The Online Arabic from Palestine course and the UN International day of Peace

It is Eid al-Adha, and our colleagues in Gaza are getting ready for the celebrations.

Eid Mubarak everyone!

Public places in the Gaza Strip, such as the Islamic University of Gaza, are closed, but work on the Online Arabic from Palestine course is still ticking along. It’s now time for the last few tasks. After some to-ing and fro-ing of samples over WhatsApp, the course’s cover is ready, thanks to Gaza designer Maha, who volunteered to do this in her free time.

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Most of the course is now available on the Moodle platform of the Islamic University of Gaza, and we are busy planning launch events in Gaza and Glasgow on the 19th of September. We chose this date because we wanted the launch to coincide with the UN International day of Peace. We had to anticipate the date a bit (the actual date is the 21st) because this year it falls on a Friday, and our colleagues in Gaza will not be at work. However, we hope that the date we have chosen for the launch will bode well for our course, for the future of the Gaza Strip and of Palestine, and for the building of language bridges to foster understanding and friendship.

We have worked very hard to make this a course that is different from all other Arabic courses (and many courses also in other languages). This course is special because:

  • it is delivered from Gaza by trained and experienced Palestinian teachers based in Gaza… (the next best thing to travelling there)
  • it talks about the challenges of living in Gaza and of being Palestinian, as well as teaching you to introduce yourself, ask for sage tea, buy a thwab (don’t know what a thwab is? If you take the course, you will!)
  • it teaches you about Palestinian food, music, traditions, poetry and art, and also to know the difference between Modern Standard Arabic and the Palestinian dialect, so you are aware of these differences.
  • It introduces each lesson with videos that will take you to a Gazan marked, to the library of the Islamic University of Gaza, to a Gazan home and to Gaza’s cafes, shops and restaurants. We are really looking forward to showing you all these lovely places in Gaza!

Of course, the lessons are designed to teach you Arabic in a Palestinian and Gazan context. Below are descriptors of what you will be able to do at the end of each level. We have adapted the Common European Framework for Languages as a guideline for this. By the end of each level, you will be able to:

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We hope that many people will be interested in learning Arabic from Palestine. If you wish to get more information and/or book a place in the forthcoming course, please contact us using the form on this blog or directly via the Arabic Center (the link is available on our Home Page)

Look out for news about the launch!

Tasting Palestinian Arabic in the Scottish countryside…

Bright blue skies don’t often happen in Scotland, especially not for a whole weekend. But last weekend the sun shone on Solas Festival, on the multicoloured tents and on the people gathered to enjoy and share music and ideas.

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Evening sky over the Scottish countryside

This year’s festival theme was “drift”, which was nicely complemented by the white clouds occasionally drifting overhead. Alison gave a lecture as the UNESCO chair – you can watch it here  – during which she talked about undertaking work in Gaza and about the Online Palestinian Arabic Project (as well as many other things!). Our Gaza colleagues were held very close in the thoughts of many, across closed borders and travel bans.

The programme featured many other members of the team working within the UNESCO Refugee Integration through Language and the Arts Chair. Poetry, music, challenging ideas, difficult questions, storytelling and visual art all complemented each other.

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One of the UNESCO-RILA Chair banners

One of the final events in the programme was a taster session for the OPAC course, similar to the one we ran at the Spring School. Lots of people chose to leave the sunny field and come into a hot tent to hear about Gaza, Palestinan Arabic and how our unique course is structured.

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Tasting Palestinian Arabic in the Solas tent

They learned how to greet each other, how to count up to five and how to make Za’atar; they heard stories about olive oil, bread and music as part of Palestinian culture, and listened to Marcel Khalifeh singing Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry of longing for his homeland. By the end the tent was full of loud applause, smiling faces and the sound of people enjoying ‘khubz wa zeit zeytoun wa za’atar’ before heading back out into the sunshine to enjoy the rest of the evening.

It was a delight to share the project as part of such an interesting festival. The positive feedback confirmed what we hoped: the OPAC course is fun, important, useful, accessible. Contact us to find out more and join!

 

 

 

 

Getting ready!

It is a time of preparation. Our colleagues in Gaza are getting ready for the Eid al Fitr festivities to celebrate the end of Ramadan, while putting the finishing touches on the IT elements of the online Palestinian Arabic course. In Scotland it feels as if the light is gathering strength as days lengthen towards the Summer Solstice. We are finalising reports from the pilot sessions, compiling a course glossary for learners, putting things in place for final reports and evaluations. It feels as if we are gathering pace alongside the season, steadily moving towards the (now very near) day when this course is publicly available, out in the world for people to learn and benefit from.

 

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Screenshot of one of the course’s exercises…

We are also excited about preparations for our slot at SOLAS festival, “Scotland’s Midsummer festival of arts and ideas”. This year, the SOLAS open-air festival has partnered with the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration Through Languages and the Arts (RILA), and the Online Palestinian Arabic Course is part of this. So we are delighted to bring a taster session of the course to the festival! We will cover basic greetings, some numbers, and how to make some Palestinian food. We are planning a fun, interactive session involving food, guessing games, music and poetry because it is just not true that learning languages has to be boring.

 

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Practicing for SOLAS…

Looking ahead, in September we will be heading to Bolzano in Italy to present our work at a European conference on education. We will also host the official launch of the Online Palestinian Arabic Course in Glasgow, which will be held in parallel to a launch in Gaza. Watch this space for more information about both these events. In the meantime, back to writing reports, finishing glossaries and looking for those tent pegs that surely must be somewhere…

 

 

Tent peg image by Jan Uthoff (Wikimedia Commons) GFDL and CC-BY 2.5