Holidays

All articles pertaining to any holiday, its traditions, related language, etc.

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.

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Christmas in Beirut, Lebanon

Christmas in the Arab World

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Despite being the holiday of a minority religion in the Middle East, Christmas (ˁeid almiilaad, عيد الميلاد) is officially recognized in five Arab countries — Syria, Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq — and is celebrated to some extent throughout the region. Join us for a deeper dive into special Christmas traditions in three Arab countries.

Iraq (عراق)

In 2018, Christmas was declared a public holiday in Iraq, and that holiday was made permanent this year. That said, the country has had Christian presence for centuries — in fact, it is estimated that the Christian community in Iraq is among the oldest in the Christian world. Christians believe that Abraham was born in the ancient city of Ur, which was located in what it is now southern Iraq. Today, most Iraqi Christians are Catholic, including the Chaldean Rite, the Syrian Rite, the Latin Rite and the Armenian Rite. The other Christians belong to the Nestorian Church of the East, the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Armenian Church. These churches are scattered all over the cities of Iraq.

Over the course of its history, the Christian presence has been more or less tolerated by the country’s (mostly Muslim) rulers, but most sources agree that since 2003, after the US’s invasion of Iraq and the consequent rise of extremist groups such as ISIS, Christians, alongside other religious minorities, have faced threats and persecutions. Sources estimate that the current Christian population in Iraq consists of between 300,000 to 200,000 thousand people: an estimated 5% of the Iraqi population. This is a huge decline compared to the 1.5 million Christians who were living in Iraq according to a government survey done in 1987. Many of them have emigrated to other countries. So how is it possible that Christmas celebrations are so popular in Iraqi cities?

The most common representation of Christmas in Iraq is the decorated Christmas tree, which can be seen in shopping malls, hotels and restaurants or in the main streets of big cities. The Christmas tree is more commonly known as the “New Year’s tree” there, and so it is not strictly associated with Christianity. Santa Claus (known in Arabic as بابا نوئل, Baba No’el) is also associated with the New Year (al-sina al-jadiid, السنة الجديدة) because he brings gifts like new clothes. Actual religious symbols such as the cross or Nativity representations are not seen as often in the streets, except in areas where a lot of Christians live.

Of course, Christmas remains very much a religious holiday for Iraq’s Christian communities. On Christmas Eve, Chaldean Christian families gather and hold candles while one of the children reads aloud the story of the birth of Jesus in Syriac, the language of liturgy for Assyrians and Chaldean Christians. After the reading, everyone sings over a bonfire of thorn bushes. Tradition says that if the thorns burn completely and turn to ash, the upcoming year will be a lucky and prosperous one. Afterwards, believers jump over the ashes three times and make a wish.

Iraqi Christians gather for a bonfire of thorn bushes.

Lebanon (لبنان)

With around 30% percent of the population being Christian, Christmas is big in Lebanon. The 18 different Christian communities present in the country also bring a lot of diversity to their Christmas celebrations. A lot of these communities celebrate Christmas on December 25, but the Armenian community celebrates on January 6 instead.

The festive atmosphere actually starts at the beginning of December. NaTakallam Language Partner Franceline Planche explains how, on December 4, Lebanese Christians celebrate Saint Barbara’s Day (ˁeid al-barbaara, عيد البربارة). Barbara fled from her father, a pagan king, but was eventually martyred. Because she disguised herself in order to flee, children will dress up in costumes and masks and go from house to house. This leads some to compare Saint Barbara’s Day to Halloween, but Franceline stresses that the holiday actually kicks off the Christmas season.

People also mark this day by planting wheat seeds in small containers. The seeds will sprout just in time for Christmas ready to be placed under the Christmas tree or beside nativity scenes. The wheat has a double meaning: it connects to the story of Saint Barbara, who escaped from her father, a pagan king, by running through a field of wheat which grew taller to cover her, and it also represents rebirth, directly referring to the birth of Christ.

Palestine (فلسطين)

Because of the war on Gaza, Palestinians have agreed to cancel any non-liturgical celebrations of Christmas this year, but one Lutheran church in Bethlehem did set up a nativity scene — with a twist. The Christ child, wrapped in a keffiyeh, lies amidst the rubble of a destroyed building, representing the countless children who have been buried under the rubble of Gaza. At the same time, it reminds us that the original Christmas story took place in an occupied country — and thus maybe this scene can also be a reminder to hope.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alice Zanini is a copywriting intern at NaTakallam. She is currently 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 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.

