Gaza’s new online Arabic teachers will soon teach their first lesson!

It was quite windy this week in Gaza. We could see the trees outside the classroom’s window swaying. As always, when we Skype the Arabic Center at the Islamic University of Gaza, we could hear the constant background noise of car horns. This has become a familiar sound, one which we – in Glasgow – have come to associate with our meetings and online work over the last two years.

In the past few weeks, the Arabic Center has been bubbling with activity even more than usual, as the Gaza and Glasgow teams are jointly training 18 new teachers to teach Arabic online. They are all already expert language teachers, but teaching online throws up new challenges, and they need to get used to the ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’ reality of online teaching, with the vagaries of screen sharing and of software that plays unexpected tricks. The main lesson we are learning together is how to find the fine balance between using technology as a tool to teach and keeping technology under control. Sometimes our mini-Arabic lessons result in moments of confusion, with much merriment for all involved:

But for the most part we all learn a lot during the training sessions (trainers and trainees) and we could not ask for a more committed, enthusiastic, creative group of teachers!

The trainee teachers will soon teach their first online lesson to the many kind people who volunteered one hour of their time to help. We are sure that learners and teachers will have a great time, and we look forward to getting feedback on the trial lessons.

Teaching online can be tricky but also really rewarding, especially for Gaza’s teachers who are, with few exceptions, denied the opportunity to travel and meet new people, an opportunity that so many, in more ‘lucky’ countries, take for granted. Inshallah, the trial lessons will be the start of some new friendships!

Best of luck with your first lesson, everyone! 

A mini Palestinian Arabic lesson

Scroll down for a short lesson by Nihaya!

But first…

We need volunteer learners for the Arabic teachers that are training right now. If you are interesting in joining us and have a small taster, do get in touch by writing to Hala (see below):

And now, here’s Nihaya’s Palestinian Arabic taster:

We have used a few words of Arabic in our posts before. You’ll have come across Marhaba (Hello) or Ma’salama (Bye). These are words that are very common in Modern Standard Arabic and that people also use in Gaza all the time.

However, we now want to teach you some common expressions that you may hear when you talk to someone speaking Palestinian Arabic. Some of these colloquial expressions are used in other Arab countries, but they are not considered Standard Arabic. They are words from the variety of Arabic that is spoken in Palestine and in Gaza.

Yalla (يلا) means ‘hurry up , come on, lets go’

Ba’rafesh (بعرفش) means ‘I don’t know’

Mesh moshkela: (مش مشكلة) means ‘No problem’

Jad!  (!جد) means ‘ Really!’

Lahza (لحظة) means ‘one second’. This word is often used to ask someone to wait for you. If you hear this you know that, despite its literal meaning, you will wait for more than ‘lahza’ 😊

Teglagesh (تقلقش) / teglageesh (تقلقيش)  means ‘Don’t worry’ (when talking to a male/female). But beware: do not be too optimistic! Most of the time this means that what you have agreed on won’t actually happen! 😉

These and many, many more things you can learn when taking the Online Arabic from Palestine course! Check out what one of our volunteer learners had to say after a few lessons with one of the Arabic Center‘s capable teachers:

We hope to hear from you soon!

Gaza: the full picture

When doing a Google search for images of the Gaza Strip, Palestine, you may really struggle to find images that are not of rubble, explosions, smoke, young people (usually men) with their face covered, looking threatening. Below is a screenshot showing the first few images that came up when searching the word ‘Gaza’ on Google Images today.

Google’s Gaza

Since Google tailors its results according to previous searches, you may get images that are a bit different. However, whether they come from supportive websites or websites that are hostile, the images are almost invariably along the lines of the ones above. We know, because, when we were putting together the Online Arabic from Palestine language course, we had to scroll through huge amounts of these images to find some that were not of war, misery and destruction.

When our Palestinian colleagues in Gaza send us pictures for this blog’s gallery, the screenshot of the drive where the images were stored could not be more different from the one above. Compare the two!

‘Our’ Gaza

Life in the Gaza Strip is indeed hard: we do not wish to minimise this. But there are people in Gaza who are keen to show that hardship and pain are not all there is in Gaza, that people there are living their everyday lives in the best way they can under the circumstances. That Palestinians in Gaza are managing to hold on to their dignity, hopes and great determination to lead lives as normal as possible, even in the ‘abnormal’ circumstances of the situation they are in.

Kholoud Nassar is a young Palestinian woman who lives in the Gaza Strip. She uses her Instagram account to show ‘the full picture’ of life in Gaza, one which acknowledges that there is war and destruction, but that this is not all. You can watch how she portrays Gaza in the BBC documentary ‘The Instagrammer who wants to show a different side of Gaza‘.

The Khaldi Twins have also been making videos about the Gaza Strip and life in Gaza for a few years now. They too do not deny that life in Gaza is harsh, but they wish to show also all the good things that happen in Gaza. If you have access to Facebook, you may want to check out their page.

This Gaza of both suffering and strenght is the Gaza that our Online Arabic from Palestine shows too. Designed for total beginners, this course is taught by qualified, trained teachers based in Gaza. It will show you the many bright facets of life in the Gaza Strip. You can register through the ‘contact‘ button or by writing directly the Arabic Center at the Islamic University of Gaza.