We are a team of academics, researchers and teachers who have come together to design a brand-new, very special Palestinian Arabic course for beginners. Some of us are based in the Arabic Center, at the Islamic University of Gaza, while others are based in the School of Education, at the University of Glasgow.
The University of Glasgow and the Islamic University of Gaza have a long and productive history of working together. The idea of designing a Palestinian Arabic Course to be delivered online by teachers at the Arabic Center at IUG started a while back, when we all collaborated as part of the Researching Multilingually at Borders (RM Borders) project.
During the RM Borders project, a group of UK language experts worked with Arabic teachers at IUG to think of interactive and engaging ways to teach Arabic online. Because of the ten-year long Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, travelling to Gaza can be very difficult, but travelling out of Gaza is almost impossible. We therefore worked online for six weeks, using Skype and a range of other open source tools to keep in touch, to prepare materials and share ideas.
During the RM Borders project, we worked very hard, but also had a great time and enjoyed collaborating across borders. So, when the first group of Arabic learners told us they had loved the lessons by the Arabic Center’s teachers, but that it would have been even better to have more material on Gaza and Palestine in their course, we decided to work together again, to design an Online Palestinian Arabic Course (OPAC) for beginners.
We were so fortunate as to receive funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to do develop the OPAC, and to have the support of the UNESCO Chair for Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts (UNESCO-RILA), which is based at the University of Glasgow. So, over the next few months, we will collaborate across borders and despite the siege, to design and develop a course that can be taught online using interactive, open source tools. The course will suit anyone who is interested in learning Arabic with a distinctive Palestinian (and Gazan) flavour, and will be grounded in Palestinian art, crafts, culture and traditions. The course will teach modern standard Arabic, but also give information and knowledge about the Palestinian dialect.
Come back regularly to this space, as we will post here updates on our work, stories from the teams in Gaza and Glasgow, as well as Arabic language tasters to give you an idea of what our very special course will sound, look, feel… and taste like.