To commemorate Refugee & Pride Month, Get 20% OFF any Language Session Purchase, using code WRD21 at Checkout, to amplify impact during this special month!

To commemorate Refugee & Pride Month, Get 20% OFF any Language Session Purchase, using code WRD21 at Checkout, to amplify impact during this special month!

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Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Learn French

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In an increasingly globalized, digital world, speaking several languages is an asset. To those of you wondering which second or third language to pick, here are five good reasons to learn French!

1. SCALE


French is spoken by around 300 million people. It is, along with English, one of the few languages spoken on all five continents! French is a major language in international communication: be it at the UN – where it is one of the 6 official languages, or at multinational events such as the Olympics or Eurovision.

2. CULTURE


France and the Francophone world have produced a plethora of cultural icons. From famous painters (Cluade Monet, Auguste Renoir), thinkers, writers and poets (Balzac, Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, Amhadou Kourouma) to legendary singers, composers and musicians (Edith Piaf, Claude Debussy, Daft Punk), fashion designers (Gabrielle Chanel, Christian Dior), film directors and actors (Jean-Luc Godard, Luc Besson, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Simone Signoret)… the list goes on! What’s more exhilarating than diving into this rich culture aided by the knowledge of its original language!

3. TRAVEL


France is a great travel destination – with its variety of historic locations within the heart of Europe and landscapes, from Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) to the Alps to explore. So too are destinations such as Mauritius, Seychelles, Morocco, Quebec and Monaco – where French is commonly spoken, too! Learn French to converse with locals and share meaningful experiences in a number of countries from around the world – whether you are enjoying the sea in Mauritius or Seychelles, the desert in Morocco, the mountains in Quebec, or the Grand Prix in Monaco!

4. ACHIEVABLE CHALLENGE


Although it can be intimidating at first, French is not a difficult language to learn! Its grammar is similar to that of a lot of European languages (mainly due to their Romance origins). Many English words have roots in Old French – apparently, as many as 10,000 loanwords! This is perhaps not surprising given the long history of political and cultural exchange between France and Great Britain, with French once being the language of the English court for several centuries. 

5. GASTRONOMY


This is one of France’s strengths and its influence has extended to the rest of the world. If you ever find yourself seated in a fancy restaurant, learning French will come in handy! No wonder France is the homeland of the Michelin-star rating system (read more on its fascinating origins here)! From all the table-related customs (the word “etiquette” literally comes from the French “étiquette”) to the fine art of pronouncing the names of dishes, knowing French will help you fit right in!


Learn French and explore more of such linguistic and cultural connections with NaTakallam. Our brilliant Language Partners come from displaced communities from around the Francophone world. Book a session for yourself or for a loved one today and kickstart your journey exploring the richness of the French language and cultures!

5 Incredible Arab Feminists You Need to Know

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Blog contributor: Maria Thomas

NaTakallam is marking International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month by highlighting some of history’s most celebrated feminists. This week, join us as we take a look at 5 incredible Arab feminists we all need to know.

1. Nawal El Saadawi (Egypt, 1931-2021)

Nawal El Saadawi was an Egyptian feminist writer, activist and physician. Her works such as The Hidden Face of Eve (الوجه القاري للمرأة العربية, Al-Wajh al-qari lil-mar’a al-‘arabiyyah), A Daughter of Isis, and Memoirs of a Woman Doctor have over the years become a cornerstone of Arab feminism. In Saadawi’s own words, her writing was a weapon which she exercised against the autocratic power of state and that of the father or husband figure in the family.

‘‘The written word is an act of rebellion, against injustice exercised in the name of religion, or morals, or love.’’ – Nawal El Saadawi (A Daughter of Isis)

2. Fatema Mernissi (Morocco, 1940-2015)

Professor Fatema Mernissi was a Moroccan writer and sociologist. Her works include her revolutionary book Beyond the Veil (1975), a fictional memoir, Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood (1994), and The Forgotten Queens of Islam (1990). Her scholarship thwarts the popular notion that female subordination is rooted in religious texts and argues that this misunderstanding ‘‘sprang from centuries of misinterpretation by male leaders intent on maintaining the sexual status quo’’. Mernissi was a pioneer of Islamic feminism and inspired Muslim women, especially those from humble backgrounds, in their struggles for human dignity, equality and social justice.

