Advance your spoken and written Arabic skills through community service and immersion in Moroccan culture.
Develop your Arabic skills rapidly through intensive study, field exercises, and interactions with native speakers.
Whether your level is beginning or advanced, you’ll receive 45 hours of classroom instruction in Modern Standard Arabic in small groups. You’ll hone your language skills during weekly office hours with language instructors, homestays, and outings. You’ll also receive two sessions of survival Moroccan Arabic (Darija) instruction during orientation, with short lessons provided later, as needed.
Learn at the level that’s right for you.
Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing for non-beginners, you will be placed in a course at one of three language levels—beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Beginners learn to communicate on everyday themes while gaining a solid understanding of the grammatical and structural aspects of the language. Intermediate speakers focus on vocabulary acquisition and syntax useful for drafting paragraphs with grammatically complex sentences. Advanced speakers focus on expressing critical and analytical opinions, reading advanced texts, developing stylistic and structural competencies in writing, and gaining language skills to discuss abstract topics such as culture, politics, and society.
Practice your language skills in the community.
Much of the learning experience takes place outside the classroom, to better immerse you in Moroccan culture and an Arabic-speaking context. You will go on frequent outings within the community to practice your Arabic. Bargain with shopkeepers in souks, order mint tea in cafés, and learn about Moroccan history and arts at museums and monuments. You’ll also engage in group discussions with Moroccan university students.
Explore a specific academic or cultural interest on a topic related to Morocco for the Arabic Writing Seminar.
To help you prepare to write, the seminar includes sessions with guest speakers. These sessions are on a range of multidisciplinary topics to help you select a topic for your final paper. The academic director and other supervisors will help you frame your papers and learn techniques to develop a paper in Arabic.
Work with a Moroccan NGO for the Community Service Project.
Gain practical work experience at an NGO dealing with social, environmental, human rights, education, or healthcare issues. You will also attend a related weekly course focused on ethics and the cross-cultural experience, fieldwork methods, and writing an academic paper.
Experience Moroccan culture through hands-on activities such as cooking, calligraphy, and costuming.
Live with a host family for six weeks in Rabat’s centuries-old historic medina.
Visit historical sites throughout Morocco, such as Meknes, Volubilis, and Fes.
Explore small towns in the Rif Mountains, such as Chefchaouen and Ouezzane, and experience rural life in a nearby village.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- Modern Standard Arabic
- Functional expressions in Moroccan Arabic (Darija)
- The writing skills necessary to produce a short research paper in Arabic
The following syllabi are representative of 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.
Fes, Meknes, and Volubilis
Walk through the labyrinth of ninth-century Fes, the oldest Islamic city in the country, and learn about the dynasties that ruled Morocco. A visit to Meknes allows you to enter a seventeenth-century mosque and visit the granary of Moulay Ismail, the founder of the present dynasty. See the Roman ruins of Volubilis, the best preserved in the country.
Experience simple traditional living, a contrast to the urban life in Rabat. The excursion includes a short homestay with a family in a village near Ouezzane. There, you will participate in a community service project with a local NGO, a group discussion with the villagers, and a hiking activity to explore the natural richness of the region.
Travel to the inland mountain town of Chefchaouen, known for its striking blue buildings, and spend time exploring on your own.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Badrdine Boulaid, MA, Academic Director
Badrdine has a BA in English studies with a major in linguistics and translation from the University Ibn Tofail in Kenitra and an MA in cross-cultural studies from Mohammed V University in Rabat. Badrdine has been involved, as language professor and program coordinator, with multiple SIT Study Abroad programs in Morocco since 2005. He is also a study group leader and in-country program coordinator for The Experiment in International Living, Road Scholar, City College of New York, Semester at Sea, and Volunteers for International Partnership. He is a trainer in cross-cultural education and teaching Arabic to non-native speakers. He has experience in intercultural learning, gender dynamics, leadership, and cross-cultural dialogue and is committed to the values of cross-cultural interaction and dialogue that SIT promotes. As a language professor and civic activist, he feels that learning languages and participating in community service contribute to better communication between people. Badrdine designs the academic and field-based components of the program, administers the program as a whole, and acts as a resource and guide for each student.
