In the streets of Cairo, Casablanca and Beirut people speak a different Arabic to the classical language taught in universities and institutes. All across the Arabic speaking world, regional Ammiyyah dialects are how people communicate everyday. Language School NaTakallam, meaning ‘we speak’, offers classes of this spoken Arabic via Skype for just US$15 per hour. Its teachers are native speakers from Syria living in Lebanon, and they are refugees.
Lebanon has become home to about 1.2 million Syrian refugees and it’s estimated that almost all of those working in the country do so for low wages and in exploitative conditions. Taking advantage of the growing demand for Ammiyyah Arabic classes, NaTakallam is a way for refugees to support themselves and their families.
Set up in July 2015, there were initially just six teachers for around 25 students. Within a month 280 new students signed up, and more teachers are in the process of being trained. Quickly garnering recognition for its work, this small operation is taking its place in a community of voices thinking differently about how to support refugees.
Aline Sara, Reza Rahnema and Anthony Guerbidjian, Project Founders