Month: December 2021

Top 10 Reasons to Learn a Language this New Year

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Want to introduce something new and transformative into your life this New Year? We recommend language learning! Picking up a new language, or brushing up an old rusty one, is the best way to (re)connect with yourself and with the world around you this new year.

Here are 10 reasons why learning a language would make a great new year resolution for 2022!

1. CONNECT

One of the most rewarding aspects of the human experience is our ability to connect with others. Being able to communicate with someone in their language is a vital and irreplaceable form of connection. Bilinguals have the unique opportunity to communicate and connect at a deeper level with a wider range of people in their personal and professional lives.

2. ADVANCE YOUR CAREER

Language skills can provide 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.

3. FEED YOUR BRAIN

The cognitive benefits of learning languages are undeniable. Recent studies have demonstrated that 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 isn’t enough, as we age, being bilingual or multilingual also helps to delay mental ageing and cognitive decline.

4. DEEPEN YOUR CONNECTION TO OTHER CULTURES

Language provides a unique insight into cultures. Being able to communicate in another language exposes and thus fosters an understanding and appreciation for the traditions, religions, arts, and history of the people associated with that language. This, in turn, promotes greater tolerance, empathy, and acceptance of others. Studies show that children who have studied another language are more open – and express more positive attitudes – towards the culture associated with that language.

5. SEE THE WORLD

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. They are able to connect and interact with the place and its people in a way that is often inaccessible to those without knowledge of the language. Learning a second language also opens up additional doors to opportunities for studying or working abroad.

6. GO TO THE SOURCE

In a world with 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 true global citizens – accessing and consuming media and entertainment without being restricted by language barriers.

7. BECOME A POLYGLOT

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 neural-pathways that are primed and ready when you embark on learning a third language.

8. BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE

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 will feel when conversing with someone in their native language.

9. STRENGTHEN YOUR DECISION-MAKING

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 solely on facts.

10. GAIN PERSPECTIVE

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 – which we may not have considered previously. This is likely to result in a greater appreciation for what one already  has, and/or provide an incentive to shake things up a little!

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

3 Reasons Why The Gift of Language Is The Ultimate Gift

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

On a quest for a meaningful gift for a loved one? Look no further. Online language lessons are the ultimate gift for a culture aficionado or a perennially curious language enthusiast in your life. Perfect for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.

Plus, it’s shipping-free, impact-driven and starts at only US$25.

1. IT NOURISHES YOUR MIND

Learning a language physically changes your mind – making one a stronger, more creative thinker. A study at the University of Edinburgh demonstrated that young adults proficient in two languages performed better on attention tests and had better concentration than those who spoke only one language. The study also showed that adults who had become bilingual later in life performed better than those who had not – exhibiting more robust general intelligence and thinking abilities. 

Learning a new language can make you a better listener. A study at Northwestern University found that bilinguals are better at juggling linguistic input, instinctively paying more attention to relevant sounds and ignoring irrelevant ones – making them more effective in challenging or novel listening conditions. 

Language learning is essentially a workout for your mind. It challenges it in order to keep it sharp and cognizant. It mustn’t be surprising then that language learning is an effective therapy to help delay the onset of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

2. IT NOURISHES YOUR SOUL

Learning a new language provides an avenue to explore new and exciting cultures that ignites the soul! It helps one to interact with people from around the world and acquaint oneself with their experiences. This can help broaden one’s perspective in ways that many other educational experiences cannot. Dan Roitman points out that ‘‘as a language learner, you’ll not only become a more conscious thinker and listener who can communicate clearly and think creatively, but you’ll also gain the most significant benefit of multilingualism: a broader, more global perspective.’’ 

Learning a new language can also help transcend political, geographical and cultural boundaries. It encourages one to try to comprehend experiences that are remote from their own, develop a sense of empathy and work towards the common good, and go beyond headline narratives. The people, stories, and experiences that a new language brings you truly has the potential to nourish your soul!

