General

woman looking out window at snow

Coping with Compassion Fatigue: Strategies and Insights

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Balancing Opposite Worlds: Life During Global Crises

On a recent day in January, I woke up to a world made white with new-fallen snow. I checked messages on my phone while snuggling with my toddler under the warm covers, then sent him off to daycare with his dad, made myself a mug of gingerbread spice tea, and sat down at my laptop for another marketing meeting that had been taken over by the genocide in Gaza.

On my break, I posted about the snow on Facebook. I posted about Gaza. I posted about how excited I was for the new vacuum cleaner I’d gotten for Christmas and how bizarre it felt to reach that stage of life where a new vacuum cleaner was worth getting excited about. And I wondered if anyone would take my posts about Gaza seriously when I was also posting about vacuum cleaners. And what kind of person was I anyway, to be excited about a new vacuum cleaner when body bags the size of my toddler were piling up? And yet I knew that if I thought too long about those body bags, I’d crawl back into my warm bed and refuse to come out. Posting about the vacuum cleaner made me happy. And besides, if I didn’t post about anything but Gaza, how many of my Facebook friends would unfollow me and never see any of it?

After all, I myself had started avoiding social media posts about Gaza.

When the war started, I sought out the feeds that showed what was happening in Gaza, convinced that if enough people saw them the madness would stop. Then I stopped sharing them. Then I started scrolling past them as fast as possible. It was hormones, I told myself; as a mother, my brain just wasn’t structured to handle photos of dead children. Then the number of dead would tick up another digit and I’d share another headline, leave another message for the White House, draft another newsletter, and run the vacuum cleaner.

The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “compassion fatigue” as “apathy or indifference toward the suffering of others as the result of overexposure to tragic news stories and images and the subsequent appeals for assistance.” Coming up on Day 100 of the war on Gaza, I was suffering from a serious case of it. I didn’t want to think about millions of people starving while bombs rained down on their heads — I wanted to hug my toddler, drink tea, and watch the snow fall. How would making myself miserable help anyone? I’d already donated what I could afford and left messages with both my senators, but the bombs were still falling.

A Google search for “how to avoid compassion fatigue” turns up a host of articles, most of them directed at medical professionals, caretakers, and educators. The tips mostly seem to involve leaving work’s problems at work, practicing self-care, and relying on colleagues for support. But no matter how much suffering they encounter, a nurse can go to sleep each day knowing they have delivered pain relief or made a sick child smile. It was a lot harder to tell myself I had made a difference for Gaza. There’s not much on dealing with compassion fatigue when your job is simply marketing language services — even services delivered by refugees.

How do you avoid compassion fatigue when you’re just trying to be a decent human being while remaining sane?

Mari Andrew’s Wisdom: Poetry for Difficult Times

Comfort and counsel can come from surprising places, and a few weeks ago, a Facebook memory brought back a certain poem: “I am washing my face before bed while a country is on fire. It feels dumb to. It feels dumb not to. It has never been this way, and it has always been this way. Someone has always clinked a cocktail glass in one hemisphere as someone loses a home in another while someone falls in love in the same apartment building where someone grieves. The fact that suffering, mundanity, and beauty coincide is unbearable and remarkable.”

I first encountered these powerful words in the opening days of the war on Ukraine, and at the time I think I assumed they had been written for that occasion. After Google failed me on compassion fatigue, I tried the opening lines of this poem and found the whole text, as well as the author Mari Andrew’s own reflections on its writing. To my surprise, it wasn’t about Ukraine at all; it was written in reference to the literal wildfires that had consumed the country of Australia in January 2020. (“How is a person supposed to do ordinary things like fall in love when a quick phone scroll is both advertising discount designer socks and informing me that 12 million acres have burned?” she asks.) But the words, the author said, had carried her through the ensuing Covid pandemic and beyond for the same reasons they continue to circulate on social media today: I am not the only one feeling trapped between the horrific headlines, the vacuum cleaner, and the new-fallen snow. We are all struggling.