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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.

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How to Wish Someone a Happy Eid in Arabic (Dialects)

Updated: How to Wish Someone a Happy Eid in Arabic (Dialects Version)

Reading Time: 6 minutesMillions around the world mark Eid al-Adha (عيد الأضحى) and Eid al-Fitr (عيد الفطر) with great food and festivities, surrounded by dear ones. Here are some of the most common greetings from around the Arabic-speaking world you can use to wish someone a happy and prosperous Eid (and the typical responses offered)!

1. Eid Mubarak (عيد مبارك) or Eidkom Mubarak (عيدكم مبارك) Across the Arab world

Eid Mubarak (عيد مبارك) is perhaps the most typical way to wish someone a happy Eid – during both Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr. It is in the singular form and literally translates to, “[have a] blessed Eid”. In response, one could say one of the following: Eid mubarak (عيد مبارك), meaning, “[a] blessed Eid [to you, too]”, Allah yebarek feek/i (الله يبارك فيك), equating to, “God bless you [too]”, or simply, Shukran (شكراً), meaning “thank you”. 

The plural form, Eidkom Mubarak (عيدكم مبارك), is equally, if not more, common when addressing one person or more, because you would be extending the Eid wishes to their families, too. One would hear back Eidkom Mubarak (عيدكم مبارك) or similar to the above, Allah yebarek feek/i (الله يبارك فيك).

2. Eid Mubarak (عيد مبارك) or Eidkom Mubarak (عيدكم مبارك) – Yemen (slight variation)

This is the same wish as above, however, it is important to note that in the Yemeni dialect, the conversation will unfold differently:

Speaker 1: Eid Mubarak (عيد مبارك)
Speaker 2: Eid Mubarak (عيد مبارك)
Speaker 1: Min al-aydeen (من العايدين – meaning, ‘‘may you be among those who celebrate Eid over and over’’).
Speaker 2: Min al-fayzeen (من الفايزين – meaning, ‘‘may you be among those who are successful’’).

3. Eid Saeed (عيد سعيد) Across the Arab world 

This greeting translates to “Happy Eid”, and can be used for any Eid in all Arabic-speaking communities, from North Africa to the Persian Gulf. The responses would be Eid saeed (عيد سعيد), Eid mubarak (عيد مبارك), or the most common of all: A’layna wa a’leykom (علينا و عليكم), meaning “Upon us and upon you [all]”. 

To specify the Eid, slightly vary the greeting to Eid Fitr saeed (عيد فطر سعيد) or Eid Adha saeed (عيد اضحى سعيد), which translate to “Happy Eid al-Fitr” and “Happy Eid al-Adha”, respectively. The response for both could be the same greeting back, Eid mubarak (عيد مبارك), or the best one: A’layna wa a’leykom (علينا وعليكم), meaning “Upon us and upon you [all]”.

4. Eid Adha mubarak (عيد اضحى مبارك) Across the Arab world 

This greeting is most apt for Eid al-Adha and is arguably less common than the generic ones above – its literal meaning is “[Have a] Blessed Eid al-Adha”. In response, the same can be repeated back, or your can opt for: Eid mubarak (عيد مبارك), Eid saeed (عيد سعيد), or Allah yebarek feek/i (الله يبارك فيك), meaning, “God bless you [too]”.

5. Adha mubarak a’aljamie’ (أضحى مبارك عالجميع) Levant

Also specific to Eid al-Adha, this phrase means “Blessed [Eid] Adha to everybody” and is one of the phrases used among Levantine speakers. A typical response would be Amin ya rab, Adha mubarak (امين يارب أضحى مبارك), meaning “Amen dear Lord, [have a] blessed Adha [to you, too]”.

6. Kol ‘am wa entou bekhair (كل عام وأنتو بخير) – Levant 

Another popular Levantine expression is Kol ‘am wa entou bekhair, translating to: ‘‘I wish you [all] goodness every year’’. The typical reply would be: wa entou bekhair (وأنتو بخير), meaning ‘‘and goodness to you [all, too]’’. This is in the plural form and can be said to one or more persons, as it is common to extend the wishes to their families, too.

In the Iraqi and Gulf dialect, slightly tweak this greeting to: kol ‘am we antom bikhair (كل عام و انتم بخير).