3. IT NOURISHES YOUR HEART

When you learn a new language on platforms such as NaTakallam, you not only nourish your mind and soul but also your heart! NaTakallam leverages the freelance digital economy to provide income to refugees, displaced persons and their host communities by hiring them as online tutors, teachers, translators and cultural exchange partners, regardless of their location and status. Learning a new language with NaTakallam allows one to connect to local cultures, initiate cross-border friendships and have a holistic language-learning experience that’s good for your mind, soul and heart! 

Give your loved one a unique language-learning experience with NaTakallam’s Gift of Language and Conversation. Available in Arabic, Armenian, English, French, Kurdish, Persian, Spanish, and suitable for all ages and levels.

What’s more? NaTakallam’s language sessions take place virtually from the comforts of home and make the perfect last-minute (yet meaningful) gift that requires no shipping. Gift a language, surprise a loved one, change a life.

Gift Guide: 6 Social Enterprises that Support Refugees

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

It’s that time of year again! This holiday season, kill two birds with one stone by considering impact-driven gifts for your loved ones. Make a difference with our list of 6 social enterprises that support the talents, skills, and livelihood of displaced persons – refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants – through their unique and thoughtfully-collated products that will leave a lasting impression (and impact).

 

1. MADE51 | Starting from £12 

MADE51 is a UNHCR initiative that connects refugee artisans to global markets. It is a lifestyle brand selling beautiful home decor and fashion items that merge contemporary design with traditional craftsmanship. Each product in the MADE51 collection is handcrafted by a refugee artisan who lives in a hosting country in Africa, Asia, Europe, or the Middle East. Whether it is their Amaryllis Basket, crafted by Burundian refugees living in Rwanda, or their Gold Glow Nuusum Statement Earrings, crafted by refugees from Myanmar, Syria, and Afghanistan living in Malaysia – each piece in this collection tells a story of skill and perseverance and would make a perfect stocking filler this holiday season! 

MADE51 offers flat-rate worldwide shipping and free shipping with a minimum purchase spend. Find out more here.

 

2. Migrateful | Starting from £20 | Digital Gift Option

Migrateful is a social enterprise based in London that gives asylum seekers and refugees looking for jobs in the UK a space to share recipes from their countries, their culture, language and stories through cookery classes – in person or digital. They also receive professional training and English-language lessons. Participants in these classes can learn recipes from all over the world from chefs coming from: Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Albania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Cuba and Ecuador. Migrateful’s online or in-person cookery classes are an ideal gift for foodies and culture enthusiasts in your life, near or far!

The Migrateful cookery classes can take place in-person in London, Bristol, Kent or Brighton or online on Zoom. Shipping-free and guaranteed fun with impact.

 

3. Sisterhood Soap | Preemptive Love | Starting from US$10

Looking for gifts that are good for your skin, the environment, and the world? Preemptive Love’s Sisterhood Soap, hand-milled by refugees in Iraq, using natural and sustainable ingredients will not disappoint. They use natural ingredients such as 100% pure olive oil and wild grown herbs. Their motto for the latter is: if it hasn’t been grown wild for hundreds of years, don’t use it! Sisterhood Soap does not use any dyes, artificial fragrance, glycerine, sulfates or parabens – making it safe for all skin-types. In choosing their individual soaps, gift sets, or their quarterly soap subscription, you’re empowering a refugee soapmaker and growing the sisterhood! 

Rebuild lives one bar at a time. Preemptive Love ships worldwide from the US. Shipping rates and times will vary according to items, courier and location.

 

4. Anchor of Hope Box | Starting from US$36

The Anchor of Hope Box is a monthly subscription box filled with original, lifestyle items handmade by refugees, survivors of human trafficking and other vulnerable situations. In doing so, they endeavor to give hope and dignity to individuals who are working to overcome poverty and injustice that has impacted their lives. The monthly subscription boxes include well-thought-out and researched products ranging from jewelry, ceramics, art works to home decor and spices. Each month, the subscription box will contain 3 quality, handmade items as well as an information card about the products and the artisans that made them. Gift a loved one an Anchor of Hope Box this holiday season and share the joy of a gift that keeps giving! 

