT works with.

Bouchra SahimdaBouchra Sahimda, Language Coordinator

Bouchra is responsible for supervising the Arabic language placement test, holding regular meetings with language instructors, teaching when needed, and overseeing the smooth progress of the Arabic language program. Along with other language instructors from the Center for Cross Cultural Learning (CCCL) — the program’s host institution — she brings years of language teaching experience to the classroom. 

Bouchra was born and raised in Rabat. She received a BA in international relations from Mohammed V University, Faculty of Law. She joined CCCL in 2003 as an Arabic instructor and then became the language coordinator in 2005.

Mohammed Hassar, MD, Health Counselor

Professor Mohammed Hassar is an internist, clinical pharmacologist, and emeritus professor at the Rabat Medical School, Morocco, from which he graduated in 1968. He served as director of the Institut National d’Hygiène, Rabat, from 1989 to 1993 and as director of the Institut Pasteur du Maroc, Casablanca, from 2001 to 2010. During his tenure, he started and developed several initiatives including an anti-poison and pharmacovigilance center; genetic units; and a food, water, and environmental safety center.

Professor Hassar has been active in global public health for the past two decades. He serves on several WHO committees and panels and has been on the governing board of the WHO-UMC for drug safety in Sweden for nine years. He was also a board member of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI).

His interests include rational drug use and drug safety, food safety, and biosafety, as well as capacity building in health research. He has given numerous lectures, has several publications, and has performed thesis supervision related to the above subjects.

He has been running SIT Study Abroad’s health orientation for students in Morocco, as well as delivering lectures on health issues, since the inception of SIT’s first program in Morocco in the late 1980s.

Farah Cherif D’Ouezzan, Lecturer

Farah Cherif D’Ouezzan received a BA in Arabic language and literature and an MA in comparative literature and religion from the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco. She also has a postgraduate certificate from the International Women’s University in Hanover, Germany. Farah is a founder of the Center for Cross Cultural Learning and has been the center’s director since its creation in 1995. Farah has been teaching Arabic to non-native speakers since 1989, and she has taught at SIT, Marlboro College, and various French and Moroccan schools in Morocco. She has taught Arabic for SIT Study Abroad programs in Morocco since 1992, and she is the author of Arabic language textbooks used on SIT’s Morocco programs. Farah has been a co-director of the SIT Morocco: Multiculturalism and Human Rights program, a lecturer on gender and religion for SIT, and an Independent Study Project (ISP) advisor for many SIT students. Farah was the academic director of SIT’s summer Morocco program from 2004 to 2013.

Live with Moroccan host families. 

Students with host families in MoroccoRabat: immersion in the city’s historic medina

You will live for six weeks with a Moroccan family in Rabat. The family is the center of life in Morocco, and most activities take place in the private sphere. As mealtimes are very important in Morocco, the program’s schedule allows you to share most lunches and dinners with your host family.

All host families live in Rabat’s centuries-old medina where most homes are in the Andalusian style, incorporating a courtyard and shared bathroom. Host families live as part of a larger community; most residents know everyone within that shared community, and you will quickly become a part of the neighborhood’s communal life and will be greeted by neighbors and shopkeepers.

Through interactions and shared experiences with members of your host family, you will become better accustomed to the sounds, tones, and gestures of Arabic. You will also experience Moroccan multilingualism, as many Moroccans commonly speak two or more languages.

Village stay

You will experience a short homestay with a traditional Moroccan family in a village in the area of Ouezzane. During your stay, you will complete a community service project with a local NGO and learn about rural Morocco, rural tourism, and sustainable development. These activities also give you the opportunity to practice your Arabic in new contexts with the locals.

The program usually concludes with a festive farewell dinner featuring a live musical performance to thank the host families.

Congrats to alumna Ibtihaj Muhammad who has made the US Olympic fencing team. Read her story!

Program Dates: Summer 2017

Program Arrival Date:  Jun 12, 2017

Program Departure Date:    Jul 31, 2017

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Apr 1, 2017

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $7,400

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who instruct students in:
    • Intensive Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)
    • Initiation to Moroccan Arabic
    • Moroccan culture (including Moroccan politics and economy, Islam, women and development issues, identity, and ethnicity)
  • All educational excursions to location such as Chefchaouen, Ouazzane, Fez, and Meknes
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period

Room & Board: $1,775

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Rabat), on all excursions, and during the evaluation period.
  • Homestay in Rabat and a short rural homestay near Ouezzane.
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad, directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare to Program Launch Site

International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Immunizations: Varies

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.


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