7. Kol sana wa entou salmeen (كل سنة وانتوا سالمين) – Levant and Iraq

This greeting is a variation of the previous Eid wish, which roughly translates to “may every year find you well”. The response would be Wa entou salmeen (وانتوا سالمين), meaning “may every year [also] find you well.”

8. Kol eid wa entou bekhair (كل عيد و وانتوا بخير) Levant

This phrase means “May every Eid find you in good health” – yet another warm Eid salutation. In response, the appropriate answer would be Wa entou bekhair (وانتوا بخير), meaning ‘‘and goodness to you [all, too]’’. 

9. Yen’ad alaykom belkhair (ينعاد عليكم بالخير) Levant 

This phrase means “Wishing you [all] good health until next year/Eid”. A typical reply would be Amin ya rab, wa alaykom (امين يارب وعليكم), translating to “Amen dear lord, to you [all, too]”.

10. Yen’ad alaykom bel-sahha wa al-saleme (ينعاد عليكم بالصحة والسلامة) – Levant 

A variation of the previous greeting, this Levantine phrase translates to, ‘‘Wishing you [all good] health and wellness’’. In response one would say: Wa alaykom bel-sahha wa al-saleme (وعليكم و بالصحة والسلامة) meaning, ‘‘may health and wellness be upon you [too]’’.

11. Kol sana wa anta/i tayeb/a (كل سنه وأنت/ه طيب/ه) – Egypt 

Kol sana wa anta/i tayeb/a is the Egyptian counterpart of the similar Levantine greeting. This common greeting means ‘‘I wish you goodness every year’’, and is also used as a birthday wish! It is often followed by Wa anta/i tayeb/a (وأنت طيب) in response, meaning ‘‘and I [wish] you goodness [too]”, or Eid saeed ‘alayna (عيد سعيد علينا), meaning ‘‘happy Eid to us [all]”.

12. Eidkum mubarak we kol ‘am we antom bikhair (عيدكم مبارك و كل عام و انتم بخير) – Iraq and the Gulf region

This popular greeting, when wishing Iraqi and Khaleeji speakers, is a combination of two aforementioned greetings: Eidkum mubarak (عيدكم مبارك), meaning “[have a] blessed eid [to all]”, and, we kol ‘am we antom bikhair (و كل عام و انتم بخير), meaning ‘and ‘I wish you goodness every year’’. It is in the plural form and can generally be said to all genders and any number of speakers. A typical response would be either Eidkum mubarak (عيدكم مبارك) or we antom bikhair (وانتم بخير).

13. Eidkum mubarak wa inshallah min al-aydeen (عيدكم مبارك وإن شاء الله من العايدين) – Iraq

This is another Eid salutation in Iraqi Arabic, meaning, “[Have a] blessed Eid and God willing, may you be among those who celebrate it over and over”. One would usually answer with Nahnu wa eyakom inshalla (نحن و إياكم ان شاء الله), which translates to “you and us [both], God willingly”.

14. Eidkum mubarak wa asakum min uwwadah (عيدكم مبارك وعساكم من عواده) – The Gulf region

This heartfelt expression means: ‘‘Have a blessed Eid and may you go on to witness many more Eids’’. In response one would say: Mubarak ‘alayna wa alaikum inshallah (مبارك علينا وعليكم إن شاء الله), which equates to ‘‘God willing, blessings on us and you’’. 

15. Mabrouk el Eid (مبروك العيد) Morocco 

In the Moroccan Arabic dialect, this greeting literally translates to “congratulations [for] Eid”, and it is a variation of the aforementioned Eid Mubarak (عيد مبارك). An appropriate response would be Allah yebarek feek/i (الله يبارك فيك), which means “God bless you [too]”.

________________________________

Book a session, today, to learn more about these greetings and the various dialects of Arabic with NaTakallam’s native language tutors! Choose from Modern Standard Arabic and 7 dialects: Egyptian, Iraqi, Yemeni, and Levantine – Lebanese and Syrian/Palestinian.

To our language partners, learners, friends, supporters and all those celebrating, Eid Mubarak!

Here at NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from refugee/displaced backgrounds and their host communities. Learn a language, change a life.

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8 Ways to Wish Someone a Happy Eid

8 Ways to Wish Someone a Happy Eid in Arabic

Reading Time: 4 minutes***2023: See updated blog on Eid wishes here***

Millions around the world mark the end of Ramadan with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. Here are 8 different greetings from around the Arabic-speaking world that you can use to wish someone a happy and prosperous Eid (and the common responses to such wishes).