Anchor of Hope Box currently only ships to the US. Shipping rates and times may vary according to the location.

 

5. SEP Jordan | Starting from €35

A Swiss-based social enterprise, SEP Jordan is a luxury fashion & lifestyle business with a social impact focus. Its mission is to bring thousands of refugees, located in the Jerash “Gaza” Camp in Jordan, above the poverty line: by leveraging their skills and talent in hand embroidery. They currently work with over 500 embroidery artists, mostly women, enabling them to regain their economic and emotional independence. Their hand-embroidered keffiyehs (كوفية‎), beautiful cashmere shawls, and bespoke accessories, all packed with love and heritage, would make quality gifts for loved ones. Additionally, they offer Gift Card options starting from €50. 

SEP Jordan ships worldwide via DHL Express. Shipping rates and times may vary according to the location.

 

6. NaTakallam | Starting from $25 | Digital Gift 

Last, but not least, NaTakallam is an award-winning social enterprise that pairs language learners with native tutors from refugee backgrounds for one-on-one online lessons! You can choose from an array of languages – including Arabic, Armenian, Kurdish, Persian, French and Spanish – and gift packages to fit your budget. With NaTakallam’s language sessions you can give your loved one an experience of a language and culture while also supporting the livelihood of tutors from displaced backgrounds and their host communities. It makes a perfect stocking stuffer for a beloved language-enthusiast looking for a life-changing experience (both theirs and their tutors alike)!

Give the Gift of Conversation to a language lover in your life, near or far. Suitable for all levels and ages. This gift is paperless and shipping-free (i.e it can be “virtually” shipped worldwide).

7 Meaningful Gift Ideas To Make Someone’s Holiday

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

This holiday season, spread love and stand out from the crowd with meaningful gifts that help transcend borders and offer your loved ones a tangible experience of the world from the comforts of home. Go the extra mile (without breaking the bank) by choosing gifts that speak to their senses, curiosity and wanderlust. Whether you are looking for presents for a budding homecook, an avid traveller, or a culture aficionado, here are some ideas to create memorable gift experiences.

 

1. Kitchen Gift Set | Sitti x Darzah (US$70)
This embroidered apron and olivewood utensils set is an ideal gift for a treasured homecook. It brings together centuries-old Palestinian artitistic traditions of tatreez (تطريز) or embroidery, handed down from mother to daughter, and of olivewood carving, documented as a speciality of the region in travelogues and historical documents from as early as the 16th century. While the apron in this gift set is hand-embroidered by women artisans in Bethlehem with a traditional red tatreez olive branch motif, the utensils are crafted from sustainably-sourced olive wood in Palestine.

This kitchen set is a perfect gift for a seasoned chef, aspiring cook, or somebody who needs an extra push to try new recipes and travel through culture and cuisine – Palestinian or another.

Sitti ships worldwide. Shipping rates and times will vary according to items, courier and location. Free shipping is offered to orders made within Canada and the USA.

 

2. Tote Bag, Cojolya | Amano Marketplace (US$57-62)
Made by a Tz’utujil Maya masterweaver in Guatemala using traditional Mayan techniques, this tote bag from Cojolya is an elegant amalgamation of style and sustainability. Cojolya is a certified fair trade organization that is dedicated to the conservation of traditional Mayan techniques, not as historical relics, but as economically viable sources of employment for the women weavers associated with them.

This makes a great option for the culturally curious who would get a glimpse of Latin American culture through this tote bag, handmade with love and packed with history.

Amano Marketplace ships worldwide. Shipping rates and times will vary according to items, courier and location. Free U.S. shipping for orders over US$175.

