Getting Children to Think Globally: NaTakallam in the Classroom

February 21, 2018The NaTakallam team

For the next month, educators can take advantage of free NaTakallam sessions to encourage global learning in the classroom.

NaTakallam is a social venture that connects forcibly displaced individuals (primarily Syrian and Iraqi) with Arabic learners worldwide for language practice over Skype. Recently, they partnered with The British Council and Qatar Foundation International (QFI) to promote the dissemination of Arabic culture and language in schools around the world. Until March 2nd, the British Council and QFI have agreed to cover the costs for any school in the United States, Canada, Brazil, and the United Kingdom wishing to host a live session, a total value of $70/hour.

NaTakallam caters to students in need of affordable, flexible Arabic practice with native speakers on the one hand, while providing displaced individuals with a source of income, marketable skills, and enriching work opportunity on the other – in order to combat the workforce restrictions and language barriers faced in their host country.

To date, 100 displaced persons and over 1,800 individuals in more than 65 countries have engaged in more than 17,000 hours of NaTakallam sessions, through individual purchases or university partnerships and programming. Since starting in August 2015, displaced people have self-generated over $240,000 through their work with NaTakallam.

A Growing K-12 Presence

NaTakallam has been developing a K-12 program over the last year. Their partnerships include Bronx International High School, in New York, where Yemeni students worked on Arabic calligraphy, and Renaissance College in Hong Kong, where a class of fourth graders learned about migration and cross-cultural exchange with refugee conversation partners. Recently, NaTakallam was named one of the Top Educational Innovations of 2017 by the educational organization HundrED. You can read about this in their article: "6 Awe-Inspiring Ways to Get Kids Thinking Globally."

HundrED aims to share inspiring ideas and projects across borders to help improve the future of education globally. To achieve this, a team of researchers investigated innovations from around the world to determine 100 projects that are changing the face of education. The innovations were identified through research, events and recommendations; over 700 projects were evaluated based on their originality, impact, and scalability. NaTakallam was chosen due to its unique pioneering status and ability to create scalable impact.

NaTakallam in the Classroom

Many schools around the world have already taken advantage of this opportunity. At the Westborough School in Essex, elementary school students enjoyed a session on Arabic culture. Meanwhile, at the Lindblom Math & Science Academy in Chicago, Honors Arabic students delved into more complex topics with Mona, a Syrian refugee residing in Lebanon. Mr. Fadi Abughoush, an Arabic teacher at the high school, said the sessions were valuable by “providing opportunities to connect with the Arab world.” From younger students to high school students, the sessions are tailored to fit the classroom needs.

Bring NaTakallam to Your Classroom!

Educators in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Brazil can sign up for free NaTakallam sessions on their website. The NaTakallam staff works to find a trained speaker for each event. The sessions can be on a variety of topics, from Arabic lessons to a discussion of life in a refugee camp. Each session is worth $70, and is individually according to the desires of the teachers, and the age of the students. Since NaTakallam focuses on vulnerable displaced populations in the Middle East, many conversation partners are based there – though NaTakallam works with individuals in 13 countries around the world.

Partnering with Foundations

QFI inspires meaningful connections to the Arab world by creating a global community of diverse learners and educators and will offer Arabic language courses to UK students as part of QFI’s K-12 programme. The programme officially launched on the United Nations (UN) Arabic Language Day on the 18th December 2017 and will run until 2nd March 2018.

“Having partnered with NaTakallam in the U.S., we are excited and proud to make these conversations in Arabic with a refugee from the Middle East available to interested students in the UK. Together, we are providing truly unique language and cultural learning opportunities that benefit not only displaced Arabic-speakers but also a growing community of young Arabic learners,” said Maggie Mitchell Salem, QFI’s Executive Director.

Any questions about the promotion can be addressed to


Photo Credits: NaTakallam

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