How many Americans know that Morocco is in Africa?
Probably not very many. I’m guessing 4%. And half of those know Morocco’s location only because they’ve seen the world’s best movie (Casablanca, of course) and have paid attention to the geography. Anyway, I’ve never been to Morocco — nor anywhere else in Africa other than Egypt, which is another country that most Americans don’t know is in Africa.
So I haven’t been to Morocco, but second best to going there is that I’ve been reading a 16-year-old Moroccan girl’s blog, which I highly recommend. It’s about all kinds of topics, including languages.
Now it’s easy to get a slice of an international perspective these days. The internet is world-wide, after all; we read and listen to people from other countries, we teach students who come from all around the world. But those are all just bits and pieces. Some people, including a number of my current and former students, have had the opportunity to live abroad in an enormous range of countries, from Argentina to Uganda to Nepal; that experience can replace the scattershot mile-wide-inch-deep approach with one that’s an inch wide and a mile deep, a salutary contrast. For the rest of us, we have to do it vicariously. So when Aya invited me to read her blog, I jumped at the opportunity, particularly because of one particular post, in which she discusses which languages she believes everyone should learn.
Because her blog is written in English, not Arabic, Aya doesn’t include English among her five recommended languages. But she does, in turn, include Arabic. You should read her entire (short) post to appreciate her careful reasoning, but I’ll tell you right here that the other four languages are French, Mandarin, Spanish, and Korean. If you are one of the few who know the geography (and a bit of the history) of Morocco, you’re not the least bit surprised by Arabic, French, and Spanish — but how did Mandarin and Korean make their way into this select list? You’ll have to read her post to find out.
By the way, you might almost be fooled into thinking that the author of her blog is a native English-speaking adult. But you’ll appreciate the writing more if you keep the context in mind.