3. Sahar Khalifeh (Palestine, 1941-)

Sahar Khalifeh is a Palestinian writer known for her gripping novels such as Wild Thorns (الصبار, Al- Sabaar), The Inheritance (الميراث, Al-Mirath), and My First and Only Love (حبي الأول, Hubbi al-Awaal). Her writings focus on female characters with strong personalities. She masterfully connects the plight of the nation with that of women, pointing out that the devaluation of women obstructs nationalist ambitions

‘‘I could see very clearly that the debacle of 1967 was the fruit of a rotten tree that needed a cure – the internally defeated do not triumph. The cure must start with our households and with those in power, with our social values and ties, with the fabric of the family, with the rules and basics of the upbringing of the individual at home, in school, and at university, and then progress to the street.’’ – Sahar Khalifeh (My Life, Myself, and the World)


4. Ghada al Samman (Syria, 1942-)

Ghada al Samman is a Syrian journalist and novelist, best known for her sublime short stories. Her writings are collected in volumes such as عيناك قدري (Aynak qadiri, ‘‘Your eyes are my destiny’’), لا بحر في بيروت (La bahar fi Beirut, ‘‘No sea in Beirut’’), and  رحيل المرافئ القديمة (Rahil al-marafi al-qadima, ‘‘The departure of the Old Ports’’). She also wrote two novels – Beirut Nightmares ( كوابيس بيروت, Kwabis Beirut) and ليلة المليار (Laylat al-milyar, ‘‘The Eve of Billion’’). Samman’s works are a bold commentary on contemporary social and political realities. She established the Ghada al Samman Publications in 1977 to publish her own writings free of editorial interference and censorship.

5. Assia Djebar (Algeria, 1936-2015)

Assia Djebar was an Algerian writer, translator and filmmaker. She is known for works such as La Soif (“The Thirst”), Les Enfants du Nouveau Monde (‘‘Children of the New World’’), and Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade (original title: L’Amour, la fantasia). Although her writings are not in her mother tongue – Arabic, she had a keen interest in the language and used French to ‘‘reproduce Arabic rhythms’’. Her writings explore the struggles she knew both as a feminist living under patriarchy and an intellectual living under colonialism and its aftermath.

Learn Arabic and explore the writings of these incredible women with NaTakallam! We are a women-led and women-fueled community that offers language sessions in Modern Standard Arabic and 7+ dialects. This March, receive a $25 credit in NaTakallam language sessions to gift to a woman, loved one, or yourself, with every language purchase of 5 hours or more!

 

This piece was contributed by Maria Thomas, a copywriter with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in art history. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, powerlifting and going on hikes.

5 Ways to Express Love in Western Armenian

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Blog contributors: Nairy Kouyoumjian, Lucy Davis, and Maria Thomas.

The month of love may be well behind us but everyday is a new opportunity to spread love! Armenian has two main dialects – Eastern and Western – and even more ways to say “I love you”. Though the two main dialects are mutually intelligible, they have been evolving separately over the last 100 years in their own unique ways.

Here are our top 5 phrases to spread the love with Western-speaking Armenians around the world!

1. Դուն իմ աշխարհն ես (Toun im ashkharhnes)
Meaning “you are my world,” this is also the name of a famous song by Armenian-American singer Paul Baghdadlian, known as the King of Love Songs.

2. Սիրելիս (Sirelis)
This word, meaning “my darling” or “my beloved,” is a simple one to memorize and use with your loved ones! Use this expression (and the others listed!) to tell someone how much you care for them.

3. Կեանքս (Gyankes)
This more figurative way of expressing love, meaning “my life,” uses the same word as you would use to talk about life in a general sense.

4. Սիրտս (Sirdes)
To round out our list we have Սիրտս meaning “my heart.” It is commonly used when talking with a lover, friend or family member with affection.

5. Քեզ կը սիրեմ (Kez geh seerem)
This is the most straightforward way to express your adoration of someone in Eastern Armenian, translating directly to “I love you.”

Here’s another bonus expression: Սէրս Քեզ Կու տամ (Seres kez gou dam). This phrase translates to “I give you my love,” which you might use interchangeably with Քեզ կը սիրեմ (Kez geh seerem) i.e. “I love you.”

