Did you know that language learning can involve dancing?

For the past two Fridays the Glasgow team run an Arabic workshop, first in Glasgow (22nd February) and then in Newcastle on Tyne (1st March)

The workshops are aimed primarily at people who are working with refugees and asylum seekers, but are open to anyone interested in learning Arabic from the Gaza Strip for study, work or just interest. In the workshops we:

  • outline the importance of giving a space to the languages people seeking asylum and/or people who have refugee status;
  • offer information on the Online Arabic from Palestine language course (for beginners) that was developed through a collaboration  between a team at the School of Education (University of Glasgow, UK) and a team at the Arabic Center (Islamic University of Gaza, Palestine); and
  • give a taster Arabic lesson for beginners

As part of our taster Arabic lesson we decided also to stand up and learn some steps of the traditional Palestinian dance called Dabke. Our team member Nihaya taught us a few steps, and everyone had so much fun!

Here are some workshop participant practising the Dabke and counting in Arabic:

Wahed, ithnan, thalatha, arba’a, hamsa, sitta!

Well, ok, we have a long way to go still before we match the professionals (see the wonderful video below for comparison 😉) but we all had a great time!

As well as dancing the Dabke while counting in Arabic, workshop participants learned to introduced themselves in Arabic and to say where they are from. Here are some of the comments by participants

“Thank you for the workshop, it was very informative and fun”

“Thank you for the workshop, it was great and I still remember the numbers”

“Thank you for the workshop and a very enjoyable dance”

“Thanks for the workshop, the Dabke was great”

We will also do the workshop in Manchester, on Friday the 8th of March. Check out the flyer below and contact Nihaya.Jaber@glasgow.ac.uk if you are interested in taking part!

Manchester workshop details

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!