At the same time, I realized that I had never actually seen the entire poem. It’s usually the opening lines that get shared online because those are the lines that convey the emotion without making reference to specific circumstances. And yet Andrew isn’t just pouring out her heart with this poem; she’s also working toward solutions. “I despair with an exhale, then I refuse to despair, with an inhale. … ‘I must choose between despair and energy—I choose the latter.’ — Keats. What does it look like to state in the midst of smoke: I choose energy? For starters, I choose to finish washing my face. Then…” Andrew goes on to elaborate a list of concrete actions she is taking: eating less meat, buying new music, keeping money in her pocket to give away to someone who needs it, buying from an Aboriginal-owned business and attending a birthday party.

What’s interesting about this list is that not all of these activities had direct bearing on the wildfires. Eating less meat is, of course, an established way to combat climate change, and one can see how buying from Aboriginal-owned businesses becomes doubly important when Aboriginal communities are burning. But why does she decide to give $5 to a needy stranger? How does celebrating a friend’s birthday help? “I choose to do the things that I may think are too insignificant to matter, because sometimes protesting is an act of grieving and small choices toward energy keep me from despair,” she writes, “because grief and celebration often happen in the same night.”

I believe that all of us, whether this year’s fight be climate change, Covid, Ukraine, Congo, Gaza or whatever 2024 and 2025 have in store, can benefit from Mari Andrew’s wisdom. In that vein, I’m going to finish by sharing a few practical ideas for combating compassion fatigue that I have developed over the past few months, as we all struggle to be decent human beings while staying sane.

Combatting Compassion Fatigue: Practical Tips

  1. Continue to do the things that bring you joy. Go to the birthday parties. Drink the tea. Hug your children, and watch the new-fallen snow. You are not helping the people of Gaza or anywhere else by adding to the world’s sorrow. You are not betraying them by feeling happy. Your emotions make no difference to Gaza one way or another, so you might as well laugh with those who laugh.
  2. Make space to mourn with those who mourn. Reach out to those who are hurting. Take time to send a message to one of NaTakallam’s Palestinian Language Partners or the countless other Gazans who continue to cling to the Internet as their only window out of a living hell. Let them know you are thinking of them, or praying for them, or fighting for them. Make sure they remember that they are not alone.
  3. Set up a recurring donation. Instead of thinking in terms of a single grand gesture, then feeling frustrated because the $500 you emptied from your vacation account (or didn’t) isn’t even a drop in the bucket of Gaza’s need, decide what you can afford to give on a monthly basis — even if it’s just $10 — but keep doing so. Most of us get income on a regular basis, and most charities make it easy for you to have regular donations deducted from your bank account. After you’ve made your decisions and set up the automation, don’t spend more mental energy on it. Not sure where to donate? We recommend Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, Tech for Palestine, and Jewish Voices for Peace, or you could donate to this fundraiser to support NaTakallam Language Partner Shahd, who lives in Rafah and whose family is currently sheltering several others who have lost their homes.
  4. Make decisions in advance about your spending habits. Agonizing over whether you’re a terrible person every time you buy a latte or a new music album is just going to make you avoid giving altogether. Instead, after you’ve set up your recurring charitable donation, decide on two implementable changes to your everyday shopping habits. This can involve choosing to buy less or shop elsewhere — such as by participating in the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement — or patronizing Palestinian businesses such as those listed in our 2023 Impactful Gift Ideas. Making the decision now will save you from worrying later on. In my case, seeing our local supermarket chain on the BDS list was the push my family needed to finally commit to shopping at at the organic supermarket instead. I like that by doing so we can contribute to two causes at once.
  5. Set a reminder on your phone for one weekly action. This can be attending a protest, calling your senators, writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, asking a major company to divest from the military, or any other action you choose — what matters is doing something. If you don’t have time to attend a protest every Saturday, you can still take two minutes to email a corporation. Once you’ve decided which actions to take, get everything set up. Put your elected representatives’ numbers into the contacts list on your phone (they should probably be there anyway). Write out a short script for yourself — your message should take no longer than 30 seconds to deliver. Bookmark a few “letter to the editor” forms on both major and local newspapers. Or save an email template asking for divestments.