1. Eid Mubarak (عيد مبارك) – Across the Arab world

This is perhaps the most common way to wish someone a happy Eid. It literally translates to, “[have a] blessed Eid”. In response, one could also say Eid mubarak (عيد مبارك) which means, “blessed Eid [to you too]”, Allah yebarek feek/i (الله يبارك فيك), which means “God bless you [too]”,  or simply, shukran (شكراً) meaning “thank you”.

2. Yen’ad alaikum bel-sahha wa al-saleme (ينعاد عليكم بالصحة والسلامة) – Levant 

This greeting is directed to a group of people and means: ‘‘May the next Eid find you in [good] health and wellness’’. It is used commonly in the Levant. As a response one would say: wa alaikum bel-sahha wa al-saleme (وعليكم و بالصحة والسلامة) meaning, ‘‘may health and wellness be upon you [too]’’.

3. Kol ‘am wa anta/i bikhair (كل عام وأنت بخير) – Levant 

With this expression you are saying: ‘‘I wish you goodness every year’’. Like the previous greeting, it is used popularly in the Levant. One would respond by saying: wa anta/i bikhair (وأنت بخير) which translates to ‘‘and goodness to you [too]’’.

4. Eid fitr saeed (عيد فطر سعيد) – Across the Arab world

This greeting is most apt for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr celebration. It literally means: “Happy Eid al-Fitr”. The common response to this would be: ‘alayna wa ‘alaik/i (علينا وعليك) meaning, “upon us and upon you”.

5. Eidkum mubarak wa inshallah min al-aydeen (
عيدكم مبارك وإن شاء الله من العايدين) – Iraq

This is a popular Eid salutation in Iraq. It means: “[Have a] blessed Eid and God willing, may you be among those who celebrate it over and over”.

6. Min al-aydeen (من العايدين) – Yemen

Similar to the Iraqi greeting, this expression from Yemen means: ‘‘May you be among those who celebrate Eid over and over’’. One would respond to it with min al-fayzeen (من الفايزين) which means, ‘‘may you be [counted] among those who are successful’’.

7. Eidkum mubarak wa asakum min uwwadah (عيدكم مبارك وعساكم من عواده) –  The Gulf region

This heartfelt expression means: ‘‘Have a blessed Eid and may you go on to witness many more Eids’’. In response one would say: Mubarak ‘alayna wa alaikum inshallah (مبارك علينا وعليكم إن شاء الله) meaning ‘‘God willing, blessings on us and you’’.

8. Kol sana wa anta/i tayeb/a (كل سنه وأنت/ه طيب/ه) – Egypt 

With the meaning of ‘‘I wish you goodness every year’’, this phrase is commonly used in the Egyptian Eid greetings (as well as birthday wishes). It is often followed by wa anta/i tayeb/a (وأنت طيب) and/or Eid saeed ‘alayna (عيد سعيد علينا)  as a response, meaning ‘‘and [wish] you goodness too’’ and ‘‘happy Eid to us [all]”, respectively.

Book a session, today, to learn more about these greetings and the various dialects of Arabic with NaTakallam’s native language tutors! Choose from Modern Standard Arabic and 7 dialects: Egyptian, Iraqi, Sudanese, Yemeni, and Levantine – Syrian, Palestinian, Lebanese.

To our language partners, learners, friends, supporters and all those celebrating, Eid Mubarak!

At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from refugee/displaced backgrounds and their host communities.

Credits:
– 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.
– Copyediting: Emmy Plaschy is a volunteer content writer and editor at NaTakallam. She currently works in communications in Switzerland. In her spare time, she enjoys polishing her Arabic skills, writing and gazing at the stars.
Proofreading support: Sally Wehbi is an Education Coordinator with NaTakallam. Her background is in education and event planning. In her free time, Sally enjoys spending time with family, seeking out adventures, and practising laughter yoga.
Content support 1: Abir Zahra is an Arabic Language Partner with NaTakallam from Lebanon. She has worked as a maths and science teacher for 4 years. More recently, she worked as an educator with Syrian refugee children. Abir enjoys travelling, shopping, and meeting new people.
Content support 2: Ahmed Aseem is an Arabic Language Partner with NaTakallam from Egypt. He is passionate about the Arabic language and culture, and enjoys helping others overcome language barriers. In his spare time, Ahmed loves to go fishing and hiking.
And 3 other Language Partners who would like to remain anonymous.

