NaTakallam is a project enabling Syrian refugees to teach spoken Arabic to students all over the world through Skype. It provides the newcomers with an opportunity to earn money and promotes cultural exchange between the participants.
"NaTakallam," which in Arabic means "'we speak'," is a website that gives Syrian refugees the possibility of teaching spoken Arabic to students from all over the world. The website, launched in 2015, enables students to contact a native speaker through Skype at the price of 15 dollars per hour.
The project is an opportunity for Syrian refugees in different countries, including Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt as well as Brazil, France and Germany of earning money. It also provides an opportunity for ''a powerful intercultural exchange, developing friendships between worlds that are polarized in the media and political spheres,' according to the project's website.
"NaTakallam" was created by three Columbia University graduates who were interested in economic development and human rights. The project's main team is from the Middle East.
According to the project website, in the United States, there is a general lack of opportunities to learn and practice the language with native speakers, especially the Levantine dialect, which is spoken in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine'. While academic and language institutes tend to teach formal literary Arabic, students are increasingly interested in the local dialect and primary spoken form of Arabic in a given region.
Syrian refugees, who have fled war and are living in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey have the need to find a job opportunity. NaTakallam seeks to connect these two needs. Students can register on the website, provide information on their language competence levels and interests so they can be matched with the most suitable language partner.
"NaTakallam" works in partnership with Lebanese NGO Arcenciel and with the Aspen Institute in Washington. One of the platform's founders, Aline Sara, an American of Lebanese origin, told Al Jazeera that many Syrian refugees, mainly those in countries like Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon live in difficult conditions with no possibility of working. many of these are high-qualified doctors, professors and lawyers.
NaTakallam ''could become a model for refugee communities all over the world," she said.