More Preparation = Less Energy Needed Later

For all of these tips, you’ll probably notice a trend: the more you prepare now, the less effort you’ll need to expend later when you’re feeling less motivated. Emotions can be powerful as agents that drive us to act, but it’s our actions that matter.

And now I’d like to close with another bit of poetry: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” American Rabbi Rami Shapiro is the author of this famous passage, paraphrasing the Mishnah. For me, that last line has become key when fighting off compassion fatigue. I am not going to save those children in Gaza. The fate of Gaza rests in hands far larger than mine. I am only called to do as much as I can do. But I will do that much.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mikaela Bell is a freelance editor and content writer with a background in anthropology and linguistics. An American based in France, she is also fond of reading, cooking, studying languages, fibercrafts and Irish stepdance.

ABOUT THE EDITOR: Kelsey Holmes, NaTakallam’s Marketing & Communications Manager, has a background in international development, politics, social impact, and entrepreneurship, Based in Paris, you’ll also find her exploring the outdoors, enjoying creative hobbies like pottery and painting, and discovering new talent at Paris’s music venues.

Coping with Compassion Fatigue: Strategies and Insights Read More »

New Year's resolutions

Five New Year’s Resolutions with Social Impact

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Now that 2023 has come to a close, it’s a habit for many to reflect on the past year and think ahead to the future we want to build — to the changes we want to see in our lives. Many New Year resolutions focus on the individual, but living in communities compels us to remember that we should also work constantly toward our common future. We need to continuously reexamine the impact we have on the world. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of five New Year’s resolutions with social impact.

Here at NaTakallam, we firmly believe in the individual’s power to make a difference through everyday actions. So this year, we’re suggesting a few social impact resolutions.

1. Active allyship and advocacy for the final and permanent self-determination of the Palestinian people — and the sustained liberation of all those facing systems of oppression.

As we come into 2024, we are restating our commitment to the Palestinian cause. Let this be the year when we all engage in advocacy, information, donations and education to finally end the violence in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank. More than that, 2024 should be the year we call, actively, for an end to oppression and breaking into liberation as a global collective.

2. Doubling down on a commitment to self-education and the sharing of what we’ve learned.

Reading a book, watching a documentary, visiting a museum, having a conversation — all these enhance our understanding of the world, expand our horizons and turn us into more aware individuals. Sharing them with family and friends in turn can create a ripple effect and transform our consciousness from individual to collective.

3. Using money (and time) intentionally.

Whether we like it or not, money is power, and the way we decide to use it is political. This year, are you ready to spend more time looking into the hidden cost of things we’re used to buying? How much do your purchases comply with your ethical standards? While we may think that one individual’s actions may not hold much power, it is precisely this mentality that powers unethical companies. And of course, while it can be difficult or downright impossible to achieve 100% ethical consumption in our current global society, we can always be looking for ways to improve on the status quo. Reexamining our spending will also require an investment of time and energy — but we research all kinds of questions on our phones every day. Why not make this one of them? As the French say, “Beaucoup de gouttes font un océan. (Many drops make an ocean.)”

With the current siege on Gaza and other humanitarian crises overwhelming the humanitarian sector, financial support for emergency aid — as well as more long-term peace-building projects — can be a lifeline for organizations relying on external funding. NaTakallam’s co-founder Aline Sara has compiled a list of organizations that are active in Gaza and need your support. And if you aren’t able to donate money, volunteering time can be a wonderful and enriching alternative.

4. Practicing kindness and community care.

Simple acts of kindness can create waves of positivity. This year, let’s all commit to being more compassionate in our daily interactions, whether it’s by offering a helping hand, a kind word or a smile. When we care for those around us, our world — and theirs — changes for the better.

5. Learning a new language.

While learning a new language is a common resolution, we may forget that it’s a journey that goes beyond grammar and vocabulary; it’s about connecting with other cultures and perspectives through their own tongue. This endeavor fosters empathy and broadens our understanding of the world, making us more open and accepting people. NaTakallam’s mission goes beyond creating opportunities for high-quality virtual language exchange: We strive to connect individuals culturally and emotionally, to tear down barriers and create community.