Interested in learning more Western Armenian? Sign up for NaTakallam Sessions today, or give the Gift of Language to a loved one! At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from displaced backgrounds.

Join a session today, learn a language and make an impact!

 

This piece was contributed by Nairy Kouyoumjian, Lucy Davis, and Maria Thomas:
Content support: Nairy Kouyoumjian is a Syrian-Armenian Language Partner with NaTakallam teaching Arabic and Western Armenian. She loves teaching her native languages in a fun and engaging way! During her sessions, she combines the basic rules of the language with discussions about her life and her culture! In her free time, she enjoys reading and doing voluntary social work.
Copywriting: Lucy Davis is a Communications and PR Officer with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing a dual Bachelor’s degree in economics and literature. She loves cooking, doing puzzles, and traveling to new places.
Copyediting: Maria Thomas is a copywriter with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in art history. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, powerlifting and going on hikes.

5 Ways to Express Love in Eastern Armenian

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Blog contributors: Anahid Jouljian, Lucy Davis, and Maria Thomas.

The month of love is coming to an end, but that’s no reason to stop celebrating love! Armenian communities around the world mark the holiday of Trndez, also known as Candlemas Day in some parts of the world, in February. What’s more, these celebrations are followed by another Armenian festival, St. Sargis Day – providing even more reasons and ways to share love.

Learn 5 phrases about love in Eastern Armenian with NaTakallam and find out more about these unique holidays!

1. Իմ պաշտելիս (Im bashdelis)
This phrase, meaning “my adorable,” might be used on Trndez, when it is customary for newlyweds to help build a large bonfire in the church courtyard and leap over it together.

2. Իմ մի հատիկս (Meg hadiges)
This is a beautiful way to tell someone you love them, meaning, “my one and only.” On Trndez, celebrating love is not just for newlyweds but for families and people in all stages of life. During the bonfire, people light candles to bring the fire back to their own households.

3. Թանկագինս (Tangakeenes)
This translates to “my precious” but don’t worry, it’s not a reference to the Lord of the Rings! You can use this expression to tell someone how much you care for them.

4. Սիրելիս (Sirelis)
This one word phrase meaning “my darling” or “my beloved” can be added into any phrase to make it loving. According to tradition on St. Sargis Day, young people should eat a small salty snack called aghi blit before going to sleep, and in their dreams, they will see their future soulmate offering a glass of water.

5. Սիրում եմ քեզ (Seeroum em kez)
This is the most straightforward way to express your adoration of someone in Eastern Armenian, translating directly to “I love you.”

Interested in learning more Eastern Armenian? Sign up for NaTakallam Sessions today, or give the Gift of Language to a loved one! At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from displaced backgrounds.

Join a session today, learn a language and make an impact!

 

This piece was contributed by Anahid Jouljian, Lucy Davis, and Maria Thomas:
Content support: Anahid Jouljian is a Lebanese-Armenian Language Partner with NaTakallam teaching Western Armenian. As a result of the pandemic and Lebanon port blast, Anahid moved to Yerevan with her family in March 2020. In her 25 years of teaching, Anahid’s lessons have helped the Armenian diaspora around the world get back in touch with their roots. Today, she is also an editor in the Memory Documentation Project of The Armenian Program of the Gulbenkian Foundation.
Copywriting: Lucy Davis is a Communications and PR Officer with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing a dual Bachelor’s degree in economics and literature. She loves cooking, doing puzzles, and traveling to new places.
Copyediting support: Maria Thomas is a copywriter with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in art history. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, powerlifting and going on hikes.

5 Ways to Express Love in Kurmanji Kurdish

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Blog contributors: Hadiya Ahmed, Maria Thomas, and Baran Hasso.

Valentine’s Day may have just passed but why run out of words to say how much you love someone? This week, we bring you five sweet words and expressions in Kurmanji Kurdish!

1. Dilê min
This expression literally translates to ‘‘my heart’’ and is used to address a loved one – a romantic partner, a friend or a family member – endearingly.

2. Ji te hez dikim
What better way to express your love and affection for a loved one than to say those magical three words – ‘‘I love you’’? In Kurmanji Kurdish, that would be Ji te hez dikim.

3. Kezeba min
Literally translating to ‘‘my liver’’, this phrase is an expression of endearment much like جیگر طلا ‘‘jigar tala’’ in Persian. It conveys their significance to your life!