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NaTakallam 6 Must-Try Easter Delicacies From Around The World

6 Must-Try Easter Delicacies From Around The World

Reading Time: 4 minutesEaster is celebrated by millions around the world and it is not a surprise that food is at the heart of these festivities. Join us as we delve into the Easter delicacies from around the world – from Ukraine to Argentina, Armenia to Egypt.

Paska (пáска)1. Paska (Ukraine)


Paska
(пáска) is a bread traditionally made at Easter in Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe. It is made with milk, butter, eggs, flour and sugar. In Ukraine, it forms an important part of the Easter basket also known as the “basket of blessed food” (свячене, “svyachene”) alongside Easter eggs (писанки, “pysanky”) and sausage (ковбаса, “kovbasa”).

Variations of this bread are also made in Armenian and Assyrian communities of Iran, Iraq, Armenia and the diaspora.

Kaek and Ma’amoul2. Kaek and Ma’amoul (Egypt and the Levant)


Kaek (كعك) and Ma’amoul (معمول) are two cookies at the heart of all Egyptian and Levantine celebrations (read about ma’amoul in our Ramadan blog). These cookies are made with semolina flour and butter. They are stuffed with dates, pistachios, walnuts and flavoured with rosewater, orange blossom, mastic and mahlab. Each cookie is formed by hand or by using wooden moulds and each shape symbolizes an event associated with the Holy Week and Easter.


Egyptian Fattah3. Fattah (Egypt)


Among the Coptic Christians of Egypt,
fattah (فتّة) is a popular dish eaten at Easter and other feasts. It is a quintessentially Egyptian dish that dates back to the time of the pharaohs. It is made with rice, (lots of) garlic, crispy pita bread and a protein of choice – commonly, lamb. 

The word fatteh comes from the Arabic root verb meaning “to break up” or “crush”, referring to the pita bread crumbs that form the bases of all fatteh recipes. 

A similar but distinct dish is found in southern Levant. This Levantine counterpart (fetteh, فتّة), includes ingredients such as chickpea, strained yoghurt and other regional variations, and is a popular breakfast dish.


Rosca de Pascua4. Rosca de Pascua (Argentina)


This is a sweet bread enjoyed at Easter in Argentina. The name literally translates to “ring or bagel of Easter”. Like the name, the bread is shaped into a ring and decorated with cream, fruits, nuts and often, chocolate eggs. 

It is similar to Rosca de Reyes and Galette des Rois, cakes enjoyed at Epiphany in several Spanish and French-speaking countries, respectively (read more about Galette des Rois, “Kings’ cake”, in our New Year traditions blog).

Choreg5. Choreg (Armenia)


Choreg
(չորեկ), also spelled as “chorek”, “cheoreg”, or “choereg” is an Armenian sweet yeasted bread made at Easter. It is made with flour, butter, yeast, eggs, milk and sugar, and flavoured commonly with mahlab (cherry-based spice), mastic or orange zest. It is often braided using three strands to represent the Holy Spirit

Variations of this bread are found in Greece (τσουρέκι, “tsoureki), Turkey (paskalya çöreği), Romania (cozonac) and Bulgaria (козунак, “kozunak).

Petits Nids de Pâques6. Petits Nids de Pâques (France)


Literally translating to “little Easter nests”, this is a popular delicacy from France. It is a chocolate-based, nest-shaped pastry that brings together the symbolism of eggs at Easter with the decadence of chocolate. It is made with flour, sugar, a raising agent, butter, eggs and cocoa, and is served with chocolate Easter eggs nestled on the top.

Learn more about these delicacies, people and languages with NaTakallam, today! Book a session with one of our Ukrainian, Arabic, Persian, Spanish, French or Armenian language partners from displaced backgrounds, and delve deeper into the world of languages and everything sweet! 

To all learners, language partners, and friends observing this festival Happy Easter – Shchaslyvoho Velykodnya (щасливого Великодня), Eid Fasih Sa’eid (عيد فصح سعيد), Shnorhavor Surb Zatik (Շնորհավոր Սուրբ Զատիկ), Felices Pascuas, Joyeuses Pâques!

CREDITS
– 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.
– Copyediting: Emmy Plaschy is a volunteer content writer and editor at NaTakallam. She currently works in communications in Switzerland. In her spare time, she enjoys polishing her Arabic skills, writing and gazing at the stars.

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7 Traditional Ramadan Delicacies You Must Try

Reading Time: 5 minutesRamadan is a month of fasting, prayer and self-reflection, observed by millions around the world. It is a time for practicing self-discipline, empathy and compassion. 