Do any of these resolutions pique your interest? What else can you come up with? Let us know in the comments, and let’s commit to building our collective future together!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Aline Sara is the co-founder and CEO of NaTakallam, the idea of which occurred during the height of the Syrian refugee crisis in 2014. The American-born daughter of displaced Lebanese parents, she splits her time between Paris and New York City and works tirelessly for refugee rights and global peace-building.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Federica Ballardini is currently studying politics and geography at the University of Taiwan while working as PR and Grants Project Manager for NaTakallam. In addition to learning languages, she loves cappuccino, bouldering and maps!

ABOUT THE EDITOR: Kelsey Holmes, NaTakallam’s Marketing & Communications Manager, has a background in international development, politics, social impact, and entrepreneurship, Based in Paris, you’ll also find her exploring the outdoors, enjoying creative hobbies like pottery and painting, and discovering new talent at Paris’s music venues.

Five New Year’s Resolutions with Social Impact Read More »

woman afraid to speak, hiding face in sweater

How to Stop Being Afraid to Speak a New Language

Reading Time: 6 minutes

When you’ve just started learning a new language, speaking to other people might be the skill you struggle with the most. You’re afraid that you won’t understand what the other person is saying, or that you’ll make mistakes or embarrass yourself. You’re not alone in this; in fact, it’s actually a really common fear. Luckily, it can be overcome.

First and foremost, ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” You might conjugate a verb wrong or completely forget a word in the middle of a sentence, but is that really so bad? A good speaking partner will either correct you or ignore it and move on because they still understood your point — which is the main goal of communication — so there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Still, if you’re nervous, you can try practicing with language tutors like those here at NaTakallam. They already have experience teaching the language and are familiar with all of the mistakes learners can make.

man shocked looking at phone

If the person you’re talking to does laugh at you or otherwise makes you feel bad, that really says more about them than it does about you; it has nothing to do with your language skills! You should be proud that you can speak another language, however imperfectly, and look for someone else to spend your time with — someone who appreciates your efforts and encourages you to speak.

Before you start speaking with someone, try, whenever possible, to imagine the conversation in advance and plan ahead. For example, if you’re meeting your language exchange partner for the first time, naturally you’re going to introduce yourself, so you should take some time to imagine possible questions and answers in the target language: “My names is…” or “I work as…” and of course, “Nice to meet you.” If you’re practicing with a tutor, it might be useful to plan a topic in advance, so you’ll have time to learn some vocabulary and create sentences before the lesson.

Remember to always learn functional phrases, especially if you are a beginner. Phrases like “How do you say…?” “Can you repeat that?” or “More slowly, please” will really come in handy if you get stuck or struggle to keep up. Your speaking partner knows that you’re still learning and need to practice, so there’s nothing wrong with not understanding everything right away.

If speaking with someone else scares you, you can also try talking to yourself first. You can think out loud in your target language while you’re driving to work; describe your activities while doing housework; or have a fake conversation on the phone. No one will know you’re actually practicing!

Whether you’re talking to yourself or with someone else, use words that you already know as much as you can. This will make you more confident and help your conversation flow smoothly.

Also, speak about topics that interest you. Not only will this be easier for you because it’s more likely that you already know the right words (and if you don’t, you’ll be more motivated to learn them), but it will also be more fun to talk about something you’re passionate about. Who knows? Maybe your speaking partner will be just as interested as you are.

two women talking by campfire

If you notice that you often need a word and can’t seem to remember it, or that you make the same grammar mistake over and over again, take note of that. Making mistakes is a normal part of the learning process. Acknowledging them will show you what you should focus on during your next study session.

