Frequently asked questions

About NaTakallam 


Q: What does “NaTakallam” mean?
A: NaTakallam means “We Speak” in Arabic. 
  
Q: When was NaTakallam founded?
A: In 2015.

Q: Who are the founders of NaTakallam?
A: NaTakallam was founded by Aline SaraReza Rahnema.
 
Q: What does NaTakallam do?
A: NaTakallam hires refugees, displaced people and their host communities as online tutors, teachers, and translators, providing them access to global income opportunities, regardless of their location and status. NaTakallam is an award-winning, social enterprise that delivers quality language-learning, translation & interpretation, and cultural exchange services, by vetted and highly skilled refugees and displaced persons worldwide.  

Q: Is NaTakallam a non-profit?
A: No, NaTakallam is a for-profit social enterprise.  We want to maximise our social impact. We also want to move away from the current humanitarian narrative which often results in silencing the refugee experience, which frames displaced persons as passive, suffering recipients of aid with no agency. Our work ethos is to challenge these assumptions and show that displaced persons are not burdens, but assets. Businesses at large have a role to play in being part of the solution to the refugee crisis. 
For-profits scale more – bigger, better, faster, and more efficiently. Startups are extremely impactful in the humanitarian sector because the company is driven by profit, so there is a different set of standards on how they are driven to grow and be efficient.
Traditional aid focuses on giving provisions in the form of food, shelter, and water. But there is a push towards cash donations, and startups have been critical in helping that take place.  In-kind donations in the form of rice or tents risk being wasted or resold, whereas cash is more efficient, empowering and also positive for the local economy given that recipients will spend money locally, in host countries. Finally, we are humanitarian at the core of operations – every decision we make focuses on maximizing impact, not profit.  

Q: Where does NaTakallam operate?
A: The NaTakallam team is all over the world! Our official headquarters are in New York, but we also have an official chapter in Paris. Our team works out of New York, California, Paris, Beirut and Cairo. On the user side, we have worked with 9,000+ users in 100+ countries around the world. Our conversation partners are based in 25 different countries. 

Q: What are the channels available for classes (e.g. Skype video, own platform, in person, call)? If through own platform, please describe the functionalities available (e.g. shared screen, live writing)
A: Sessions are typically held online, via skype, zoom, or other video conference options–as agreed upon by the student and their language partner. In Lebanon, we offer in-person sessions. 
*While NaTakallam offered in-person sessions  in Beirut, Lebanon, Covid-19 compounded with the profound socio-economic crisis through which the country is currently going, has rendered this option on hold 

Q: Is NaTakallam appropriate for children?
A: Absolutely. In addition to our K-12 programs, aimed at schools around the world, we have many conversation partners who have been trained to work with kids. We currently have users as young as 7 years old! 
 

About NaTakallam’s Tutors* & Translators

*NaTakallam’s language tutors are referred to as Conversation Partners (CPs) or language partners.
 
Q: What qualifications do the Conversation Partners have?
A: Some of our conversation partners are qualified teachers, while others have had tutoring/teaching experience. All have been thoroughly tested by NaTakallam and have been teaching for several months, if not years. For those teaching the Integrated Arabic Curriculum, they have undergone training with Dr. Munther Younes and his colleagues
 
Q: How do you find displaced persons/refugees who are right for the job? How do you recruit and hire conversation partners?
A: We recruit refugees and displaced persons, by partnering with NGOs on the ground but we also recruit those who venture out to apply to work for us individually as well. 
NaTakallam works like any other job. You apply, provide your CV, two references, and we then invite our candidates for an interview. We vet them, and provide all our candidates with training on how to use the platform and to deliver language teaching/conversation practice to their students.
Those onboarded by NaTakallam, are vetted and trained by our in-house Community Talent & Performance Manager who uses the existing skill set of our conversation partners and language instructors to accordingly match them with a learner based on needs, interests and professional backgrounds. 

Q: Where are NaTakallam Conversation Partners (CPs) from?
A: NaTakallam works with a very diverse group of conversation partners and translators around the world. While initially born to support Syrians teaching Arabic in 2015, NaTakallam one-on-one language sessions are now also offered in a variety of Arabic dialects spoken by CPs from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Egypt; French (with refugees from Congo DRC, Burundi, Guinea), Spanish (with Venezuelans and Central Americans),Persian (with Iranians and Afghans), Armenian (Western & Eastern) & English.
 
Q: How much do CPs get paid?
A: NaTakallam was born in Lebanon, to support Syrian refugees, who have no right to work, by leveraging the digital economy and their language skills to give them an alternate path to an income, to not lose hope entirely, and to restore a shred of dignity to a people that have lost so much. While Europe speaks of having a refugee crisis, more than 80% of refugees are in developing countries, and Lebanon has the highest density of refugees worldwide, and so our goal was to focus on supporting refugees who are in these countries. When we launched, refugees outside of Lebanon started reaching. We in fact now work with Syrians and other nationalities of refugees worldwide, including countries in Europe. 
Our pricing of $25/hour, which goes down to $16 USD/hour when you purchase a bundle of 10 hour sessions, is split as follows:
$10, regardless of the package, goes straight to our CPs. The rest goes to cover operations, transfer fees, and all the work put into building a platform, trainings, communications etc.
Refugees who write to us from Europe are choosing to work with NaTakallam, despite the hourly $10 rate. It is worth noting that we ideally prioritize refugees who aren’t resettled to Europe, but when people, who demonstrate incredible talent and also interest in NaTakallam, do come our way, we do onboard them.