Those who observe it, fast from dawn to dusk. These fasts are broken by a meal after sunset called iftar (إفطار) or ftoor (فطور) and reinitiated by dawn with a meal called suhur (Arabic:سحور) or sahari/sehri (Persian/Urdu: سحری). The iftar table particularly is a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds, enjoyed by Muslims and their guests from all walks of life. 

Here are 7 traditional delicacies from the Middle East that you can spot on iftar/suhur tables around the world.

 

Ma'amoul1. Ma’amoul (معمول)


Ma’amoul is a filled semolina cookie popular in the Middle East particularly in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. It is often filled with dates, figs and nuts such as pistachios, almonds and walnuts. It is also prepared in Egypt and Turkey where it is called kahk and kombe, respectively. The word ma’amoul is derived from the Arabic root ‘amila (عَمِلَ) meaning “to do”.

Basbousa2. Basbousa (بسبوسة)


Basbousa is a semolina cake, soaked in syrup, originally from Egypt. Today, it (or a version of it) is found throughout the Middle East (in Levant: harissa “هريسة”), the Caucasus (Armenian: shamali “Շամալի”), and in countries like Greece (ravani “ραβανί”), Turkey (“revani”), Bulgaria (revane “реване”) and Ethiopia (basbousa “ባስቦሳ”).

Qatayef3. Qatayef (قطايف) (also pronounced as ‘atayef)


Qatayef is a sweet dumpling made from yeasted batter and filled with cheese and nuts, enjoyed throughout the Levant and Gulf region. A recipe for it is found in the earliest known Arabic cookbook – the 10th century, Kitab al Tabikh (كتاب الطبيخ, “The Book of Dishes”) by Ibn Sayyar al Warraq. The word qatayef is derived from the Arabic root qtf (قطف) meaning to pick or pluck.

Om Ali4. Om Ali (أم علي)


Literally translating to ‘mother of Ali’, this is a traditional Egyptian dessert. Some call it the national dessert of Egypt.
Legend has it that it was first prepared in the 13th century at the behest of Om Ali, the first wife of Mamluk Sultan Izz al Din Aybak. It is a speciality at most Egyptian iftar feasts. 

A variant of this dish is found in the Jordanian and Iraqi delicacy called “khumaiaa”.

Luqaimat5. Luqaimat (لقيمات) or Zalabiya (زلابية)


Luqaimat
literally translates to “morsel” or “mouthful” and refers to deep fried dough balls, soaked in syrup or honey. This delicacy, sometimes also known as zalabiya (زلابية), is mentioned in several medieval sources such as Ibn Batuta’s travelogue, the famous ‘Thousand One and Nights’ (in the story of the porter and the three ladies of Baghdad), and in the 13th-century writer, al-Baghdadi’s cookbook Kitab al Tabikh (كتاب الطبيخ, “The Book of Dishes”) – where it is called luqmat al-qādi (لقمة القاضي), “the judge’s morsel”.

Variations of this delicacy are found in Iran (bamiyeh, “بامیه”), Cyprus (loukoumádes “λουκουμάδες” or lokmádes “λοκμάδες”), Greece (zvingoi  “σβίγγοι” or tsirichta “τσιριχτά”), and in Turkey (Saray lokması).

Zoolbia6. Zoolbia (زولبیا)


It is a sweet and crunchy Iranian fritter prepared with fermented batter, saffron, sugar and syrup. At
iftar tables, they are often found alongside bamiyeh (بامیه), the small donut-shaped bites. The Iranian zoolbia is closely related to the Arab zalabiya (زلابية), another delicacy prepared at Ramadan using fermented batter, sugar and syrup. Recipes for the latter are recorded in both al Warraq’s and al Baghdadi’s cookbooks from the 10th and 13th centuries respectively. 

Varieties of this delicacy are also found in South Asia (jalebi), North Africa (zlabia) and the Caucasus (zulbiya or zilviya).

 

Goosh-e fil7. Goosh-e fil (گُوش فيل)


Literally meaning “elephant’s ears”,
goosh-e fil is a deep fried pastry prepared in Iran and Afghanistan. They often come topped with powdered sugar and crushed pistachios and are in many ways similar to the Italian dessert named crostoli or chiacchiere. They are particularly enjoyed around Nowruz (Persian new year) and Ramadan.