To be a good speaker, you have to be a good listener. Practice listening with your favorite songs, an interesting podcast or an engaging TV series. You’ll get used to the speed at which native speakers talk and maybe even learn a few new words along the way. If you’re struggling to understand, put on the subtitles in your target language (so for instance, you’d watch French series Lupin with the French closed captions instead of English subtitles), so you’re reading and hearing the language at the same time. Also, using your computer, you can often slow down audio or visual files. Take some time to repeat what you hear to improve your pronunciation. You can also opt for audio books.

woman hiding face in book

Speaking of books — if you’re more of a bookworm, reading will also be very beneficial. Try reading silently first to focus on the content. Read at least a paragraph or an entire page without stopping to look anything up, then go back and check your dictionary or grammar book as needed. Read it again focusing on new words and grammar points and finally, if you feel ready, read it out loud to practice pronunciation.

That said, always keep in mind that speaking with someone else is a step you’ll have to take at some point. Imagine how happy and fulfilled you will feel once you start communicating in your target language and seeing the results of all your hard work!

If you still don’t feel confident in spite of all your practice, don’t rush it. You don’t necessarily have to start speaking right away; you can focus on other skills related to your target language until you feel ready to talk to someone. Each language learning journey is personal, and everyone has a different pace.

Finally, remember that native speakers make mistakes too when they are speaking, even though they are communicating in their mother tongue, so stop worrying so much about grammar and spelling and try to follow the natural flow of the conversation. The point of communication is just to get your point across, not grammatical perfection, so speak at your own pace and celebrate every word you share with others.

woman talking to computer

For more information, you can explore the following sources:

Horwitz, Elaine K., Michael B. Horwitz, and Joann Cope. 1986. “Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety.The Modern Language Journal 70 (2): 125–32.
Chastain, Kenneth.1975 “Affective and Ability Factors in Second-Language Acquisition.” Language Learning 25 (1): 153–61. 
Woodrow, Lindy. 2006. “Anxiety and Speaking English as a Second Language.” RELC Journal 37 (3): 308–28.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alice Zanini is a copywriting intern at NaTakallam while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in linguistics and Middle Eastern studies. Her research focus is on sociopolitical and sociolinguistic issues in modern Turkey and the Persian-speaking world.

ABOUT THE EDITOR: Mikaela Bell is a freelance content writer and editor working with NaTakallam. Her academic background is in linguistics and anthropology, and she also taught English as foreign language for several years. An American living in France, she also enjoys reading, creative writing, cooking, hiking, and Irish stepdance.

How to Stop Being Afraid to Speak a New Language Read More »

give the gift of language

Unique and Impactful Gifts for the Holiday Season

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Christmas is coming! As the holiday season approaches, why not make your gift-giving count? Consider some unique and impactful gifts from our curated list of nine social enterprises. These businesses are dedicated to empowering displaced individuals (refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants) by supporting their talents and skills. Choose from their carefully crafted products, each designed to leave a lasting impression and create positive impact.

image of black dress with red Palestinian embroidery

Inaash sells textile products made by Palestinian women in a refugee camp in Lebanon, thus helping them become economically independent. According to their website, “Since its inception in 1969 Inaash has impacted the lives of over 2,500 women refugees by providing training, income and even early education for their children. It currently supports over 350 women in five camps.” Their garments are decorated with a distinct form of hand embroidery, تطريز (toTriiz), original to Palestine.

Based in Los Angeles, USA, Quherencia is an immigrant- and woman-owned business creating jewelry (joyería), diffusers (difusores) and soy-wax candles (velas de cera de soja) delicately adorned with floral and seasonal motifs. Original scents include coffee, cucumber and coconut! New designs come up every week, and the shopper can customize them to their preferences.

Hirbawi Kufiya is the last keffiyeh (Arabic كُوفِيَّة, kufiyya) producer and seller in Palestine. The company manufactures traditional Palestinian scarves, and they offer worldwide shipping. Due to high demand, their products are currently only available for pre-order, but you can sign up with your email address to know when the next restock will be.

Nol, نول, is the Arabic word for “loom,” and in keeping with its name, Nöl Collective connects family-owned businesses, artisans and women-owned workshops in Palestine to create garments produced with traditional Palestinian techniques such as weaving, embroidery and fabric dyeing (using natural pigments, of course!) They offer free shipping to the US on orders with up to two items.