Programs & Offerings

Language Offerings
NaTakallam offers two main options: our more flexible Language Sessions and our Integrated Arabic Curriculum which blends formal and colloquial Arabic. 

Conversation Sessions
We  offer conversation sessions in Arabic (with Syrian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Palestinian, Egyptian, Yemeni & Sudanese displaced persons), Kurdish (Kurmanji), French (with refugees from Congo DRC, Burundi, Guinea), Persian (with Iranians and Afghans), Spanish (with Venezuelans and Central Americans), Armenian (Eastern & Western) and English. You can sign up for language sessions here and purchase your preferred bundle of hours on the respective language pages.
 
Q: What is the cost breakdown for your conversation sessions?
A:  $25/hour if you purchase 1 hour
     $19/hour if you purchase 5 hours
     $16/hour if you purchase 10 hours
 
Integrated Arabic Curriculum
Based on the textbook ‘Arabiyyat al-Naas’, the Integrated Curriculum differs from other Arabic language programs by integrating colloquial Arabic with Modern Standard Arabic (MSA or “Fusha”) in a way that reflects the use of the language by native speakers. Both beginners and advanced learners can partake in the curriculum. We currently offer the Levantine dialect along with the Modern Standard Arabic component of the curriculum.
You can sign up for the Integrated Arabic Curriculum here and purchase the 25-hour bundles at a cost of $750 which comes to $30/hour.
For more information on the Integrated Arabic Curriculum, contact us at [email protected] 
 
Q: How are the conversation sessions different from the Integrated Arabic Curriculum?
A: The conversation sessions, though also available for Modern Standard Arabic, are mostly for those with an existing background in Arabic and tend to be more focused on dialect/conversation. Our main offering in dialects include Levantine Arabic (Palestinian and Syrian mostly), as well as Egyptian, Iraqi, Sudanese and Yemeni Arabic.
The full details of the curriculum option can be mapped against international criteria. For conversation sessions, the curriculum is agreed upon between the student and their tutor and is fully flexible. Given it is mostly 1:1, sessions are tailored to the student’s needs/level/desired pace.
For the Integrated Arabic Curriculum, NaTakallam instructors use the book ‘Arabiyyat al Naas’. For all other sessions, instructors use their own materials and/or content requested by students.
 
Q: What other services does NaTakallam offer?
A: Please read more on our other services below.
 

Translation & Interpretation Services

NaTakallam provides translation, interpretation and transcription services delivered by refugees and displaced persons. We provide professional translation services in 11+ languages including Arabic, French, Kurdish, Pashto, Persian (Farsi/Dari), Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili, Tigrinya, Urdu – and more.
Cost rates depend on difficulty and turnaround time. For document translation, rates range between $0.15-$0.22 cents per word. For audio transcription, rates depend on audio length, voice clarity and language(s). For interpretation, rates depend on content, location and type of interpretation. Price is always agreed upon per written agreement between the client and NaTakallam. To get started or learn more, email [email protected]
 

K-12 & University Programs

NaTakallam partners with universities and schools interested in bringing NaTakallam to bring real-life conversations, language learning and cultural exchange to the classroom. 
Over 2,000 students at 200+ schools & universities have used NaTakallam’s programs for powerful, empathy-building sessions that foster global citizenship. All of NaTakallam’s services for academic institutions are centered around providing affordable and enriching opportunities that complement existing coursework.  Programs can focus on language learning (Arabic, Persian, Spanish, French) and/or global issues and can be integrated into existing courses or purchased for individual student use. Contact us at [email protected] or at [email protected] for more information.
 

Refugee Voices 

NaTakallam’s interactive guest speaker sessions offer enriching conversations that equip participants with a more nuanced global awareness and an ability to encounter a diverse range of ‘others’ with empathy. NaTakallam leverages accessible technology and the digital economy to empower refugees. Each ‘refugee voices’ session contributes directly to refugee livelihoods, at a time when they might be cut off from the local labor market, in camps, or in other transit circumstances. 
NaTakallam’s virtual sessions can be tailored according to your team’s interests, as well as corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion, and staff development objectives. Discounts available for educational and nonprofit partners. For multiple sessions and bespoke package options, email [email protected] or sign up here.
Have any further questions? Email us at [email protected]
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Black Friday with impact! Grab 20% OFF our Language Sessions, Integrated Arabic Curriculum (up to $150 off!), and Gift of Conversation. For a limited time!
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