Just a few things about Darija: it’s a slang of Arabic that’s spoken only in Morocco. Other Arabic speakers can barely understand it, if at all. Algerians can, but the further east you head in Arabia, fewer and fewer words will be understood. It’s a very informal version of FusHa (tradition written Arabic), and there’s even wide variation in vocabulary and pronunciation within Morocco.
Darija has no written form. All street signs are in French and FusHa, but many Moroccans are illiterate. We’ve been learning it by using a standardized western approximation of Arabic sounds. Many Arabic letters have English equivalents, like b, k , l, and s (among many others). There are some English letters for which there is no equivalent sound in Arabic, like j, p, and v. The tricky part is to understand the Arabic sounds for which there are no English equivalents. I won’t go into too much detail, as they are challenging to pronounce, let alone transcribe. Just think of anytime you’ve heard someone speaking in Arabic and all those crazy sounds you thought were impossible to make with your mouth. Those are the sounds we’re learning. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I think a few sounds in Hebrew are similar to Arabic so y’all should go crash your nearest Bar Mitzvah.
I’m pronouncing the language well and my comprehension of grammar and vocabulary is encouraging for only 4 weeks of study, but sometime I come across a word that baffles me. There are some words that have little to no vowels in them, and others that sound nearly identical but mean very different things (I guess that can be said of all languages- I recall instances in Intro Spanish class in which students were asking each other how many anuses they had.)
It’s certainly not an easy language, and its applications do not reach far outside Morocco, but I’m ecstatic to be learning it and I can’t wait to be fluent. I’ve been studying nonstop: in class, at home, and with fellow trainees. We're all making good progress, but suffice to say I'm very satisfied with my progress.