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Monday, 23 June 2014 12:00 AM

Language Barriers in Morocco for Tourists

Morocco is a country with a huge depth of history and influences from overseas, as can be seen by the languages in use in Morocco today – the Arab invasions introduced Arabic to the native Berber region and the two languages still continue in use to this day, this was supplemented by Spanish and French occupations/ protectorates in various regions and the most recent invasion of English speakers.

Language For Your Holiday

What language you need for where is impossible to state definitively.

Obviously if you speak Arabic or, in places, Berber you will have no problems but I’ll assume that you don’t otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article. However, picking up a few of the most basic phrases is a good idea to be polite (hello (”salam”) and thank you (“shokran”) - see more).

Holiday Accommodation

We note for all the accommodation in our portfolio what languages are spoken. Often an English speaker (albeit basic) will be present or, if not, a French speaker – I hope your French is better than my school boy French. Alternatively in the northern regions Spanish may be spoken in place or as well as French. But in many places away from the main tourist destinations foreign language skills may be very basic.

Holiday Guides

If you have a guide they will have relatively good English and will have been tested in that as part of their guiding Exams if that was their chosen guiding language. If you have a driver for your car their foreign language will be a little more basic but should be passable – although long in-depth conversations about the meaning on Islam may be tricky.


Elsewhere you are on your own to muddle by, whether it be in the souk (in the main tourist souks of Marrakech English is widely spoken), café (luckily ordering a mint tea or a coffee is as simple as politely indicating that you want what the person next door is having) or restaurant (menus will often have a translation except for in out of the way places)

Plan Ahead For Your Holiday

If there is something important to note, most obviously dietary issues, please do let us know in advance and we can communicate that to where you are staying to avoid any potential issues with language problems.

All in all, with a smile on your face and a few polite hand gestures (without repeating the same question in English time and time again in a raised voice) language should be no issue.