The Medium of Instruction in Morocco between the Official Discourse and the Classroom Practices

Submitted by: Souhaila Khamlichi
Abstract: Morocco is a multilingual society where different languages are in use. In addition to the two mother tongues, namely Amazigh and Darija, Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the official language of the country and the language of instruction according to the Moroccan constitution. French, the colonial language still holds a very prestigious and dominant position and stands as the language of instruction of science in higher education. Recently, Morocco has shifted to the use of French as the language of instruction of science starting from primary school.
Last September, a heated debate was launched in Morocco after the introduction of few Darija words in some textbooks. The public was very critical of the fact and considered Darija to be a corrupt form of Arabic, which is not fit for education.

The aim of this study is to investigate the language of instruction and the classroom practices in order to reveal to what extent the Moroccan Constitution is respected. The study is based on exhaustive fieldwork research relying on class observation, interviews and surveys. The main hypothesis underlying the study stipulates that the public higher education’s linguistic practices do not reflect the Moroccan educational language policy. The study addresses and tries to answer three main research questions, namely:
1. What is the language of instruction at the university level?
2. Why is this language used?
3. What are the teachers and students’ attitudes towards the use of Darija in class?

The answers to these questions will reveal the classroom practices.

Keywords: L1; Language policy; Multilingualism; Higher educational system; Language of instruction.