4. Ronîya çavê min
This expression literally translates to ‘‘light of my eyes’’. It is commonly used to refer to a beloved family member, friend or significant other.

5. Hevalrêya min
Literally translating to ‘‘my way mate’’, this heartwarming phrase encapsulates what love is all about – companionship, a sense of belonging, and warmth! It refers to someone who is your “traveling companion” through life’s journey. Use this expression (and the others listed above!) to tell someone how much you care for them.

Learn how to express words of love, endearment and more in Kurmanji Kurdish with NaTakallam’s native Language Partners, today! At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from refugee/displaced backgrounds.

Join a session today, learn a language and make an impact!

 

 

This piece was contributed by Hadiya Ahmed, Maria Thomas, and Baran Hasso:
– Content support: Hadiya Ahmed is a Language Partner with NaTakallam specializing in Kurmanji Kurdish and Arabic. Originally from Qamishli in Syria, she has a degree in English literature and loves spending her spare time reading, playing basketball and practicing Zumba.
– Copywriting: Maria Thomas is a copywriter with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in art history. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, powerlifting and going on hikes.
– Proofreading support: Baran Hasso is a Language Partner with NaTakallam specializing in Kurmanji Kurdish and Arabic. He graduated from Aleppo University with a degree in Philosophy before going on to study Philosophy for Children in Turkey. Baran enjoys playing music, reading and traveling for recreation.

Top 5 Reasons To Learn Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A common dilemma faced by Arabic learners has been: should one learn fusHa (فصحى), otherwise known as Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), or ʿāmmiyya (عامية), a colloquial dialect? While both are important for mastering the Arabic language, here are our top 5 reasons why you should learn MSA.

1. Used across the MENA region


Arabic is the 5th most spoken language in the world, so being able to understand MSA is a huge advantage! MSA is used for print and broadcast media, law, legislation, academia, and modern literature throughout the Middle East and North Africa regions. It is likely that many people in these regions understand it to some extent, having heard it on news broadcasts, read it in books and/or learnt it at school. Therefore, MSA provides a common language among the Arabic-speaking countries, meaning you should be able to communicate with most Arabic speakers to a certain extent.

2. A practical basis for learning other dialects


Modern Standard Arabic provides a solid foundation for learning the different spoken varieties of Arabic (dialects) across the Arab world. Although there are many differences between the various dialects and MSA, a lot of words can be traced back to their roots in MSA. For instance, in Levantine dialect, to ask ‘How are you?’ you would say ‘كيفك’ keefak/fik which is very similar to MSA’s ‘كيف حالك’ keef halak/lik.

3. A consistent way of understanding the Arab world


Modern Standard Arabic is a beautiful and complex language. It is a variety of standardized, literary Arabic developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, heralding a modern period for Arabic language. For Arabic learners, MSA can provide a more grammatically consistent route into the Arabic linguistic and cultural world.

4. Accessing Arabic media & culture


Want to understand news channels or read poems by Mahmoud Darwish in its original language? Then you should choose to learn MSA as it is the language of media and literature in the Arab world and the vast majority of news channels, newspapers and radio productions. Therefore, understanding MSA is key for accessing the world of journalism and foreign affairs in the MENA region.

5. Extensive economic and business advantages


Arabic is the official language of 22 countries and is one of the 6 official languages at the United Nations. The economic and business advantages of understanding MSA are abundant and having Arabic on your CV can boost your job prospects massively! For example, did you know that the Arab world has a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion?


Yalla! What are you waiting for? Kick-start your Arabic journey here or if you’re looking for a deep-dive, try NaTakallam’s one-of-a-kind Integrated Arabic Curriculum which combines MSA AND Levantine dialect! Try a FREE curriculum session here before you commit.

What’s more? You’ll make an impact by supporting the livelihoods of NaTakallam’s language partners from displaced backgrounds.

How People Express Laughter in Different Languages

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Laughter is a universal yet culturally-tinted phenomenon. It draws people together and has the power to stimulate physical, emotional, psychological and social changes. Ever wondered how people from different cultures conveyed laughter and humor? Join us as we explore laughter and humor in five different language-cultures!

1. PERSIAN

In Persian, laughter is transcribed as either خخخخخ (khkhkhkhkh), ههههه (hahahahaha), or هاهاهاها (ha ha ha ha). 

