The birds return

As we wrote in a previous blog post, Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941 – 2008) – like all Palestinians, and those living in the Gaza Strip in particular – knew all about the personal and collective suffering that comes with not having full control over one’s own freedom of movement, with losing one’s (home)land and with being besieged, controlled and coerced day in, day out.

During the Covid-19 lockdown in spring 2020, the UNESCO Chair for Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts (UNECO-RILA) based at the University of Glasgow – of which the Online Palestinian Arabic Course (OPAC) was part – organised an online version of their annual Spring School. Following that, a virtual Refugee Cycle took the place of the Refugee Cycle UNESCO-RILA organises every year. Despite having moved on to other projects, some of the OPAC team members have found the time to come together to make a short Arabic Language taster video, so that it could be used both for the virtual Spring School and the virtual Refugee Cycle. We based the short lesson on the idea of birds that Darwish talked about in his poem “The Earth is Closing on Us“.

The birds in our video speak to everyone’s need and wish to escape any cages by which they may be trapped, including our Palestinian friends and partners in the Gaza Strip, who have been virtually imprisoned by a blockade for well over a decade. We offer this short taster to all you now, so you can learn a few words of Palestinian Arabic and play around with the wings that knowing a new language has the potential to give you.

A Palestinian Arabic language taster

Our friends and colleagues in Gaza can help you learn more, if you liked our taster: just click here!

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!

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!