Nol Collective clothing

Nani Handmade is a small business based in Yerevan, Armenia, selling gorgeous hand-painted silk scarves (մետաքսե շարֆեր, metak’se sharfer) recommended by one of NaTakallam’s own Armenian language partners. The creator is just getting started, so to place an order, simply send a message to their Instagram page.

Preemptive Love is a US-based non-profit operating in multiple areas of the world that are subjected to conflicts, helping the affected population by giving them food and shelter but also work opportunities. The “Refugee Made” section of their shop offers products hand-crafted by refugees (mostly women) living in camps. These products fund the organization’s  peacemaking efforts around the world.

Azmar Jewelry is a small Etsy business creating Kurdish-inspired jewelry traditional motifs. The stones and charms in their creations come from the cities of Slemani and Halabja, in the south of Iraqi Kurdistan, and they ship worldwide. Perfect if you’ve been looking for a new pair of festive-casual earrings (گواره, gwârh) or necklace (ملوانکە, mlwânkeh).

Irik Ceramics is another small business from Armenia, selling ceramics (կերամիկա, keramika) with neutral colors and a minimalistic design that will go well with almost any decorating style. Another language partner recommendation; they accept orders through Instagram direct messaging.

And then, of course, there’s NaTakallam — an award-winning social enterprise that connects language learners with native tutors from refugee backgrounds for personalized online lessons. You can choose from nine languages: Arabic, Armenian, English, French, Kurdish, Persian, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian, with language packages to suit any budget. NaTakallam not only offers a unique language and cultural experience for your loved ones but also supports the livelihoods of tutors from displaced backgrounds and their host communities. Find out why this could be the best gift for you.

ABOUT THE EDITOR: Mikaela Bell is a freelance editor and content writer with a background in anthropology and linguistics. An American based in France, she is also fond of reading, cooking, studying languages, fibercrafts and Irish stepdance.

Unique and Impactful Gifts for the Holiday Season Read More »

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

Top 10 Reasons to Learn a Language this New Year Read More »

3 Reasons Why The Gift of Language Is The Ultimate Gift

Reading Time: 3 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.

3 Reasons Why The Gift of Language Is The Ultimate Gift Read More »

10 Untranslatable Love Expressions From Different Languages

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Love is a universal language but some days you need a little extra help with expressing your affection to your loved one. Here are our top 10 love expressions in 6 languages.

1. Arabic: Damu-hu/hā khafeef (دمه/ دمها خفيف)
Literally meaning “his/her blood is light”, this expression is used to say that you find someone extremely funny and adorable! Don’t forget that gender matters in Arabic: when referring to a male, use damu-hu khafeef, and for a female, use damu-ha khafeef.

2. Spanish: Eres un bombón
Like the previous expression, this phrase is a way of complimenting a loved one when they look particularly sweet. It literally translates to “you are a bonbon”.

3. French: Mon petit chou (masculine) or Ma choupinette (feminine)
This unique term of endearment can often be confusing. It literally translates to “my little cabbage”! However, you’re not calling your loved one a cabbage here but a “chou” short for ‘chou à la crème’, a sweet French puff pastry!

4. Persian (Farsi): Delam barāt tang shode (دلم برات تنگ شده)
When “I miss you” just isn’t enough, employ this poetic Persian phrase. It literally translates to “my heart has tightened for you”. This expression conveys the physical agony of being separated from a loved one – you miss someone so much that you can’t breathe!

5. Spanish: Me haces mucha falta
Although this Spanish expression is commonly translated as “I miss you”, it has a more heartwarming meaning to it. When broken down, it translates to: you make a big absence in me, or you are lacking from me!

6. French: Retrouvailles
Perhaps more relevant these past two years than ever: the unmatched feeling of joy when finally reunited with a loved one after much time apart – that’s exactly what this untranslatable French word conveys!