He enjoys traveling, reading, cross-cultural exchange, music, tennis, and soccer.
Abdelhay Moudden, PhD, Senior Advisor
Abdelhay earned his PhD in political science from the University of Michigan and has been professor of political science and international relations at Mohamed V University since 1978. He was academic director of SIT’s Multiculturalism and Human Rights program in Morocco from 1992 to 2013. In 1995, he founded the Center for Cross Cultural Learning and is its academic director. In 2013, he became senior advisor to SIT programs in Morocco. Abdelhay is a member of the Consultative Council on Human Rights and was a member of the Moroccan Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2004–2005). He has published 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, MA, Program Assistant
Widad received a BA in 2009 from Sultan Moulay Slimane University of Beni Mellal, and a master’s degree in 2013 in communication in contexts from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Moulay Ismail, Meknes. She joined the Center for Cross Cultural Learning in 2014 as a program assistant. Her major interests include social sciences and cross-cultural activities. She adores reading, traveling, and theatre. Widad, from Beni Mellal, was born in Ait Attab and is the eldest of her sisters.
Doha Lmachichi, Homestay Coordinator
Doha holds a BA in Arabic language and literature from Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco. She has taught Modern Standard Arabic and the Darija dialect at the Center for Cross Cultural Learning since 1997. She is the homestay coordinator for all the programs at the center.
Doha was raised in Rabat’s medina, where most of the program’s host families are located; she knows every family with which the program works. She has coordinated SIT homestays for around a decade. She studies the profile of students and families before making assignments and remains a resource on homestay issues throughout the semester.
Bouchra Sahimda, Language Director
Bouchra received a BA in international relations from Mohammed V University’s Faculty of Law and brings years of language teaching experience to the classroom. She joined the Center for Cross Cultural Learning in 2003 as an Arabic instructor and became language coordinator in 2005. She supervises the Moroccan Arabic language placement test, meets regularly with language instructors and teaches when needed, and oversees the Moroccan Arabic program. She also supervises the training programs that are offered to new teachers on how to teach language to non-native speakers and is a certified ACTFL OPI tester from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
Mohammed Hassar, MD, Health Counselor
Mohammed is an internist, clinical pharmacologist, and emeritus professor at Rabat Medical School, from which he graduated in 1968. He directed the Institut National d’Hygiène and the Institut Pasteur du Maroc and developed an anti-poison and pharmacovigilance center; genetic units; and a food, water, and environmental safety center.
Mohammed served on several WHO committees and was on the governing board of the WHO-UMC for drug safety in Sweden for nine years. He was a board member of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes. His interests include rational drug use and drug safety, food safety, and biosafety, as well as capacity building in health research. He has been involved with SIT in Morocco since the late 1980s.
Farah Cherif D’Ouezzan, MA, Lecturer
Farah received a BA in Arabic language and literature and an MA in comparative literature and religion from Mohammed V University. She holds a postgraduate certificate from the International Women’s University in Hanover, Germany. Farah founded and directs the Center for Cross Cultural Learning. Farah has taught Arabic since 1989, including at Marlboro College and French and Moroccan schools in Morocco. She has taught for SIT since 1992 and wrote the textbooks used on SIT’s Morocco programs. Farah co-directed the SIT Morocco: Multiculturalism and Human Rights program, lectured on gender and religion, and advised students on ISPs. She was academic director of SIT’s summer Morocco program from 2004 to 2013.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
You will live for six weeks with a Moroccan family in Rabat. The family is the center of life in Morocco. Because 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 are part of a larger community; most residents know everyone within that community, and you will quickly become a part of the neighborhood’s life and will be greeted by neighbors and shopkeepers.
Through 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.
You will experience a short homestay with a traditional Moroccan family in a village near Ouezzane. There, 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.
The program usually concludes with a festive farewell dinner featuring a live musical performance to thank the host families.
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and Scholarships
SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers who instruct students in:
- Intensive Modern Standard Arabic
- 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.
Books & Supplies: $ 50
International Phone: Each student must bring a phone with them to their program.
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.