News flash ~ Casablanca, Morocco

American Academy Casablanca.

I would like to thank the American Academy Casablanca for their incredible assistance with the documentary project. Not only did the school allow us to spend three full days filming on location with them, but they also provided us with a wonderful selection of enthusiastic ESL students with some fascinating ideas about learning English.

Casablanca, Morocco.

Although Morocco is only a short distance away from the southern coast of Spain, the change in culture and climate is truly breathtaking. Upon arriving in the busy city of Casablanca, we were ripped off tremendously by our taxi driver and taken straight to the Medina (a vast labyrinth of market stalls, booths, flats and washing lines). We were  immediately swarmed by reckless hands and fake Rolex watches, beaming faces and bootleg DVDs, a real maze of Moroccan craftsmanship. We started to walk down one of the twirling isles and we were pounced upon by a tall burly fellow with glasses ¨hello my English friends¨ he said with a berserk sense of confidence, ¨let me give you a private tour…¨

This was our introduction to Morocco and the shape of things to come. Desperately friendly people with a lot to share, but at a somewhat questionable price. It was not until we reached the haven of the American Academy that we felt we could let our guard down somewhat and give the project our full attention.

Posing with some AAC students.


An interview with Michelle from the Congo.


The reason for my choosing Morocco as a chief destination for the ESL documentary project is that it is extremely unique. Situated in the north of Africa and with an increasing tourist trade, the Moroccan people seem to be looking at increasing their bilingual standard into a trilingual language powerhouse. The students that we visited at AAC spoke fluent Arabic and French, but also need to learn English to a fantastic degree in order to be able to graduate. This is a massive task and would seem extremely daunting to most people, but the students and staff we met at AAC were doing extremely well indeed.

But how are they doing it!? Why is it important for an Arabic/French speaking nation to learn English!? Do they have a different technique to the rest of the world!?

The folks we interviewed at AAC were able to answer all of these questions and more. I just cant wait to get this section of the project online so that everybody can see the results for themselves. Keep checking the blog for more information, videos and pictures.

A protest march in Rabat.


Behind the camera in Casablanca.



This project has been extremely difficult to plan. There is no question about it. I am surprised myself that the project has gone off without a hitch so far and I am putting that down to the fabulous organisations that we have had to work with so far; Michael House and the International Club in Cambridge, LSI in New York, IML in Granada and American Academy Casablanca in Morocco.

I am sad to report however that our plans to visit Minsk in Belarus have been put to a standstill. Due to some difficulties in obtaining VISAs, we are having to shift Location 05 to a different country. This is a real shame due to the fantastic responses that we have had from students in Belarus so far – I was desperately looking forward to meeting our contacts in Minsk but sadly we are going to have to postpone our trip until a later date.

I am however pleased to report that we were easily able to change destination with the help and support of Englishclub. On October 26th, Joel and I will be heading to our new project destination number five…

….Bucharest, ROMANIA.

Wish us luck!

Best Regards to everybody and another massive THANK YOU for all your contributions.


11 Responses to “News flash ~ Casablanca, Morocco”

  1. hanane says:

    Hello Daniel and Joel,
    I wish you enjoyed your stay here in Morocco. I can imagine the way you were welcomed in the médina, it is a very popular place where you can find everything you need. I also can understand why you were starteled at the fact of learning English besides French. As a Moroccan, at this I can give you a simple answer: an ignorant here in Morocco is not the person who does not know to read or write but the person who doesn’t speak more than one foreign language. Besides, French has become a common language that every one uses in his daily life with no difficulties.That’s the reason why we give too much importance to learning English.
    The Best of Luck

  2. jalal nali says:

    I agree with you Hanane,
    My name is jalal from Tangiers from the north (14 km) from Spain i think you forget to mension that there are 6 million moroccan in the north whom speaks spanish as native spaniard do, and I am sad to see that you talked just about the folklorik side of casablanca not the modern and positive side casablanca is the therd biggest city in Africa and the most industrial and the biggest in north the Maghreb region.
    any way you are welkom to Morocco like your second country any time you want.
    Kind Regards

  3. Daniel Emmerson says:

    Greetings, and thank you for your comments! Of course our experience in Casablanca was fantastic and I think the positive side of the city will be reflected in the documentary – like I said, I can’t wait for the film to be posted.

    Regarding the Spanish speaking population in Tangiers, it would have been wonderful to visit the north of Morocco but we are running on a tight programme and do not have time to meet with everybody – as incredible as that would be. I do intend to visit northern Morocco in 2009 and I will no doubt write an article about my travels.

    Thanks again for your comments – we had a brilliant time in Morocco and look forward to visiting Romania on Sunday.

    Best Wishes,


  4. hanane says:

    Hi Jalal,
    I am sorry not to mention that since I also live In Tangier city.

  5. hanane says:

    Hi Daniel,
    Let us know when you are visiting Tangier in 2009, just to plan a meeting with you if possible.
    By the way, the subject of my research to obtain my B A degree belongs to Travel Litterature ant it was under the title of The Representation of Morocco in Some Western Travel Texts.
    The best of luck Daniel and Joel

  6. Abdel Mellouk says:

    Hi ,
    I am abdel. I have been living in Morocco for 35 years. I can give a hand in your film and a lot of information about the country. to let you know, I have been teaching French as second language for 13years. so feel free to contact me.
    I wish you the best.

  7. Mohammed says:

    Hello Daniel and Joe,
    First, I wish you very good luck with your project.
    Then I would like to present my humble opinion concerning the reasons why more and more Moroccans are keen on learning English .The first reason is the fact that everyone is now aware that it’s the language of science, technology and therefore power . Second provident people feel now that this language is no longer a choice but a must for any progress at the local or international level in the short term or long one.

  8. khalid says:

    I’ ve just started my career as an English teacher.I liked what you are doing:I mean your project.I am really glad that you are filming here in my country Morocco.You are welcome.Anyway, I will be gratefull if you can send me a message in which you tell me where I can watch those videos..all of them.
    best wishes!

  9. loubna says:

    When I encountered Morocco in your site I was eager to know what is it about.As a matter of fact;I found the idea of the project great.However; I have some reservations about your destination.I mean: the American academy doesn’t really present how students in Morocco are learning English as an SL.In fact this is really done but in an American way:an American syllabus,sometimes even teachers are native speakers and not all the Moroccans benifit from the same way of learning that language.I invite you to have a look on how the majority of students in Morocco are learning English.”public schools”.By paying attention to this our learners and teachers will benifit and the project will be worked out on real’ll see how esl benifits from the local culture to be learnt……………..

  10. santi says:


    i am santi, i live in Laos. but , now i studying in Korea for a year cuz of ur program help me a lot…
    you know your English program is very meanful and useful for me. In my country there are many many English school and many student are trying to learn English. So, if you have a chance plz come to make a video english here. the student will have many problem wih english and have many solution for that too…very interesting…no

  11. John Bolt says:

    I am a TEFL teacher and have a house in Essaouira on the Atlantic coast of Morocco and I agree with Loubna that the American Academy is the last place you should use as a project model.