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Want to give your students a unique language learning experience, while giving displaced people an opportunity to work?

NaTakallam connects displaced people — including refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, and beyond — with students around the world, to provide affordable, flexible and tailored language practice, intercultural exchange, and experiential learning opportunities over the internet.

HundrED 2022


HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2022

HundrED 2021

HundrED 2020

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HundrED 2018

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September 2017
I do think people getting to know another language is a window into the world ... the dynamic of one to one interaction is important, it's about cultural and refugee awareness and intercultural understanding .

About the innovation

What is NaTakallam?

NaTakallam ("we speak" in Arabic) is a social enterprise that connects refugees with remote income-earning opportunities related to language and cultural exchange, providing them with economic empowerment, purpose, and re-gained dignity. Over 8,000 people have engaged in more than 30,000+ hours of NaTakallam sessions, and refugees and displaced persons have self-generated over $800,000 through their individual language tutoring, guest speaking, translation and classroom work. NaTakallam has also partnered with over two hundred schools and universities worldwide.

While the COVID-19 pandemic made most of the world draw to a halt, NaTakallam increased its impact on refugees, who saw their income increase by 30% in light of a surge in online education’s appeal to those under lockdown. Since 2015, NaTakallam has understood the power and potential of a laptop with a good internet connection. Thanks to its fully virtual model, due to the effects of the pandemic on in-person schooling at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, NaTakallam's education programs expanded its virtual offerings to offer not only virtual classroom sessions but also one-on-one and small group virtual options for children and young students.

According to the UNHCR, there are more than 79 million people today who have been forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict. Some of these people have been displaced within their own countries and others have been forced to flee into other countries. Many hope to be able to return home as soon as possible, but the average length of displacement is between 20 and 30 years and some will never return to their country of origin. Despite the challenges, millions of refugees and displaced people work hard to overcome struggles, preserve their culture and identity, and rebuild their lives, often in new places.

Worldwide, there is a need to better understand the refugee crises and to encourage young people worldwide to get involved and support refugees. For the displaced people, their situation can be compounded by restrictions on their right to work, leaving them unable to earn a living. Refugees and asylum seekers can also be subject to unhelpful stereotyping and misrepresentation due to a lack of understanding of the refugee situation or cultural differences.

NaTakallam was born in 2015 with Arabic conversation partners from Syria. Our main offering in language dialects include Levantine Arabic (Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese), as well as Egyptian, Iraqi, Yemeni and Sudanese Arabic. Beyond Arabic, we offer French (with refugees from Congo DRC, Burundi, Guinea), Persian (with Iranians and Afghans) and Spanish (with Venezuelans and Central Americans). Additionally, we provide translation services in up to 10+ languages. .

NaTakallam has programs for individual adults language learners, as well as for universities and school partners. School sessions can also be held in English and can be used to teach global citizenship and increase intercultural understanding. For example, one school in Hong Kong used NaTakallam to support their learning about migration. 4th graders were able to talk to displaced people via Skype and hear their stories directly, bringing the issue of forced migration to life and helping the student to contextualize and understand the issue more deeply. This type of learning can also be an opportunity to explore empathy and promote responsible global citizenship. NaTakallam works closely with teachers and instructors at all levels to ensure that the school’s needs are met, by assigning refugee conversation partners to the school based on the saliency of their stories to the specific subject matter and context

We currently offer online language learning, cultural exchange sessions and translation services. Our scalability focuses on two aspects: partnerships and diversification. Ongoing and new partnerships with academic institutions can increase prospects for international growth. Additionally, NaTakallam is working to diversity the range of services offered and add more languages in the future to engage more refugees. The technology we use is widespread, allowing NaTakallam the potential to scale up indefinitely.

In 2016, NaTakallam was winner of the World Bank Youth Summit ‘Rethinking education for the new millennium’ award and this year, it was selected a top 5 idea among 650+ submissions in the Bridgebuilder Challenge, a collaboration between GHR Foundation and OpenIDEO that recognizes development solutions through open innovation at the intersection of peace, prosperity and the planet.

To date, 160 displaced persons have self-generated over $850,000 through 30,000+ hours of NaTakallam conversation sessions with 8,000+ users in 90+ countries.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

Natakallam provides language learning with a focus on authenticity by having displaced Syrian or Iraqi people facilitating online language lessons and intercultural exchange. They positively impact all stakeholders involved and have increased their span and impact every year.

HundrED Academy Reviews

Beautiful concept and approach, it is more important than ever in the current world scenario for people to be more open and sensitive to other cultures!. I am deeply moved by the opportunities this program provides to displaced individuals around the world while also imparting great knowledge!

This hits so many education and societal goals for me. There's no point in learning a language unless there is some authentic understanding of the history and context. This hits the spot perfectly.

- Academy member
Academy review results
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Implementation steps

Sign up online
Tell NaTakallam where you are located, about your class and students, and what your language or cultural exchange goals are.

NaTakallam will work with the teacher to meet their language goals or curriculum and match them with an appropriate Conversation Partner.NaTakallambuilds strongrelationships with therefugee Conversation Partners and understandstheir skill set, as well as their personal story. Each Conversation Partner is carefully selected to ensure that they are a best fit for the class or student.

For example, one 4th grade class in Hong Kong approached NaTakallam because they were learning about migration. NaTakallam selected a conversation partner who is Palestinian Syrian and was a twice displaced person now living in Brazil, as they could provide profound insight into the life of a refugee. Other students may be more focused purely on the language learning aspect and this will be considered when matching a Conversation Partner.

Get introduced to your Conversation Partner!
You'll meet your Conversation Partner online via skype or a similar channel. This is your chance to get to know a bit about them and to discuss and plan how you'd like to structure your sessions together.

Go online and begin your conversation session!
Make sure you have access to wifi, a quiet space, a laptop and possibly a screen and projector so the whole class can get involved!

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