Morocco Languages: Everything You Need To Know

If you’re planning a trip to Morocco, then one of the important things to do is to make sure you know the Moroccan languages.

While many Moroccans speak English, Spanish, or French, impressing the locals with a few words in their native tongue would really enhance your experience.

Not only does it show respect and make you win hearts but it can be all that you need to discover the real culture, traditions, stunning places, and enjoy delicious food.

In this post, I will be talking about the official languages of Morocco, and the different foreign tongues spoken in Morocco, revealing some tips, and last but not least mentioning some of the amazing resources to start learning the basics.

Let’s Go (:

Morocco Languages

Official Morocco Languages

If you never get beyond the initial perception of Morocco as “that place where Casablanca was filmed, ” you’re missing out on many interesting things. For starters, a variety of languages are spoken in Morocco, not just Arabic.

Some people will say that Morocco has only one official or national language, Modern Standard Arabic. Still, others will tell you Berber is also an official Moroccan language.

In formal situations, you will find people using Modern Standard Arabic and any written documents. Most schools are taught in this dialect of Arabic as well.

You might have heard there is also a language that’s pretty dominant which is Tamazight (Berber) but let me tell you that the truth is that Morocco’s original inhabitants spoke different Berber languages, so you can imagine how important it is to Moroccan culture.

Most people in Morocco are at least bilingual, which means they speak Modern Standard Arabic and usually either a Berber language or Moroccan Arabic.

1. Darija, Or Moroccan Arabic

The Moroccan standard Arabic is only used in government or in official businesses. But, if you head down the street you’ll hear people talk in a totally different way, that’s called Moroccan Arabic or the so-called “Darija”.

It is a dialect of Arabic unique to Morocco that is harder even for the Arabic people to understand because it’s a mix of Tamazight (the Berber spoken in Morocco) as well as Spanish and French.

Moroccan Arabic is the dialect you will hear most days, though it can also be heard on Moroccan TV stations, in movies, and even in some advertisements.

That doesn’t make it as official as Modern Standard Arabic, but it remains an important and integral part of Moroccan culture and everyday life.

However, you won’t find anyone writing in Darija, as it is a spoken Arabic dialect without a writing system. Some have gotten around that to writing poetry and other literature in Darija, but literature is generally reserved for Modern Standard Arabic.

Arabic is primarily heard in schools, administrative offices, and mosques in Morocco. It is sometimes used in traditional formal addresses, religious debates, and literary contexts.

On the other hand, Moroccan Arabic is not typically written and is used in informal settings such as homes and on the streets. It is also commonly heard in metropolitan regions like Casablanca, Agadir, Rabat, and Marrakech.

Watch the following video mentioning some basic conversation starters from English to Darija to get an idea how the Moroccan Arabic sounds like.

2. Tamazight Or Berber Language

I am sure you heard “Berber” but what most people don’t know is that it’s actually called “Tamazight”. Amazigh means “free people”. The “Berber” word was first used by Romans to identify a non-Latin population and then also used by the French.

The key takeaway here is that most if not all Amazigh people don’t like to be called “Berbers” instead they refer to themselves as “Amazigh” or “Imazighen”.

So, as a form of respect to them, I am going to be using the word “Amazigh” instead of “Berber” throughout the rest of the article.

Tamazight, is one of the official languages of Morocco, alongside Arabic. This group of languages and dialects is native to North Africa, with the majority of speakers residing in Algeria and Morocco.

However, pockets of Amazigh speakers can also be found in other North African countries. It is fascinating to note that Tamazight dialects were spoken in Morocco long before Arabic was introduced, and their influence still resonates in the Moroccan Arabic that is commonly heard in homes and on the streets.

While Tamazight can be heard among families and on the streets of Morocco, its use is largely limited to Amazigh-speaking communities and is rarely documented in writing.

The surprise is that most Amazigh speakers are bilingual, also speaking Moroccan Arabic. The monolinguals tend to be children or older adults living in the Rif and Atlas Mountains or the desert.

The branches and the distribution of the Tamazight language in Morocco stand out as particularly uniform and continuous compared to other regions of North Africa.

For instance, In the southwestern part of Morocco, the speakers of “Tachlhit” or “Shilha” occupy a zone that extends from coastal areas as far south as Ifni and as far north as the area near Agadir, and as far east as the Draa.

Take a look at the following video mentioning some basic conversation starters from English to Tamazight to get an idea how what the Tamazight or Berber language looks like.

What Are The Foreign Languages Spoken In Morocco?

Anyone visiting or planning a trip to Morocco is wondering. what language do they speak in Morocco? and I am here to answer this question.

The majority of Moroccans speak multiple languages including French, English, and Spanish. The reason behind that is the different people who colonized Morocco over the years.