Learn more about these delicacies and their cultural histories with NaTakallam! Book a session with one of our Arabic, Persian or Kurdish language partners today to delve deeper into the world of languages and everything sweet! 

To all learners, language partners, and friends observing this month, Ramadan Kareem (رمضان كريم, “[have a] blessed Ramadan”), remezan pîroz be!

 

CREDITS
– 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.
– Copyediting: Emmy Plaschy is a volunteer content writer and editor at NaTakallam. She currently works in communications in Switzerland. In her spare time, she enjoys polishing her Arabic skills, writing and gazing at the stars.

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Nowruz: A Celebration of Spring, Renewal & Resilience

Nowruz: A Celebration of Spring, Renewal & Resilience

Reading Time: 7 minutesNowruz is a celebration that marks the beginning of spring and a new year, according to the Persian solar calendar. The term “Nowruz” (نوروز) comes from Persian and translates literally to “new day”. Although the festival has its roots in Iranian and Zoroastrian cultures, over the years, it has been celebrated by communities in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and South Asia as a secular holiday.

Nowruz is marked at the precise moment of the Spring equinox (between the 20th and the 21st of March) in the northern hemisphere and across the various time zones. This year, Nowruz falls on Monday, March 20th, 2023 at 22:25 CET | 17:25 EST | 14:25 PST.

This blog explores the significance of Nowruz to individuals and communities that have faced displacement over the years. It delves into rituals, food and memories that are kept alive despite turmoil, separation, perilous journeys and novel circumstances. It also looks at aspects of Nowruz celebrations that have evolved with time. In our exploration, we are joined by six Language Partners at NaTakallam who celebrate Nowruz and have experienced displacement. 

Nowruz, a celebration of nature in spring


Nowruz is a celebration of a new day and a new life”, reflects Sayed Nabi, an Afghan Language Partner at NaTakallam, as he fondly recollects celebrating the festival out in parks with family and friends as a child while growing up in Afghanistan. 

Nowruz marks the renewal of life in nature during spring. Parks, the countryside and forests have a special place in Nowruz festivities. Families join friends and neighbors outdoors particularly, on the ultimate day of Nowruz celebrations called “Sizdah Bedar” (سیزده بدر, lit. ‘the thirteenth outdoors’) to reconnect with nature and imbibe its renewed vigor.

Marwan, a Kurdish Language Partner with NaTakallam, shares his memories of celebrating Nowruz in nature with family and friends. He recounts, “while adults were on the green meadows singing folk songs, accompanied by the strumming of a tembûr player, and dancing in big circles, children played hide and seek or waited for their turn to get in on a small rust-covered so-called ferris wheel.” Similarly, a Kurdish Language Partner from Syria (who would like to remain anonymous) reminisces waking up at 5 A.M. to prepare to travel to the countryside, wearing traditional Kurdish clothes where they sang, danced and watched speeches and plays late into the night. 

Sabzeh_Nowruz_Persian_New_Year_HaftSeen_Table_SpreadAn Iranian Language Partner with NaTakallam (who, also, would prefer to remain anonymous) points out that although the refugee/migrant-experience(s) have curbed traditional Nowruz celebrations, being out in nature is still central to their family’s observance of the festival: “On the last day of festivities i.e., on Sizdah Bedar (getting rid of thirteen or the thirteenth out of the doors), all of the family spend the day in the open fields, parks or riversides to picnic; playing games, making music and dancing, taking with them the Sabzeh (سبزه, sprouts) to give it back to nature by throwing it into the river.”

Nowruz preparations and the Haft-Seen table


Nowruz celebrations and preparations for it can span days. As the aforementioned Iranian Language Partner relates, it usually begins with, “
a scrupulous cleaning of the house and growing Sabzeh (sprouted wheat, barley or lentils) in a dish”. 

Sadiqa Sultani, an Afghan Language Partner with NaTakallam, shares: “My family and I started our preparation for the festivities weeks beforehand. We clean our homes from top to bottom, including carpets, windows and curtains. Everyone in the family helps out. Anything broken is repaired or replaced and the house is decorated with flowers. By doing this spring cleaning, we wash away the bad things from the previous year and prepare for better things to come in the new year.”

