Celebrating connections!

It’s been a while… The end of the Online Palestinian Arabic project has meant a flurry of end-of-project activities to promote the Online Arabic from Palestine (OAfP)  course at the Glasgow end of the screen, and the start of teaching for the Gaza team. A substantial number of people has already made inquiries on the OAfP course, and several learners have already started learning Arabic with our wonderful Gaza colleagues. You can watch here the latest promo video the Gaza team produced, to advertise the OAfP course and all the other Arabic courses they offer, which cater for all abilities and needs.

Meanwhile, a few days ago, at the University of Glasgow we celebrated all the collaborations between our institution and the Islamic University of Gaza. As well as the Online Arabic from Palestine project, which is based in the School of Education, two other important collaborations were also celebrated. One was the EAST project which, for the past four years, has been twinning overseas student-engineers in Glasgow (at UofG School of Modern Languages and Cultures) with engineers in Gaza over five weeks each summer, to discuss authentic engineering issues through the medium of English. The other cause for celebration was the arrival at the University of Glasgow of twenty Master’s students from the Islamic University of Gaza, most of whom managed to miss a lesson (thanks to their very understanding teachers!) to be with us and with their IUG colleagues on the other side of the screen.

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Celebrating Glasgow-Gaza collaborations

The Master’s students are in Glasgow on an Erasmus+ scholarship. Some will stay for the whole academic year, some can only study with us for six months. All tell long stories of hope, uncertainty, happiness and tiring journeys. Sandra White, the Member of the Scottish Parliament who represents the constituency for the University of Glasgow, was with us to celebrate all our great projects and the ongoing partnership between our universities, as were many of the people who have been (and still are) working on both sides of screens  – and through screens – to make these projects happen. No wonder there were so many smiley faces! 😊

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ps – don’t forget that you can register to learn Arabic with IUG teachers by contacting us through the contact link above or through the Arabic Center. Also, don’t forget to follow the Arabic Center on Facebook and/or Twitter for the latest news!

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!

Learning Arabic as linguistic solidarity

Only last week, the Israeli parliament passed a controversial law that downgrades Arabic from an official language to one with “special status”, thus denying its sizeable Arab speaking population (one fifth of the total, the vast majority of which are Palestinians) the dignity of having their language and culture publicly recognised. This law appears designed to humiliate and declass even further Israel’s Arab population.

In the besieged Gaza Strip, where life becomes harder by the day, our Palestinian colleagues keep on working to put the finishing touches to the Palestinian Arabic course. Inshallah, it will be ready by mid-August for anyone interested to start learning Arabic online with capable teachers based in the Gaza Strip. Learning can be delivered to individuals or to small groups using digital technologies. Below are a few screenshots from some of the course’s lessons, as a small preview:

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Unit 4 lesson 2: at the House of Sweets (Gaza Strip)
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Unit 3 lesson 2: at the Souk Al-Zawya (Gaza Strip)

At this particular historical juncture, when some Palestinians are denied the equal dignity that comes from public recognition of their language and identity, learning Arabic steeped in Palestinian culture seems even more important: a way to enrich one’s knowledge and to open up new and exciting opportunities for communication, but also an act of ‘linguistic solidarity’ with the people whose language has just been declassed.

In the next few days, we will post here all the details about the course, so watch this space!