Arabic Language & Culture in Morocco

  1. Program Details

    Learn Modern Standard Arabic in the classroom and Darija on the enchanting streets of Fez, considered Morocco's cultural capital city. On weekends, explore the imperial city of Meknes and the historic Fez medina, considered the oldest crafts and food market in the Arabic-speaking world.

    Location Fez, Morocco
    Term Academic Year, Fall Semester, Spring Semester, Summer Session
    Housing Homestay
    Credit Type Resident Credit
    Sponsor Learning Abroad Center

    Program Eligibility

    GPA 2.5
    Student Type UofM Students, Non UofM Students
    Student Year Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors
    Language No Language Prerequisite
  2.  
  3. About Arabic Language & Culture in Morocco

    Explore madrasas, fonduks, palaces, and 13th Century ruins. Take intensive Modern Standard Arabic and fascinating cultural courses. Live with warm and welcoming host families. Surround yourself with Arabic. On weekends, travel to the imperial city of Meknes, the capital city of Rabat, and the hypnotizing markets of Marrakesh.

    Fez's medina, declared an UNESCO world heritage site in 1981, is one of the largest and most enduring Medieval Islamic settlements in the world. Experience the complexity of modern and ancient Morocco in the cultural and spiritual city of Fez. All classes are held in a large villa surrounded by a lush garden and patio in the modern Ville Nouvelle neighborhood.

    The University of Minnesota partners with the Arabic Language Institute in Fez (ALIF), the preeminent institution in the Maghreb for teaching Arabic as a foreign language.

    ALIF has many clubs students can join—photography, film, book club, etc., in addition to a service-learning club where students can get involved with volunteer and service-learning opportunities that support the local populations in Fez.

    Housing & Meals

    Homestays are an integral component of the Arabic Language & Culture in Morocco program learning experience. All students live and share most meals with Moroccan families. Students can choose to live either in the old medina or in the modern part of Fez.

    Medina

    The Medina is the old walled city of Fez (UNESCO World Heritage site), and is usually the preferred place to live for our students. Living in the Medina offers students a greater opportunity to be immersed in the local culture, and it offers a unique experience that would be difficult to replicate elsewhere. The Medina is about a 30 minute walk to ALIF, where classes are held, but students often just take a taxi, which is about 5 minutes and 5-10 dirham. When a person first enters the Medina, it can seem maze-like and might be a bit overwhelming with all of the shops, markets, restaurants, and people. It also tends to be a bit more noisy due to the level of activity.

    Ville Nouvelle

    The Ville Nouvelle is the "newer" part of town, and is where ALIF is located. Homestays here tend to be a bit more modern, and would be more similar to apartment living in the United States (more so than the Medina, anyway). The Ville Nouvelle has more of a city feel, since it is not walled off like the Medina. Since students usually elect to live in the Medina and ALIF hosts evening and weekend events at their Riad in the Medina, students can feel less connected if they live in the Ville Nouvelle and will need to travel a greater distance to participate in cultural events.

    Excursions

    Excursions may include a walking tour of Fez (including the medina) a visit to Volubilis, the site of Roman ruins, a visit to neighboring Meknes, Mid-Atlas Mountains, and a Sahara desert tour overnight.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Strengthen Arabic language skills
    • Enhance cross-cultural understanding and communication skills through interaction with Moroccan society including local students, host families, and community members
    • Gain Moroccan and international perspectives on academic disciplines
    • Develop professional skills through increased independence and self-reliance

    Faculty & Staff

    Abdellatif Jai

    Abdellatif Jai

    Abdellatif is Coordinator of the Arabic Language Institute in Fez (ALIF), one of the Maghreb’s most prestigious Arabic language facilities and site of the Learning Abroad Center’s Arabic Language & Culture in Morocco program, and Resident Director of the program. He has worked with ALIF for more than ten years. His staff oversee ALIF’s student services, including orientation, excursions, and housing arrangements as well as academic coursework in Colloquial Moroccan Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, and elective coursework taught in English and Arabic. Abdellatif has a BA in English, an MA in English/Arabic Linguistics and Translation, and is currently working on his PhD in Omissions/Additions in Legal Translation.