Here are some of the foreign languages spoken by Moroccans:

1. French

With around 4 million speakers, French is one of the official languages of Morocco. However, Moroccan French differs significantly from standard French due to the influence of Arabic and Tamazight.

The relationship between Morocco and France is long-standing, dating back to when Morocco was a French colony. During this period, French was made mandatory in government and education, which contributed to the language’s widespread use among the Moroccan population.

Even after Morocco gained independence, French continued to be used in official capacities, although Arabic is now the official language.

Today, French remains important in business and government settings and serves as a lingua franca among these sectors. However, among the youth, English and Spanish tend to be more popular due to their perceived ease of learning.

Despite its difficulty, French is still valued for its contribution to Morocco’s linguistic diversity.

Many Moroccans view proficiency in a European language as essential for maintaining global connections and keeping up with technology and science.

2. Spanish

Spanish is a minority language spoken in Morocco, which holds significance in the domains of business and tourism.

There are three primary reasons for the prevalence of Spanish in Morocco:

it can be attributed to Spain’s historical presence in the country. As a colonial power, Spain introduced and propagated the Spanish language in Morocco for several centuries.

Despite Morocco gaining independence from Spain, the language continued to be spoken by many Moroccans to the day.

Moreover, the proximity of Morocco to Spain has contributed to the spread of the Spanish language, especially in the Moroccan cities that are on the north coast like Tetouan, Tangier, Rabat, Casablanca, and so on.

Frequent travel by Moroccans to Spain for business or tourism has exposed them to the language.

Last but not least, a considerable community of Moroccans is living in Spain, where Spanish is their primary language. Many of them visit Morocco regularly, thus further strengthening the presence of the Spanish language in the country.

3. English

When it comes to Morocco, the English language has become popular among Morocco people and is now the third language with a strong following.

Just like anywhere else in the world, you’re likely to find locals speaking English almost everywhere you go, that’s why it’s really beneficial for travelers to learn the English language because it will simply make their trip easier at least from my point of view.

Historically speaking, during the colonial period, the British Empire introduced English to Morocco, and since then, it has been widely used in many areas like education, tourism, and international relations.

From schools and universities to workplaces, English has become an essential part of daily life for many Moroccans who communicate with people from other countries.

English wasn’t a widely taught subject in Moroccan schools in the past, but things have significantly changed over the past years.

There are now many English-language schools in major cities like Rabat city which is the capital and Casablanca, and more and more students are enrolling in them. Resulting in a significant increase in the number of Moroccans who speak English.

If you ask me what are the other reason that helped spread English not just in Morocco but in other parts of the world, I would say the growing popularity of English when it comes to technology, science, and online business as well as being relatively easy to learn for most people.

Things To Know Before Traveling To Morocco

Morocco National Languages

If you’re planning your next trip to Morocco to discover its rich culture, traditions, hospitable friendly people, and beautiful Moroccan cities. Here are a few things to do before traveling to Morocco:

1. First, Do Your Research

Every nation has a unique culture. Therefore, it’s crucial that you do enough research beforehand to get an idea of the people of Morocco, the dress code in Morocco, and what things to avoid when traveling the country.

Morocco lists Arabic and Tamazight as their official language. English and Spanish are the most spoken languages in the country alongside French.

Darija is another language – which is a dialect of Arabic – spoken by most Moroccan people.

2. Improve Your Language Skills

Before traveling to any foreign country, knowing some basic words and phrases in their local language is ideal. The same goes for Morocco.

And as you know, this country speaks different languages – Arabic, Tamazight, English, French, and some Spanish. You will be fine enough using the English language, but you will probably need a translator, especially in the rural areas of Morocco.

Some basic common words you can learn when visiting Morocco include “hello”, “thank you”, and “goodbye”, therefore you should get acquainted with these words in the native language.

Some other phrases that are also worth knowing in the Morocco language include phrases like “do you speak English?”, “where is the toilet” “what’s your name?” and so on.

Feel free to think of other important phrases you might use and learn to say them in the said language that would really make a huge difference in how people communicate with you.

3. Use Translation Apps

Luckily for you, technology has made quite many things less difficult, and you can also benefit from it when dealing with different languages while traveling.

Translation apps can save you lots of stress in communicating, boost your communication skills in Morocco, and prepare you for a conversation with locals.

To do this, I’ll advise you to compile a few words and phrases needed in your usual conversation, translate them using a translation app, practice, and keep them saved on your device during your trip.

This simple practice will not only save you time but also reduce stress and help you towards effective communication.

4. Take Notes

When you meet with the locals, and they are providing you with useful information you can translate later on to understand it fully, it’s necessary to take note of it.

Keep a small notebook where you can write all the important information you have received during the day.

This will help you remember many important things that may be useful for your future travel and sometimes things that are not even available if you search on the net.

