Mike Turner: Teaching Darija to Americans: Orienting Pedagogical Approaches for Different Audiences

This podcast, featuring Dr. Mike Turner of the University of North Carolina Wilmington and TALIM resident director John Davison, was recorded on January 4, 2019.

Traditional approaches to teaching Arabic in American Universities have focused on bringing students to proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic, a formal register of the language that is used throughout the
Arabic-speaking world. In recent years, however, there has been a move toward building proficiency in spoken Arabic dialects as well. While most American students who study an Arabic dialect study either
Egyptian or Levantine, the rise of Morocco as a primary site for study abroad and international experiences means that there is also a growing demand for instruction in Darija, the local Arabic dialect of Morocco.
In this podcast, Mike Turner discusses his experience teaching Darija to various student groups in both Morocco and the United States. He highlights how different student profiles correspond with different pedagogical goals, which in turn inform what sort of curriculum a course should follow and materials it should draw on. As Morocco is likely to remain an important site for overseas Arabic study, the need for refined materials and methods for teaching Darija will only grow in the future.
Mike Turner is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he teaches courses in Arabic and International Studies. He holds a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of Texas at Austin. His research in Arabic linguistics has been supported by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers and a Fulbright Student Grant.
The featured photograph shows a bilingual Darija/French advertisement from a café in Rabat. The top
text reads “FIK’JOU3?” – meaning “are you hungry?” – and is a typical example of Darija written in Latin script.

Further Reading

Al-Batal, Mahmoud. 1992. “Diglossia Proficiency: The Need for an Alternative Approach to Teaching.” In
The Arabic Language in America, edited by Aleya Rouchdy, 284–304. Wayne State University
———. 2017. Arabic as One Language: Integrating Dialect in the Arabic Language Curriculum.
Georgetown University Press.
Brustad, Kristen, Mahmoud Al-Batal, and Abbas Al-Tonsi. 2011. Al-Kitaab Fii Ta’allum Al-’Arabiyya – A
Textbook for Beginning Arabic: Part 1, 3rd Edition. Third Edition. Georgetown University Press.
Chekayri, Abdellah. 2011. An Introduction to Moroccan Arabic and Culture. Pap/DVD Bl. Washington, DC:
Georgetown University Press.
Peace Corps Morocco. 2011. Moroccan Arabic Textbook. Peace Corps Morocco.
Turner, Mike. 2019. “Moroccan Arabic.” In The Semitic Languages, edited by John Huehnergard and
Na’ama Pat-El. Oxfordshire: Routledge.
———. 2013. “An Introduction to Moroccan Arabic and Culture (Review).” Language Learning &
Technology 17 (1): 50–55.
———. 2018. “An Integrated Moroccan and Modern Standard Arabic Curriculum.” In Arabic as One
Language: Integrating the Dialect in the Arabic Curriculum, edited by Mahmoud Al-Batal.
Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

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