    David Amster

    David Amster

    David is Director of the Arabic Language Institute in Fez (ALIF), and has served in this role since 1997.  He holds a BA in Greek and Latin Language & Literature and an MA in TESOL/Applied Linguistics. Aside from his work at ALIF, David is very much invloved in the preservation of cultural heritage in Fez, and enjoys restoring historic houses in the Medina of Fez. 

    All courses are taught by Moroccan faculty members from local universities. ALIF's instructors hail from prestigious modern state universities in Morocco, like Mohammed V in Rabat, and traditional institutions such as the Qarawiyyin University, an Islamic institution of higher learning in Fez.

    About the Learning Abroad Center

    Learning Abroad Center programs are:

    • Affordable: our programs are cost effective.
    • Academically strong: many programs have strong University of Minnesota departmental support and offer pre-approved courses for many majors.
    • Culturally rich: regardless of the program you choose, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.
    • Expertly managed: our staff in Minnesota and abroad are trained professionals and are always available to answer your questions from extensive pre-departure advising and online orientations to reentry programming. Your safety and well-being are paramount, and we work hard to ensure you have a rewarding and safe experience abroad.
  4. Program Structure

    Program Type Field Study, Study Abroad Center
    Program Level 1000–3000 levels
    Courseload

    15–18 credits for each semester, 7 credits for each summer session term, 11 credits for the 9-week intensive summer session

    Coursework

    Course Options

    The courses on this program are designed for rapid Arabic language acquisition and development and are intensive in nature. Language courses typically carry 20 classroom hours per week (120 hours per 6-week term). Additional topics courses on various aspects of Moroccan culture and society provide insight into the local culture.

    Students can also engage in volunteer, service-learning, or internship (AY only) opportunities in Fez.  Research options are also offered.

    Fall or Spring Semester

    • Two Arabic language courses (Modern Standard Arabic and/or Colloquial Moroccan Arabic) (required)
    • One English taught elective (required)
    • Optional - Directed Research (3 cr)
    • Advanced students can replace one language course with an Arabic-taught topics course
    • research scholarship available to UofM students

    Total: 15–18 credits

    Academic Year

    • Fall semester curriculum (see above)
    • Winter term: one Arabic language course (Modern Standard Arabic or Colloquial Moroccan Arabic)
    • Spring semester:
      • Two Arabic language courses
      • One English-taught elective
      • Internship OR directed research (research scholarship available to UofM students)

    Total: 36–42 credits

    Summer

    Summer Session 6-week
    • One language course (Modern Standard Arabic or Colloquial Moroccan Arabic); equals 1 semester of language development
    • MRCO 3599: Morocco in Context (1 credit)

    Total: 7 credits

    Summer Session 9-Week
    • Accelerated language course (Modern Standard Arabic); equals 2 semesters of language development
    • MRCO 3599: Morocco in Context (1 credit)

    Total: 11 credits

  5. Options include: language courses, topics courses in English, topics courses in Arabic

    Arabic Language Courses

    • ALIF Arabic courses are offered in 6-week terms. Students select 1 language class for each 6-week term
    • Students are tested upon arrival and placed according to their linguistic level
    • Students interested in Colloquial Moroccan Arabic are encouraged to enroll in this course in the first 6-week term

    Fall & Spring Semesters, Summer 6-week Courses

    Accelerated Colloquial Moroccan Arabic I

    MRCO 1301

    Fall, Spring & Summer
    6 credits

    Providing a sound basis for the development of oral/aural skills in Colloquial Moroccan Arabic. This course is for students with no prior background in Arabic. Curriculum includes training in Arabic script. Empowers students to function in a wide variety of day-to-day situations with Moroccans. No language prerequisite. We recommend taking this course in the first 6-week term.