5. Turn to TV Shows, Music, and Magazines For Help

We all have a shared love for music, movies, TV shows, and books. Therefore, why not make use of these resources while preparing for your trip to Morocco? They can help you improve your vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure.

Listening to music can assist in mastering pronunciation, while TV shows and magazines can aid in retaining words and creating more elaborate sentences.

It is crucial to note that while learning or communicating in the Moroccan language, try not to take it too personally. Enjoy the process and have fun as you learn.

It can be challenging to get lost in a conversation, but it is not a bad thing or something to feel embarrassed about. On the contrary, introducing yourself to new phrases and words can significantly enhance your vocabulary.

Practice understanding and pronouncing new words or phrases while communicating. Your pronunciation may sound strange and imperfect initially, but with practice, patience, and a smile, you can meet locals who are eager and ready to teach you because they see the effort you put in.

To have a pleasurable trip to Morocco and avoid any trouble, I recommend that you read my previous article about things not to do for tourists Traveling to Morocco. It contains some critical rules that you should always keep in mind.

5 Best Moroccan Arabic Books For Beginners

For those who prefer books, with or without audio. Below is a list of Moroccan Arabic books to help you grasp this beautiful language fast and effectively:

1. Lonely Planet Moroccan Arabic Phrasebook & Dictionary

This is considered by far the best phrasebook that you can use to level up your skills in Moroccan Arabic or at least learn some basic things to help you communicate with the locals and overcome the language barrier. It also includes Tamazight and standard Arabic.

2. Moroccan Arabic: Lonely Planet Phrasebook

This book contains a two-way dictionary, a sentence builder, quick tips for pronunciation and grammar, and useful expressions for finding accommodation and talking about health and emergencies.

3. Conversational Arabic Quick and Easy: Moroccan Dialect

This 44-page instructional language guide includes a lot of handy conversational tips for Darija learners. So if you are one of those who are interested and ever wanted to learn Moroccan Arabic then this is a great fit for you.

4. The Routledge Introductory Course in Moroccan Arabic

If you want a step-by-step guide that walks you through the essentials of Moroccan Arabic. This introductory course covers pretty much all the basic statements that are used in daily conversations. So if you would like a good course to polish your skills in Moroccan Arabic then give this a Go.

5. A Basic Course in Moroccan Arabic with MP3 Files

This textbook is written for beginners unfamiliar with the Arabic language, alphabet, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.

The Bottom Line

To summarize, language is one of the unique things that makes a country stand out. Morocco is an African country where people speak the most common worldwide languages but you can’t always expect all the locals to speak a certain language, especially the older ones.

Therefore, I always see many travelers learning at least the basic stuff like greetings of any country they plan to go to or even learning them when interacting with a local who speaks both languages. it’s such a unique way to explore the culture.

Getting to know a few statements will help you interact with locals and thus, live an amazing travel experience.

That’s it for this blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading it. If Yes, don’t forget to share it with anyone you think would benefit from it. Otherwise, stay awesome (:

Thanks for reading.



Do they speak french in Morocco?

Yes, there are French speakers in Morocco although Moroccan Arabic, Tamazight, and other foreign languages like English and Spanish are the most popular.

Do they speak Spanish in Morocco?

Spanish is spoken by a wide range of people in Morocco, especially the ones working in tourism and other business.

Do they speak English in Morocco?

Yes, English is a popular language spoken by Moroccans but don’t expect everyone to speak it because it’s not among the official languages.

What are the languages spoken in Morocco?

There are several languages that are spoken in Morocco but the most well-known are English, French, and Spanish along with Moroccan Darija and Tamazight.

Is Portuguese spoken in Morocco?

Yes, the Portuguese language is also spoken in some parts of Morocco because Portugal and Morocco are two neighboring countries and friends with a long-shared history.

Is Arabic spoken in Morocco?

Yes, Arabic, Tamazight, and French are the official languages of Morocco and they are widely spoken by Moroccan people.

Is german spoken in Morocco?

Yes, you might find German speakers in some parts of Morocco. However, it’s not as famous as other foreign languages.

Is Italian spoken in Morocco?

Not really, but there are at least some Italian speakers or people who understand the language in Morocco. Although, it’s not as famous as English or Spanish.

What kind of Arabic is spoken in Morocco?

The Arabic spoken in Morocco is known as Moroccan Arabic or “Darija”. It is the dialect of Arabic unique to Morocco.

Is Morocco a bilingual country?

Yes, Morocco is a bilingual country, because most of the people speak Moroccan Arabic or Tamazight along with at least one of the foreign languages like English, French or Spanish.

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The Editorial Team

Optimos Travel is a travel blog to help you travel the world, and explore different lifestyles, traditions, foods, and everything in between.