News: Arabic Studies Spring 2021

Live from Morocco!

“Live From Morocco”!  An Integrative Approach to Teaching Culture and Language

With the cancellation of many activities imposed by the Covid crisis, professor Driss Cherkaoui, found a way of teaching Moroccan dialect that is interactive and fun.

  1. What is “Live from Morocco” and how did you imagine it would fit into your course?

Teaching Moroccan dialect is also about teaching culture.  I did not want to use Youtube videos and I wanted an interactive class.  I created a program that blends in culture online where the session will be live allowing the students to witness a cultural event.  It was essentially a series of workshops with a  variety of activities such as cooking, Arabic calligraphy, henna design, and a trip to the market.  The Moroccan chef sends the students the recipe with the ingredients and they work together step by step.

  1. What did “Live from Morocco” offer your students?

It offered them experience and really opened another horizon on culture and the people.  Students saw for themselves first hand the interactive angle of Moroccan culture such as family relationships.

  1. What aspects did students enjoy the most?

For some reason, they enjoyed cooking and calligraphy.

  1. What are the challenges for hosting a program like “Live From Morocco”?

Primarily it is the funding and the training.  You need to prepare the hosting end to the experience of meeting American students, give them orientation sessions and to teach them the interactive participation  is required.  Technology can also be challenging since it takes time to set up.  It is essentially like teaching two different courses.

  1. Can this model be applied to other classes?

Yes, but one has to be well prepared for it to succeed.  It requires coordination and flexibility.  A class on the Qur’an would benefit greatly from this model where students can attend live Qur’anic chanting in mosques, classes where the Qur’an is taught and calligraphy.  This interactive model is invaluable in allowing students to see first hand a central aspect of Arab culture.