What’s the best way to teach children a second language? New research produces surprising results.

Different to what people might expect, children’s language-analytic ability is most important, followed by phonological awareness.

In a new study, the results showed that conscious effort & learning makes the best use of limited time spent on foreign language learning.

In other words, subconscious language learning requires much longer hours of learning over a longer period of time.

This means that even if you don’t live in the country where the desired language is spoken, you can learn effectively through lessons, including via NaTakallam conversation sessions and Integrated Curriculum!

P.S. Did you know NaTakallam offers four languages, easily accessible to you online via Skype? Find out more here.

Source and image: link.

Comfort Food Series: Fatteh

Fatteh (فتة), meaning “to crumble” in Arabic, can be traced back to the 13th century Abbasid Caliphate period. This mix of fried bread, chickpeas, yogurt, & buttery pine nuts will have everyone asking for seconds!

Find the recipe below- and don’t forget to try the Eggplant Version!


  • Chickpeas
  • Pita bread
  • Plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tsp. tahini paste
  • Salt
  • 2 tb. pine nuts
  • 2 tb. olive oil

Cut the pita bread to small pieces using kitchen scissors. Deep fry the pita pieces. Spread them on a baking sheet & bake for 5 minutes– until light brown and crispy.

Wash the canned chickpeas & place in a small pot with some water. Warm them for 5-7 minutes & set aside.

Heat olive oil in a small pan & cook pine nuts until they are brown & crispy.

Assemble the fatteh in a large serving plate — starting with pita on the bottom, followed by chickpeas & yogurt. Finally, drizzle the pine nuts & olive oil on top. Sahtein!

Source: https://www.simplyleb.com/recipe/chickpea-fatte/

Image source: https://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/fatteh-hummus

Travel Tuesday: Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

Looking for a Patagonian adventure? How about Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina! Formed during the last ice age, stretches 100 square miles & continues to grow 2 meters a day.

Perito Moreno glacier was named after a 19th century explorer & it is the third largest fresh water reserve in the world today. While you are there, make sure to hike around the base or take the boat tour to discover all the beautiful shades of blue!

Ready to head out? Don’t forget those warm layers — and perhaps pack some Spanish phrases with our conversation partners before you go!

Source: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/perito-moreno-glacier

Comfort Food Series: Tacos Al Pastor

“It’s a story of migration.”

Tacos al Pastor (or “the Shephard’s Tacos”) and shawarma….Notice any resemblance?

When Lebanese communities emigrated to Mexico, they didn’t forget to bring shawarma with them! Tacos al Pastor is the Mexican adaptation of the Middle Eastern classic, with a few added tweaks. As the dish adapted into Mexico, traditional Lebanese lamb became substituted with pork. Another major change is the garnishing of pineapples on-top for an added tangy flavor!

Does this sound up your alley? Here’s a recipe for you to try at home!

For the Al Pastor Meat/Marinade:

  • 2-3 pound Pork Loin cut into thin slices (or substitute of your preference)
  • 4 Guajillo Chile boiled, de-seeded, and cleaned.
  • 1 Ancho Chile boiled, de-seeded, and cleaned.
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 3/4 cup of pineapple juice fresh is better
  • 1 Tablespoon of Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon of Thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon of Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cumin
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Paprika
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Salt
  • 3 Cloves

For the Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle Sauce:

  • 3 Tomatillos
  • 1/4 Onion
  • 2 small cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 chipotles depending on level of spiciness you want
  • 3 Tablespoons of Pineapple juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Tacos:

  • 15 Corn Tortillas
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped Onions
  • Lime juice
  • Salt
  • Grilled pineapple
  • Tacos al pastor meat


For the Al Pastor Meat/Marinade

  • Blend all of the ingredients together until completely combined.
  • Strain the liquid over a bowl to end up with a smooth marinade.
  • Add one layer of meat in a large bowl or baking dish and cover with the marinade, and then repeat in layers until all of the meat and marinade have been used.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (overnight is best)
  • Remove from the refrigerator and grill the meat until cooked through.
  • Remove from grill and cut into thin slices to serve on the tacos.

For the Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa

  • Roast the tomatillo, onion, and garlic in the oven on baking sheet at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes, remove from oven.
  • Blend with the rest of the ingredients except the salt and pepper until well combined.
  • Put in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Tacos

  • Heat the tortillas with a little bit of oil.
  • Add the meat, the pineapple, the salsa, the lime juice, the cilantro and onions.


Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33993719

Recipe Source: https://www.mylatinatable.com/best-tacos-al-pastor-recipe/

Travel Tuesday: Band-e Amir, Afghanistan

Band-e-Amir, or literally ‘Commander’s Dam‘ in Persian and Dari, is the first national park of Afghanistan.