Central to Persian popular humor is the figure of Mulla Nasruddin Khodja. Born in Seljuk Sultanate of Rum in the 13th century, Khodja was a philosopher and a wise man who imparted his wisdom through witty jokes and funny tales. A famous Khodja tale that Persian-speakers (and others) chuckled to over generations goes as follows: 

Mulla had lost his ring in the living room. He searched for it for a while, but since he could not find it, he went out into the yard and began to look there. His wife, who saw what he was doing, asked: “Mulla, you lost your ring in the room, why are you looking for it in the yard?” Mulla stroked his beard and said: “The room is too dark and I can’t see very well. I came out to the courtyard to look for my ring because there is much more light out here”.

2. ARABIC

In Arabic, laughter is written as ههههه (hhhhh or hahahaha), هاهاها (hā hā hā), or even هع هع هع (ha’ ha’ ha’). 

Like Mulla Nasruddin Khodja in the Persian-speaking world, Arabic-speaking countries too have a popular figure who effortlessly combines humor and wisdom. Known as Juha, Djoha, or Goha, this figure first appeared in Al-Jahiz’s 9th-century book “Saying on Mules” (القول في البغال). However, over the centuries, the character of Juha was merged with that of Mulla Nasruddin Khodja. Juha appears in thousands of tales, always witty, sometimes wise, and other times gently absurd – a butt of his own jokes. 

In one story, a man sees Juha across a raging river. “How do I get across?” the man cries. “You are there already!” Juha shouts back.

3. SPANISH

In Spanish, laughter is expressed as jajajaja (hahahaha). 

The Spanish sense of humor is well encapsulated in Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a mock epic which satirizes early modern obsession with noble knights, ridiculous quests and chivalric attitudes. Published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615, it is considered one of the founding works of western literature. Humor in Don Quixote is subtle but sharp. Cervantes sets his story as follows, before going on to describe the absurd adventures of his titular character:

“En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no hace mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor.”

(‘‘Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.’’)

4. ARMENIAN

In Armenian, laughter is transcribed as հա հա հա (ha ha ha). 

Humor, in more recent times, has been used by Armenians as a form of resistance and empowerment. The famous Radio Yerevan jokes are an example. Popular in the 20th century, these jokes took a Question & Answer format, mimicking that of popular series on Armenian Radio. 

When asked ‘‘Could an atomic bomb destroy our beloved town, Yerevan, with its splendid buildings and beautiful gardens?’’

Radio Yerevan answered: ‘‘In principle, yes. But Moscow is a far more beautiful city.’’

5. FRENCH

In French, laughter is often expressed with the initials mdr’ for mort de rire (dying of laughter) – equivalent to LOL in English. 

French humor is celebrated in cartoonist André Franquin’s Gaston, a gag-a-day comic strip first published in 1957 in the comic strip Spirou. The series focuses on the everyday life of Gaston Lagaffe (meaning Gaston “the blunder”), a lazy and accident-prone office junior working at Spirou’s office in Brussels. It is much loved not only for its perfectly timed comedy, but also for its warm outlook on everyday life.

Explore humor and laughter in different languages this New Year with NaTakallam’s native language partners! Sign up for sessions here or spread the laughter (it’s contagious!) with a loved one by gifting a NaTakallam session here – an experience like no other.

Gaston comic visual source: philonomist.com/en/article/innovation-smile-gaston-lagaffe

8 New Year’s Traditions Around The World

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As we ring in New Year 2022, here are different traditions that mark the beginning of the year from around the world!

 

1. Syria & Lebanon: a ‘‘white dish’’


In Syria and parts of
Lebanon, New Year’s is celebrated with a “white dish” representing the hope for all things good for the year. The ‘‘white dish’’ could be a scrumptious plate of shakriyeh, kibbeh labanieh, sheikh el mahshi, muhalabia or just a simple bowl of cereal with milk1. As in several other cultures, the color white is considered particularly auspicious for New Year’s as it is associated with new beginnings, peace and prosperity. 