    Syllabus for Accelerated Colloquial Moroccan Arabic I (PDF)

    Accelerated Colloquial Moroccan Arabic II

    MRCO 2301

    Fall, Spring & Summer
    6 credits

    This course further expands your vocabulary base to permit reading of increasingly authentic texts from newspapers, journals and other sources such as Al-Kitaab Al-Assasi, while introducing controlled writing assignments. It will focus on listening comprehension and reading to facilitate interactive conversations on complex subjects. Prerequisite of Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic II. For students that have completed three semesters of Arabic language.

    Syllabus for Accelerated Colloquial Moroccan Arabic II (PDF)

    Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic I

    MRCO 1701

    Fall, Spring & Summer
    6 credits

    An entry-level course that uses a student-centered approach to introduce basic grammatical structures and sound patterns of Arabic, with attention to mastery of script, pronunciation, and listening comprehension. No language prerequisite. Perfect for complete beginners or students with 1–2 semesters of Arabic language background. This course is equivalent to ALIF's MSA 100/100x.

    Syllabus for Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic I (PDF)

    Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic II

    MRCO 2701

    Fall, Spring & Summer
    6 credits

    This course aims to expand vocabulary and further develop the 4 skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Lessons focus on reading comprehension and introducing more complex grammatical structures. Prerequisite of Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic I. For students with 3–4 semesters of Arabic language background. This course is equivalent to ALIF's MSA 200.

    Syllabus for Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic II (PDF)

    Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic III

    MRCO 3701

    Fall, Spring & Summer
    6 credits

    This course further expands your vocabulary base to permit reading of increasingly authentic texts from newspapers, journals and other sources such as Al-Kitaab Al-Assasi, while introducing controlled writing assignments. It will focus on listening comprehension and reading to facilitate interactive conversations on complex subjects. Prerequisite of Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic II. For students with 4–5 semesters of Arabic language background. This course is equivalent to ALIF's MSA 300.

    Syllabus for Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic III (PDF) 

    Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic IV

    MRCO 3702

    Fall, Spring & Summer
    6 credits

    This course will prepare you for independent study in MSA focusing on stylistic devices, vocabulary refinement, and communication skills. This course also makes use of additional texts from various sources in order to reinforce your ability to read and comprehend complex writings. Prerequisite of Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic III. For students with 5–6 semesters of Arabic language background. This course is equivalent to ALIF's MSA 400.

    Syllabus for Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic IV (PDF)

    Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic V

    MRCO 3901

    Fall, Spring & Summer
    6 credits

    This course will further develop skills learned in Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic. It is ideal for scholars wishing to hone their ability to comprehend Arabic university lectures and to express themselves on technical subjects in speech and in writing. Prerequisite of Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic IV. For students that have completed 6–7 semesters of Arabic language. This course is equivalent to ALIF's MSA 500.

    Syllabus for Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic V (PDF)

    Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic VI

    MRCO 3902

    Fall, Spring & Summer
    6 credits

    Focused on stylistic aspects of different literary genres, this course uses a sampling of authentic texts drawn from both contemporary and classical sources and involves substantial writing assignments. Prerequisite of Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic V. For students with 7–8 semesters of Arabic language background. For the most advanced students. This course is equivalent to ALIF's MSA 600.

    Syllabus for Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic VI (PDF)  

    Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic VII

    MRCO 3903

    Fall, Spring & Summer
    6 credits

    This course will be a continuation of the skills learned in Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic VI. Prerequisite of Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic VI. For students with over eight semesters of Arabic language background. For the most advanced students. This course is equivalent to ALIF's MSA 700.

    Syllabus for Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic VII (PDF)

    Summer 9-week Courses

    These courses allow for 2 semesters of language progress.