7. Kurmanji Kurdish: Kezeb-a min
Go beyond the typical terms of endearment with this Kurmanji expression. Address your loved one – lover, family or friend – with: “kezeb-a min”, literally meaning “my liver”. This expression conveys how vital they are to your life, like the liver to the human body!

8. Arabic: Tuqburnii (تقبرني)

No, we did not mix up our Valentine’s Day and Halloween expression lists! Although this phrase literally means: “you bury me”, it’s used to imply that one would rather die and have you bury them, than live without you! A rather touching expression of love!

9. Persian (Farsi): Doret begardam (دورت بگردم)
Another poetic Persian phrase, this one translates literally to: “let me circle around you”, in effect meaning, “I would do anything for you”. We love the planetary imagery this evokes!

10. Eastern Armenian: Janit mernem (ջանիդ մեռնեմ)
Literally meaning “let me die on/for your body”, this is said to show your profound love and care for someone! A heartwarming expression of love, to be taken metaphorically, of course ;)!

 

Roses are red, violets are blue, express love in new languages, & meet NaTakallam’s awesome (refugee) language tutors, too! Treat yourself to our unique language lessons or give the Gift of Language to your loved ones, near or far. Available in Arabic, Armenian, English, French, Kurdish, Persian and Spanish.

At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from displaced backgrounds. Learn a language, make a friend, change a life.

10 Untranslatable Love Expressions From Different Languages Read More »

10 ways to go beyond a simple “thank you” in different languages

Reading Time: 2 minutes

2020 has been a testing year for us all, to say the least. As a way of expressing our gratitude to all our language learners, language instructors, translators, interpreters, volunteers & team members throughout, here are 10 ways of saying thank you — in Arabic, French, Persian and Spanish!

1. تسلم / تسلمي (Tislam/Tislami)

Coming from the root verb “سلم” or “salama” meaning “to come out safe/healthy”, this phrase means “May you stay safe”, and can be used as a way to thank someone, while literally also wishing well for their health and safety!

2. يعطيك العافية (Ya‘tik al-‘afiya)

Literally translating to “may [God] give you health,” this is a recognition of someone’s hard work and allows you to show your appreciation.

3. Merci de tout coeur (mekh-see dah tu ker)

A heartfelt phrase in French meaning, “thank you with all my heart”.

4. C’est très gentil à toi / vous (seh tkheh jan-tee a twa/voo)

In more formal settings, one might say “that’s very kind of you”. Remember to use “vous” when speaking in a respectful manner! 

5. Daste shomā dard nakone (دست شما درد نکنه )

Never realized how poetic Persian is? This phrase means “may your hand not hurt”, often used when someone gives you a gift or prepares food for you.

6. Ghorbāne shomā (قربان شما )

Literally meaning “your sacrifice”, this is an example of a Persian taarof or an Iranian sign of etiquette and politeness, displaying humility. Read more here for context.

7. Te la/lo debo (te la/lo de-bo)

Spanish for “I owe you” – use this with friends to let them know you’re grateful for them and you got them next time!

8. (Estoy) Muy agradecido/a (ehs-toy muy agra-de-cido/a)

This is a lovely way to say “(I’m) very grateful for you” – another version of “thank you so much”, as the adjective “agradecido” is translated as “grateful”.

9. Mamnoun(t)ak/ek (ممنونك/ممنونتك)

You may hear this Arabic loanword, “mamnoun” or “ممنون”, in Arabic or Persian, as a way to say “thank you” or “I’m grateful to you”.

10. Merci (mekh-see)

Don’t be surprised if you hear “merci”, a common way to say “thank you”, beyond francophone countries, it’s also common in Middle Eastern countries and even Iran!  

Here’s to reaching new language feats in 2021! 

Happy new year, كل سنة وأنتم بخير, Feliz año nuevo, Bonne année, سال نو مبارک, from the NaTakallam family to yours 🙂

P.S. In case you missed our thank you series in the past month, check them here in Arabic, Persian, French and Spanish!

10 ways to go beyond a simple “thank you” in different languages Read More »

loading gif

Available Coupon

X