 

3. Tahdiglover pot | Tahdiglover (Starts from £12.99)
Share the joys of a perfectly crispy and scrumptious tahdig with a fellow Persian-food lover with this Tahdiglover pot. Traditionally made of rice, tahdig (ته دیگ) which literally translates to “bottom of the pot”, is considered a Persian “soul food”. Tahdiglover pot ensures that you always get this dish right! It is a woman-owned business working with other small businesses in Iran and the UK to help young people showcase their cooking talent and to make Persian and Middle Eastern cooking more accessible and enjoyable.

The Tahdiglover pot is a creative gift for anyone keen on mastering their Tahdig skills, taking up the challenge of cooking a new cuisine, or accessing new worlds through food and culture.

Tahdiglover ships worldwide from the UK. Shipping rates and times will vary according to items, courier and location.

 

4. Hojari Frankincense from Oman | Pink Jinn (US$55.46)
Dial up warmth and comfort this holiday season with the gift of Omani frankincense from Pink Jinn! Frankincense, an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, was traded on the Arabian peninsula and the Horn of Africa for over 5,000 years. Monopoly over frankincense trade is believed to have helped the Nabateans rise to prominence in the 1st century BC. This exquisite gift brings home the intriguing history of frankincense along with an effortless experience of luxury and healing. Pink Jinn’s frankincense are sourced from Dhofar in Oman, an historically important site for frankincense production, and comes in an ornate jar along with a pair of tongs and charcoal discs.

The Hojari Frankincense is an exquisite gift that speaks to the senses of the bold, the spiritual, and those interested in new experiences from the comfort of their homes.

Pink Jinn ships worldwide from the UK (via Etsy). Shipping rates and times will vary according to items, courier and location.

 

5. Queen Amina’s Blend | Amatte Coffee (£8.90)
Gift for a coffee lover AND a history enthusiast? Look no further. Sourced from female farmers in the Sidamo province of southern Ethiopia and from the Democratic Republic of Congo, this naturally processed ground coffee is the holy grail you’re seeking! This blend by Amate Coffee has a sweet and smooth taste with notes of orange, apricot, caramel, vanilla and citrus and is named after Queen Amina, the first female leader of the city-state of Zazzu, located in the north-western part of modern Nigeria. The gift receiver is guaranteed an exhilarating journey through time, space and robust tasting notes!

Amatte ships worldwide from the UK. Shipping is £3 within the UK and £15 outside the UK.

 

6. The Latin American Cookbook by Chef Virgilio Martinez | Phaidon (€45)
Discover the vibrant flavors, aromas, and ingredients of Latin American cooking with Chef Virgilio Martinez’s latest cookbook which celebrates the treasures of Latin American cookery. Replete with six hundred recipes from twenty-two countries, this cookbook will help any Latin America lover reinvigorate memories of food, people and culture from their travels and musings! Holiday gifting done right.

Phaidon ships worldwide from one of their warehouses in the USA, UK, or Australia. Shipping rates and times will vary according to items, courier and location.

 

7. Gift of Conversation | NaTakallam (Starts from US$25)
After a year of pandemic and social distancing, what is better this holiday season than connecting to another human being through language? NaTakallam’s “Gift of Conversation” is a unique gift that allows individuals to learn a new language or brush up their existing skills from the comforts of their home. What’s more? You would be supporting the livelihood of tutors from displaced backgrounds and their host communities. It makes a perfect stocking stuffer for a beloved language-enthusiast looking for a life-changing experience (both theirs and their tutors alike)!

Give the Gift of Conversation to a language lover in your life, near or far. Suitable for all levels and ages, and available in over 15 languages and dialects.

NaTakallam’s Gift of Conversation is paperless and shipping-free (i.e it can be “virtually” shipped worldwide).

 

Still need more inspiration? Check out this impactful gift guide by our friends at Vital Voices, who have partnered with inspiring small women-led businesses this holiday season.

Vital Voices Global Partnership are “venture catalysts” that invest in women leaders and change makers who are solving the world’s greatest challenges across 185 countries – from gender-based violence to the climate crisis, economic inequities, and more.

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