    Intensive Beginning Modern Standard Arabic

    MRCO 1801

    Summer 9-week
    10 credits

    This course covers the material presented in MSA 100 and 200

    Syllabus for Intensive Beginning Modern Standard Arabic (PDF)

    Intensive Low Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic
    MRCO 2801
    Summer 9-week
    10 Credits

    This course covers the material presented in MSA 200 & 300

    Syllabus for Intensive Low Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic (PDF)

    Intensive Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic
    MRCO 3801
    Summer 9-week
    10 Credits

    This course covers the material presented in MSA 300 & 400

    Syllabus for Intensive Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic (PDF)

    Intensive High Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic
    MRCO 3802
    Summer 9-week
    10 Credits

    This course covers the material presented in MSA 500 & 600

    Syllabus for Intensive High Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic (PDF)

    Intensive Advanced Modern Standard Arabic
    MRCO 3804
    Summer 9-week
    10 Credits

    This course covers the material presented in MSA 600 & 700

    Syllabus for Intensive Advanced Modern Standard Arabic (PDF)

    Topics Courses—Taught in English

    These courses are offered in English exclusively to program participants. 

    Islam: Past & Present
    MRCO 3013
    Fall & Spring
    3 Credits

    This course will examine Islam and its influence in Morocco. Students will study Islam's historical roots and contemporary manifestations through a discussion of historical works, literature, and film. The course will provide a perspective on the different ways Islam is realized in Moroccan life including religion, customs, and politics. It will also address the Moroccan perception of Islam and its representation in the West. Taught in English. No prerequisite. Minimum of 3 students required to offer this course.

    Approved for Historical and Global Perspectives theme

    Syllabus for Islam: Past & Present (PDF)

    Morocco: Changes & Cultural Identities
    MRCO 3014
    Fall & Spring
    3 Credits

    The course examines the major social, cultural, political, and human rights transformations in Morocco over the last four decades, stressing the undergoing tensions between the secular liberals and conservatives (especially Islamists) across gender, religion, language, and sexual politics. Taught in English. No prerequisite. Minimum of 3 students required to offer this course.

    Approved for Civic Life & Ethics core and Global Perspectives theme

    Syllabus for Morocco: Changes & Cultural Identities (PDF) 

    Morocco in Context (Only offered in Summer, REQUIRED for all program participants)
    MRCO 3599
    Summer
    1 Credit

    Through weekly class meetings, short reflective papers, and short oral presentations, students will reflect upon and understand their experiences in Moroccan society. 

    Approved for Social Science and Global Perspectives theme

    Syllabus for Morocco in Context (PDF)

    Internship in Fez
    FOST 3XXX
    Spring (academic year students only)
    3 Credits

    Academic year students can participate in an internship experience during spring semester or complete a Directed Research project. Available only to academic year students.

    Syllabus for Internship in Fez (PDF)

    Directed Research
    MRCO 3993
    Fall & Spring
    3 Credits

    Semester-only students enroll in the required Morocco in Context course and pursue additional hours of directed research with a designated program faculty mentor for a total of 3 credits. Keep in mind that this results in a higher total credit load for the semester.

    Academic year students can pursue a directed research project instead of an internship during spring semester.

    Possible topics include:

    Islam: traditional and modern practices in Morocco diverse communities in Morocco changing role of women's rights and identities in Morocco

     

    Approved for Global Perspectives theme

    Syllabus for Directed Research (PDF)

    • local market economy and the role of the Medina
    • historic and modern music in Morocco
    • contemporary Moroccan authors and Moroccan identity
    • Berber culture and traditions in Morocco
    • Moroccan youth and identity
    • Fes: urban life and mobility
    • Moroccan media and social change
    • Moroccan educational system
    • Food production and climate change in Morocco

      Approved for Global Perspectives theme

      Syllabus for Directed Research (PDF)

    Topics Courses—Taught in Arabic

    Advanced Arabic students can substitute one of the courses below in place of their second Arabic language course

    Introduction to the Arabic Newspaper
    MRCO 3005
    Fall, Spring & Summer
    5 Credits or 3 Credits (Sum)

    In this course, you will be exposed to basic newspaper vocabulary and structure starting with analysis of headlines. Prerequisite of Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic III. This course is taught in Arabic and may not be available to all students each semester due to ALIF course timetables.