This natural beauty has a series of six deep-blue lakes whose mineral-rich nature taints the lake’s color from faint turquoise to deep blue.

Located in the province of Bamiyan, this natural attraction is popular with the locals who can plan a hike, rent a pedalo, or in rare cases spot wild goats, wild sheep, wolves, foxes, and birds in a distance.

In her guide to Afghanistan (1970), Nancy Hatch Dupree, who was an American historian specialized in modern Afghanistan, wrote the following account: Band-e-Amir would “rob the uninitiated of the wonder and amazement it produces on all who gaze upon it“!

P.S. Have you worked with any of our Afghan conversation partners? Whether you’re interested in learning Farsi or Dari, why not give it a try today! Find out more here or head directly to our sign-up forms!

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2009/sep/08/afghanistan-national-park

Image: https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ3ywq2j5gp/ via @masoudsoheili

Comfort Food Series: Iranian Kotlet

An all-time favourite comfort food that brings up nostalgic childhood memories, is Persian “Kotlet“, or کتلت ! The word originates from ‘cutlet‘, the western version of ground meat patties. This ground meat patty can be served hot or cold, at home or at picnics. Find the recipe below if you want to try them out yourself!


  • 250 grams ground beef
  • 2 large potato
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon ground garlic
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Grate potatoes & onions. Add ground beef, turmeric, salt, minced garlic & black pepper. Add eggs & mix well. If your mixture is too wet, add breadcrumbs. Take small amounts & flatten into patties. Fry until crispy brown. Enjoy!

Recipe: http://www.thepersianpot.com/recipe/kotlet-persian-cutlet/

Image: https://dornatrip.com/kotlet-iranian-cutlet/

Travel Tuesday: Haïti

Sun, sea, and mountains…

Did you know the name Haïti comes from the indigenous Taíno language, meaning ‘land of high mountains‘!? This is because Haïti has the most number of mountains in the entire Caribbean, and its highest peak is the Pic la Selle with 2,680 meters above sea level.

In fact, the largest mountaintop fortress in the Western Hemisphere, called the Citadel, is located in Haïti.

But.. Did you also know French is one of the official languages of this Carribean island? Practice it with our conversation partners today!

Sources: https://thefactfile.org/haiti-facts/ & http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-haiti/

Comfort Food Series: Quebec Poutine

Comfort food at it’s finest — the Québécois knew EXACTLY what they were doing when they invented Poutine… Or maybe they didn’t 😛 ?!

The origin of Poutine remains unclear.. but according to some sources, it all started in a restaurant called Le Lutin qui rit, in Quebec — with a customer and the restaurant owner. Upon the customer requesting for some cheese to be added to his fries, the owner exclaims “Ça va faire une maudite poutine!” or, “That’s going to make a dreadful mess.”

While the source(s) remains questionable, what is very clear that Poutine is definitely a ‘mess’, or a hot ‘mess’ as some would argue.

This random mix of fries, curd cheese, & gravy blends so well together, it’s now known as the bourgeoisie of Garbage Food. Try it for yourself!

Authentic Canadian PoutineWhat You’ll Need:

For the Gravy:

  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 20 oz beef broth
  • 10 oz chicken broth
  • Pepper, to taste

For the Fries:

  • 2 lbs Russet potatoes (3-4 medium potatoes)
  • Peanut or other frying o

For the Toppings:

  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups white cheddar cheese curds (Or torn chunks of mozzarella cheese would be the closest substitution)


  • Prepare the gravy: In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture turns golden brown.
  • Add the beef and chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Stir in the cornstarch and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with pepper. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary, to taste. Make ahead and re-warm or keep warm until your fries are ready.
  • For Deep-Fried Fries: Prepare your potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch thick sticks. Place into a large bowl and cover completely with cold water. Allow to stand at least one hour or several hours. When ready to cook, heat your oil in your deep fryer or large, wide, heavy cooking pot to 300° F.
  • Remove the potatoes from the water and place onto a sheet of paper towel. Blot to remove as much excess moisture as possible.
  • Add your fries to the 300°F oil and cook for 5-8 minutes, just until potatoes are starting to cook but are not yet browned. Remove potatoes from oil and scatter on a wire rack. Increase oil temperature to 375°F Once oil is heated to that temperature, return the potatoes to the fryer and cook until potatoes are golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined bowl.
  • To Prepare Poutine: Add your fried or baked fries to a large, clean bowl. Season lightly with salt while still warm. Add a ladle of hot poutine gravy to the bowl and using tongs, toss the fries in the gravy. Add more gravy, as needed to mostly coat the fries.
  • Add the cheese curds and toss with the hot fries and gravy. Serve with freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Bon appétit!