2. Ecuador: burning the Año Viejo (‘‘old year’’)


In Ecuador, the New Year is ushered in with the burning of effigies of all people/things that represent the year gone by. These effigies could range from that of politicians, television personalities to that of beloved superheroes and cartoon characters. As a part of the
tradition of Año Viejo, revelers jump over the burning effigies twelve times for each month of the year in a symbolic cleansing of the bad from the past year before commencing the New Year.2

3. Armenia: breaking of the ‘‘year bread’’


In Armenia, a sweet bread called the
‘‘year bread’’ (also known as gata, darin, or darehats) is baked to mark the New Year. Although the recipe for this bread varies from region to region, it usually consists of flour, sugar, butter, eggs and often an Armenian yogurt known as matsoni. A coin, walnut, or a button is hidden in this bread and when it is broken (yes, broken not cut)3 on New Year’s the person who finds it in their piece is considered to have the best fortune for the year. 

4. Spain: las doce uvas de la suerte (the 12 grapes of luck)


In Spain, twelve grapes are eaten, synchronized with the sound of the twelve strikes of the bell marking the New Year.
This tradition is believed to lead an individual into twelve lucky and prosperous months. In more recent years, the grapes are stuffed into the mouth all at once and the ringing of the bell is substituted with loud cheers from family and friends.

5. Peru: three potatoes 


In Peru, three potatoes – one peeled, one half peeled, and one unpeeled – are hidden under a chair or a couch before midnight. When family/friends gather at midnight, a potato is picked at random.
This potato is believed to predict the person’s/family’s fortunes for the year to come. The peeled potato signifies bad financial fortune, half-peeled signifies a normal year, and unpeeled signifies a great bounty in the year ahead.

6. France: galette de Rois (‘‘Kings’ cake’’)


In France, New Year celebrations extend to January 6, when the feast of Epiphany – marking the three wise men’s visit to baby Jesus – is celebrated. On this day, people tuck into a sweet pastry called
galette des Rois. Two little figurines are hidden inside the pastry; whoever finds it is deemed King or Queen for the day. 

 

7. Iran: the haftseen (هفت‌ سین), table spread of seven S’s


Iranians celebrate their New Year,
Nowruz (نوروز), at the beginning of spring (on March 20th or 21st). They usher in the New Year with a ‘haft-seen’ table, set with seven symbolic dishes starting with the Persian letter seen (س, S). These may include sabzeh (سبزه, sprouts) for rebirth, sekkeh (سکه, coins) for wealth, sib (سیب, apple) for beauty, samanoo (سمنو, pudding) for bravery, sumaq (سماق, spice) for sunshine, seer (سیر, garlic) for health, and serkeh (سرکه, vinegar) for patience. 

8. From ancient Babylonia to you (wherever you are) today: New Year’s resolutions


The Babylonian
akitu festival is one of the oldest recorded New Year celebrations in the world. It developed from a semiannual agricultural festival to an annual New Year’s national holiday, and reached its zenith in the first millennium B.C.E.4 As a part of the festivities, Babylonians would make promises to gods to return borrowed objects and to pay any outstanding debts – these became an early forerunner to our own New Year’s resolutions today! According to a 2016 study, 41% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. They are, after all, a triumph of hope over experience.

As we see above, different countries and regions of the world usher in the New Year in their own unique ways, however, common to them all is the hope for a new year full of happiness, peace and prosperity. 

If your New Year celebrations this year include a resolution, consider learning a new language or brushing up an old one! If you’re on the fence, check out our top 10 reasons why learning a new language will benefit you. NaTakallam’s language learning is taught by displaced, native speakers and is available in Armenian, Arabic (MSA+ dialects), English, French, Kurdish, Persian and Spanish. This New Year, learn new languages, create new experiences!

Wishing all our readers and learners a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year 2022!

 


1  Siham Tergeman. Daughter of Damascus: A Memoir. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994. p.52. 
2 This symbolic jumping over flames can also be found in Iranian New Year (Nowruz) celebrations. See, no. 7 to learn more.
3 To some Armenians, bread symbolizes abundance, and hence, it is never cut with a knife (but broken) so as not to curb their good luck. For more, see: Nane Khachatryan, New Year in Armenia: A Festive Dinner, ecokayan.com/armenia/travel/explore/new-year-dinner-in-armenia. 
4 Julye M. Bidmead, The Akitu Festival: Religious Continuity and Royal Legitimation in Mesopotamia. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2004. Introduction.

 

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

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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.

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