Nowruz_Persian_New_Year_HaftSeen_Table_SpreadApart from cleaning, preparing food particularly, the Haft-Seen (هفت سین, seven Ss) table spread for the night of Nowruz is a key component of the celebrations. Sadiqa describes her family’s Haft-Seen table as follows:

We prepare a special table in our homes, where we place small dishes holding seven symbolic foods and spices. The names of these foods all start with the letter ‘s’ (س) in Persian and so the table is called the ‘seven s’s’ (Haft-Seen). The dishes generally contain wheat or bean sprouts (sabzeh), vinegar (serke), apples (sib), garlic (sir), a wheat-based pudding called samanu, a red spice called sumac, and senjed, a kind of wild fruit which is common in the region. Other symbolic objects can include goldfish, painted eggs, candles and a mirror. The seven s’s symbolize life, love, health and prosperity.”

Alongside the delicacies on the Haft-Seen table, a variety of other dishes are prepared and enjoyed over the days of Nowruz celebrations. Leila Eftetahi, an Iranian Language Partner with NaTakallam, shares that her favorite dish to have on Nowruz is Sabzipolo ba Mahi (سبزی پلو با ماهی, herbed rice and fish). The Kurdish Language Partner (who would like to remain anonymous) shares that Mahshi is a popular dish enjoyed during Nowruz, mainly among Iraqi-Kurdish communities. Sadiqa tells us that her favourite Nowruz food item is Samanu (سمنو), “a sweet paste made entirely from germinated wheat, which is prepared especially for Nowruz in a large pot.”

Nowruz and the refugee/migrant experience(s)


Nowruz celebrations among communities affected by conflict and displacement have an added meaning today. It celebrates resilience – of nature and human beings. 

The aforementioned Iranian Language Partner shares “the usual family links and networks do not exist anymore for many exiles or immigrants…In spite of these and other obstacles, Iranians who live abroad try to observe Nowruz traditions and rituals.” These sentiments are echoed by Sadiqa, when she says: “living as refugees, not having access to basic rights and having very few facilities, people prepare a small table just to celebrate the Nowruz with their family. Something that hasn’t changed is the way and reason for celebrating Nowruz. People spread love and happiness as much as they can.’’ 

Nowruz_Persian_New_Year_Sizdah_BedarSharing happiness and keeping alive memories of “cozy fellowship” has been an important part of Marwan’s recent Nowruz celebrations. He reveals that he is looking forward to celebrating Nowruz with his small family “outdoors in a nearby playground and then, indoors  dining locally, listening to Kurdish songs in Kurdish-hyggelig ambiance.” Leila, similarly, shares that she has never forgotten the excitement of getting to pick the tablecloth for the Haft-Seen table as a child. She honors this memory by continuing to pick a tablecloth for the Haft-Seen table as a tradition even after being away from home for the last 7 years. 

Nowruz is a celebration of nature and new beginnings. Over the years, it has also come to commemorate human resilience and the quest for fellowship and happiness even in the face of adversity and displacement. 

Happy first day of Spring to our language partners, language learners, friends and supporters, and all those celebrating, Saal-e no mobarak (سال نو مبارک) , Newroza te pîroz be, Happy Nowruz! 

Fascinated by Nowruz? Learn more about Persian, Kurdish and Afghan cultures, traditions and languages with NaTakallam’s native tutors. Sign up here, today! 

Learn a language, make a friend, change a life. 


CREDITS
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.
Copyediting: 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.
Content support 1: Leila Eftetahi is an Iranian Language Partner with NaTakallam teaching Persian – Farsi dialect. She has degrees in Computer Science and International Tourism, and has been working as a Community Engagement Specialist. Leila enjoys performing, watching movies and reading in her free time.
Content support 2: Sadiqa Sultani is an Afghan Language Partner with NaTakallam teaching Persian – Dari dialect. She is an active volunteer at her local Refugee Learning Centre and in the refugee community. She loves sharing her culture and in her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and writing in her journal.
Content support 3: Sayed Nabi is an Afghan Language Partner with NaTakallam teaching Persian – Farsi and Dari dialects. He studied French language and literature and worked as an interpreter & translator with ISAF/NATO and AFRANE. He loves Persian poetry, is interested in cultural exchange, and eager to share his experiences with students.
Content support 4: Marwan Sheikho is Syrian Language Partner with NaTakallam specializing in Kurdish – Kurmanji dialect. He studied the development of Kurdish Kurmanji in Turkey and Syria for his Master’s degree in Germany. He enjoys learning languages, photography and preparing Kurdish language learning material for kids.
– And TWO OTHER content supporters who would like to remain anonymous.

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8 New Year’s Traditions Around The World

Reading Time: 6 minutesAs 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.

 

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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

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