An online language service taught entirely by refugees is helping people from all over the world pick up a new skill – especially useful during COVID-19 lockdowns – while teachers earn a living where they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
There are 64 language teachers at NaTakallam – Arabic for “we speak” – who each conduct their lessons online from wherever they live. Students who may have never had contact with refugees are now learning from them, while refugees facing restrictions on work have found a way to legally make money.
“I really see it as solving two problems,” says one of NaTakallam’s founders, Aline Sara. “Refugees need access to an income, but with no work permit they’re often stuck in limbo. Yet they have innate talents within them in the form of their language, their story and culture, while so many people want flexible language practice.”
Due to the coronavirus lockdowns, the online language service has seen a 106% uptick in enrollment in March, and a 185% increase in April, in comparison to the same time last year. “One of our Venezuelan tutors told me she’s all alone in confinement, and that her NaTakallam students are the only people she talks to and connects with,” adds Sara. “So this makes the classes precious from the human exchange side, not just income.”