Salam Aleikum from a freezing Marrakech.
This was supposed to be an educational blog about the vicissitudes of teaching English in the Spanish State system, but as they say, I´ll save that till later when I have more evidence-based content, however what I have gleaned so far:

• Our (CEIP) students are natively bi-lingual as Catalan & Castilian Spanish are taught as soon as they enter the state System (as early as three yo?)
• Most teachers are also bi-lingual at this a pre-requisite to becoming a qualified teacher in Mallorca.
• We have a shortage of native speakers, so by & large the students are taught by Spanish speaking teachers.
• This inevitably creates the Spanglish that we often hear from Spanish speakers.
• As far as I know, the problem is not mirrored in Catalan; students seem to speak with a recognizable Catalan (Mallorquin) pronunciation.
• The L1 knowledge of the students has a significant impact on their abilities in learning English, particularly speaking. For example, those children who speak English at home have a huge advantage, whilst those who struggle with Spanish i.e. general literacy problems, will often struggle with English.
• I teach under two systems. A more individual Montessori based self-actualisation play based methodology, and a more traditional chalk & talk system. Both systems have their merits & challenges & I will expand on this is a future meandering.

Now for Marrakech.

Though being of Afro-Caribbean descent, it must be with some shame that I must admit this is my first trip to the motherland, but hopefully not my last.

I only stayed 10 days and met no real Moroccans as such but I did access the tourist business & had enough adventures to give a brief sketch of wha´gwan.
Believe it or not, Marrakech is a mere three-plus hours from Gatwick, but in cultural terms, it is a million miles. For a start you won´t be surprised by my use of the dreaded third world moniker, but maybe the 2.5 world moniker would be more appropriate. We stayed at an all-inclusive French-based walled compound, and apart from a few glitches, our stay was relatively problem free. Good food, some Arabic guests but a staunchly French clientele. Each day courtesy of the shuttle bus, we could venture into Medina the walled medieval city of Marrakech, where it quickly became apparent that we had entered a time tunnel, with its curious mix of the ancient & modern cultures.

As soon as we got off the bus, we were swarmed by a bunch of money hungry guides & lackeys whose sole purpose seemed to be to fleece the unsuspecting tourists of as much money as possible. We walked through a beautiful garden of fountains, before crossing to the Mosque, outside which, were an assortment of hawkers, sellers & beggars. Some were ok but as we pressed onto the main square, there was a persistent rump of stalkers who aggressively approached to sell you a carpet, t-shirt, or iPhone you never knew you wanted. As we got off the bus we were targeted by one such guide, who on being told “we don´t pay any money¨ flashed his dodgy badge, replying that he was government sponsored and didn´t need payment. He led us down a maze of ice cold tunnels eventually ending up in the official government wholesale shop, followed by the government Argan oil shop, which turned out to be ludicrously expensive.

Caveat Emptor

Morocco has a monarchy but the government seal of approval should come with a huge caveat emptor. Being completely naive were duly relieved of €400 after a whirlwind sales pitch that any medicine man would have been proud. The products were an assortment of Argan oils, & herbs & spices but at what we were too late find out were hugely inflated prices. We were later informed our guide got a percentage of the takings for scalping us.
As we walked away a Moroccan approached me & said he was a worker from our hotel inviting me to come into his shop. I duly went thinking it would be a five-minute thanks but no thanks job, but half an hour later I was still ensnared in his web. I did actually need some sandals as Palma gets too hot for trainers, but reckoned on paying a max of €25 for each pair. His opening gambit was €100 which I duly informed him was totally ridiculous. Eventually we came down to €60 for two which was way above the €25 I would have paid in Palma. Totally predictably his card machine wouldn´t accept my card & he sent me with a hustler to the cash point. I paid the hustler his €60 whereupon he wanted his cut, so I ended up paying a ludicrous €65.To be honest I would have gladly paid more just to have got rid of him. I ended up waiting in the square for my mother & was approached by all kinds of humanity including children, trying to sell me watches, sweets or asking money for me to take their photo? After two hours I hastily beat a retreat to the sanity of a terrace bar paying €6 for their local brew Casablanca, which was actually fairly decent. At the appointed hour I headed back to the shuttle put down, to find … no shuttle or tourists waiting. As the sun settled & the five o’clock pollution plume rose above the Stygian lights (Marrakech is plagued by thousands of mosquito like docker scooters) I walked the five so kilometers back to the hotel, and managed to avoid being speared by a scooter, bike van or car, an achievement in itself, as the last hundred meters had been sequestered by the Formule un Electrique.
Marrakech one of the most bonkers places on the planet (and I´ve been to Manaus); Caveat Emptor.

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