    Syllabus for Introduction to the Arabic Newspaper (PDF)

    Media Arabic
    MRCO 3006
    Fall, Spring & Summer
    5 Credits or 3 Credits (Sum)

    This course seeks to build a media vocabulary sufficient for you to grasp the theme of a newspaper article or news broadcast with minimal intervention of the dictionary. Includes graded newspaper readings from Middle Eastern dailies and taped material from Moroccan television and radio. Student will have typically completed 6 semesters of Arabic (prerequisite of Accelerated Modern Standard Arabic III). This course is taught in Arabic and may not be available to all students each semester due to ALIF course timetables.

    Syllabus for Media Arabic (PDF)

    Contemporary Maghrebi Literature
    MRCO 3010
    Fall, Spring & Summer
    Credits

    This course is a survey of modern Arabic literature by major North African authors focusing on the short-story genre with discussion of the cultural underpinnings of this literature as well as schools of criticism dealing with the authors in question. Knowledge of French and Maghrebi dialects is helpful but not obligatory. This course is taught in Arabic and may not be available to all students each semester due to ALIF course timetables.

    Approved for Literature core and Global Perspectives theme

    Syllabus for Contemporary Maghrebi Literature (PDF)

    Islamic Texts I
    MRCO 3011
    Fall, Spring & Summer
    5 Credits or 3 Credits (Sum)

    This course serves as an introduction to the Quran and the sciences related to it. Includes a survey of the history of the revelation (asbab at-tanzil) and compilation (tadwin) of the Quran, principles of correct recitation (tajwid), and discussion of exegesis (tafsir). This course is taught in Arabic and may not be available to all students each semester due to ALIF course timetables.

    Approved for Arts & Humanities and Global Perspectives theme

    Syllabus for Islamic Texts I (PDF)

    Islamic Texts II
    MRCO 3012
    Fall, Spring & Summer
    5 Credits or 3 Credits (Sum)

    This course serves as a broad introduction to the study of hadith, including historical backgrounds on the major compilations, and a broad overview of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) focusing on the four main schools (madhahib) of Sunni law. Authentic Islamic manuscripts are used as central texts, and emphasis is placed on stylistic aspects and essential terminology. This course is taught in Arabic and may not be available to all students each semester due to ALIF course timetables.

    Approved for Arts & Humanities and Global Perspectives theme.

    Syllabus for Islamic Texts II (PDF)

    Optional Online Course

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  6. Dates & Deadlines

    Submit the online application and complete the assigned application checklist according to the appropriate deadline:
    Program Term App Open Date Deadline*
    Fall 2019 Dec 1 May 15
    Depart US for Morocco Sep 5
    Arrival in Fez, beginning of on-site orientation Sep 6
    First day of classes Sep 11
    Fall Break Oct 23 – 28
    Final exams, program ends Dec 13
    Depart Morocco Dec 14
    Academic Year 2019-2020 Dec 1 May 15
    Depart US for Morocco Sep 5
    Arrival in Fez, beginning of on-site orientation Sep 6
    First Day of Classes Sep 11
    Fall Break Oct 23 – 28
    Final Exams Dec 13
    Winter Break Dec 14 – Jan 5
    Winter Course Jan 6 – Feb 18
    First day of classes Feb 24
    Spring Break Apr 4 – 7
    Final exams, program ends May 20
    Depart Morocco May 21
    Spring 2020 May 1 Nov 1
    Depart US for Morocco Feb 18
    Arrival in Fez, beginning of on-site orientation Feb 19
    First day of classes Feb 24
    Spring Break Apr 4 – 7
    Final exams, program ends May 20
    Depart Morocco May 21
    Summer Session I Sep 1 Apr 15
    Depart US for Morocco May 21
    Arrive in Fez May 22
    First Day of Classes May 27
    Final Exams, Program Ends Jul 7
    Depart Morocco Jul 8
    Summer 9-week Intensive Sep 1 Apr 15
    Depart US for Morocco May 21
    Arrive in Fez May 22
    First Day of Classes May 27
    Final Exams, Program Ends Jul 28
    Depart Morocco Jul 29
    Summer Session II Sep 1 May 1
    Depart US for Morocco Jun 11
    Arrive in Fez Jun 12
    First Day of Classes Jun 17
    Final Exams, Program Ends Jul 28
    Depart Morocco Jul 29

    *Program dates are subject to change. Contact the LAC for verification of dates before purchasing your airfare.
    **If the deadline falls on a weekend, submit your materials on the following business day.