Image Source: https://www.avenuecalgary.com/restaurants-food/dining-out/where-to-go-for-poutine-in-calgary/

10 Benefits of Learning a New Language

Although learning a language can be difficult, there are more pros to learning than cons! Today’s society is interconnected and interdependent, and learning a language can benefit you in the long run with how you contribute and engage with the global economy.

Here are the Top 10 Reasons to Learn a Language!


One of the most rewarding aspects of the human experience is our ability to connect with others, and being able to communicate with someone in his or her language is an intrinsic form of connection. Bilinguals have the unique opportunity to communicate with a wider range of people in their personal and professional lives.


Language skills can be a significant competitive edge that sets you apart from your monolingual peers. They are among the top eight skills required of all occupations—no matter your sector or skill level—and the demand for bilingual professionals is rising exponentially. As an added incentive, in many instances, language skills also lead to hiring bonuses and increased salaries.


The cognitive benefits of learning languages are undeniable. People who speak more than one language have improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, ability to multitask, and better listening skills. If that weren’t enough, as we age, being bilingual or multilingual also helps to stave off mental aging and cognitive decline.


Language is the most direct connection to other cultures. Being able to communicate in another language exposes us to and fosters an appreciation for the traditions, religions, arts, and history of the people associated with that language. Greater understanding, in turn, promotes greater tolerance, empathy, and acceptance of others—with studies showing that children who have studied another language are more open toward and express more positive attitudes toward the culture associated with that language.


While monolingual travelers are capable of visiting the same places, travelers who know more than one language are more easily able to navigate outside the tourist bubble and to connect and interact with the place and its people in a way that is often inaccessible to those without the language. Learning a second language also opens additional doors to opportunities for studying or working abroad.


In a world of more than 6,000 spoken languages, we sometimes require translation, but speaking at least one additional language empowers us to access information that would otherwise be off-limits. For example, individuals proficient in other languages are able to navigate the Internet as genuine global citizens—consuming and assessing foreign media and entertainment.


Not only does learning a second language improve communication skills and multiply vocabulary in your first language, but research also shows that it makes picking up additional languages a much easier feat, especially among children. That’s because when you learn a new language, you develop new brain networks that are primed and ready when you embark on learning a third language.


Any language learner can attest to making his or her share of mistakes while discovering a new language—often in front of an audience. It’s a necessary part of the learning process! Learning a language means putting yourself out there and moving out of your comfort zone. The upside is the amazing sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when conversing with someone in their native language.


Studies show that decisions made in your second language are more reason-driven than those made in your native language. Contrary to popular assumptions, when we deliberate in a second or third language, we actually distance ourselves from the emotional responses and biases deeply associated with our mother tongue. The result? Systematic and clear-headed decisions based on just the facts.


As we explore a new language and culture, we naturally draw comparisons to what is most familiar. Learning about another culture sheds light on aspects of our own culture—both positive and negative—we may not have previously considered. You may find a greater appreciation for what you have, or you may decide to shake things up!

Find out more on how you can learn a language with one of our programs TODAY: natakallam.com/conversation-sessions/

Image Source: https://medium.com/@chacon/mit-scientists-prove-adults-learn-language-to-fluency-nearly-as-well-as-children-1de888d1d45f

Comfort Food Series: Shawarma

A Levantine dish whose name originates from the Turkish verb ‘çevirme‘, to spin/turn, with a Turkish heritage, ‘Shawarma’ is a classic comfort food which can also be made at home. Serves over pita, rice or salad, shawarma is must-try for this weekend!

Ingredient for the chicken :

  • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Cooking spray
  • One large onion, thinly sliced

Ingredients for the yogurt sauce:

  • 1/2 c. Greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • Salt
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

For serving:

  • Pitas, warmed
  • Chopped romaine 
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced

Follow this recipe & don’t forget to let us know how it turned out! Sahtein!

Image source: https://www.recipetineats.com/chicken-sharwama-middle-eastern/

Conversational Practice & Language Learning

“Learning a language is intimidating. It is a long process with no shortage of complications, even without considering verbal communication. However, just like anything else, the more a student practices speaking, the more comfortable it becomes…”

According to the article by the University of Texas student Maggie Lazaroski, authentic conversational practice allows learners to use language in a way that is meaningful to them & accelerate their learning process.

And that’s exactly why NaTakallam was created! In fact, NaTakallam works with dozens of US universities to bring conversational practice to students while supporting displaced persons.

Find out more about our school programs here to immerse yourself & your class in a language: http://natakallam.com/on-campus/

Source: https://www.dailytexanonline.com/2019/09/16/language-courses-need-more-conversational-speech-practice