    Orientation Dates & Locations

    Orientation will be conducted in 2 parts: an online orientation, which is mandatory for all students, and an in-person, program-specific session. You will receive more information about the online orientation via email. Failure to complete the online orientation will impact your ability to go abroad.

    See below for tentative dates and times for your in-person session. You will be notified of the official date and time via email. Participants will receive applicable orientation materials via email approximately 1 week prior to the in-person session.

    Term Abroad Date/Time Location
    Spring 2020 Friday, December 6, 2:00-4:00pm Heller Hall 214
  7. Fees for Arabic Language & Culture in Morocco

    University of Minnesota participants pay the program fee instead of on-campus tuition and fees for the term they are abroad.

    Fall 2019

    Academic Year 2019/20

    Spring 2020

    Fees or tuition from home institutions may be added to or differ from the University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center fees listed on this page.

    Billing & Payments

    Visit Billing for information about the billing process for application fees, deposits, and program fees.

    Financial Aid & Scholarships

    Visit Financial Information for information on using financial aid and scholarships for study abroad.

    Bridging Loan

    Bridging Loan, a no-interest/no-fees loan that funds the upfront deposit and flights costs, is available for this program for eligible students.

    Cancellation Policy

    Before you apply to or confirm your participation on this program, review the Learning Abroad Center's Cancellation Policy to inform yourself of the timeline and financial obligations for canceling.
  8. Prepare

    Complete pre-application advising.

    Be aware: All programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.

    To complete the online application for this program, you will need to select or provide the following information on the online application:

    Center Name TC Learning Abroad Ctr
    Education Abroad Term See Program Dates for term options
    Program Name Arabic Language & Culture in Morocco
    Track Name Arabic Language & Culture in Morocco
    Country Morocco

    Submit

    University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Use your University of Minnesota internet ID and password to log into the Education Abroad application system. Your student account will be charged a $50 application fee.

    Non-University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Once you submit your application, Learning Abroad Center staff will create a University of Minnesota student internet account for you. You will use this account to access the Education Abroad Application System, and other University of Minnesota services. You will be charged a $50 application fee for this program.

    Our staff will contact you within 2–3 business days with your internet account information, and additional application instructions.

    Complete

    After you submit your application, you will receive an email notification confirming that your application was received. Submitted applications are assigned an application checklist, which will include the following items:

    • Application Essay
    • Academic Recommendation (If have previous Arabic language courses—letter preferably comes from Arabic instructor, but not required. Semester applicants only, not required for summer program)
    • Transcript (Non-UofM students only)
    • Home Institution Nomination (Required by specific institutions only)

    Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist assigned to you.

    If you do not meet the GPA requirement for this program you will be required to submit two additional application items—the Low GPA Essay and Special Circumstances Recommendation. Both items will be added to your checklist after you start your application, and you will be notified when they have been added.

    Application Review Process

    After your application checklist is complete, your application is reviewed by our program team. You will be notified of an acceptance decision by email. If accepted, you will be assigned a confirmation checklist, which you will complete to confirm your participation in the program. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application system and submit a Cancel Request.

  9. Program Contact

    For further information or questions about this program, send an email to

    Ryan McCarthy or call at 612.626.9373.

  10. Contact Program Alum

    Below is a list of additional students who participated in past program sessions. They are ready and willing to answer your questions about this program. Feel free to contact them during your decision-making process or anytime during your pre-departure preparation to get a student perspective.

    Charlie Bartlett, bartl243@umn.edu, Fall 2016

    Tess Kolker, kolker@wisc.edu, AY 2016/17

Program Handbook Program Orientation

University of Minnesota students participating in a research project on this program may be eligible for the International Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (I-UROP) Scholarship