Do you understand Arabic? This can be quite an embarrassing question for those expatriates who find it difficult to speak basic Arabic in spite of spending most of their life in the Kingdom. Many grow up in an environment that does not require them to learn the language, but gradually face difficulties in communicating with native Arabic speakers.
“I was born and raised in Jeddah but still can’t have a conversation in Arabic!” said Madiha Aziz. “I never felt the need to learn Arabic until I started work and that is when I realized just how important it is to know the native language of this country I’ve been living in,” she explained.
Understanding their need to learn this beautiful language, 39-year-old Hadeel Abbasi, a Saudi author, founded “I Can Talk Arabic” (ICTA), an institute that makes learning Arabic easy and entertaining.
“Our goal is not just having a center that teaches Arabic but a place where people feel welcomed while learning with individuals from all over the world who share the same interests,” said Abbasi. “We take care of our students holistically by making sure that they have a wonderful time living in our country.”
ICTA offers both advanced and beginners’ level classes where reading, writing and speaking Arabic is taught. For convenience, classes are offered both in morning and evening. There are also special courses for those who just want a taste of the Arab culture, such as Arabic calligraphy and Arab yoga.
In addition to the traditional classroom approach of teaching Arabic, Abbasi uses other fun methods such as organizing Arabic skits for students as well as the natural approach where Arabic is carefully infused in their conversations. What’s really amazing about Abbasi’s institute is that all the Arabic instructors work as volunteers who want to serve their language.
She explained that they are all Saudi women who are eager to teach Arabic to those who wish to learn it.
As a part of ICTA activities, last year Abbasi launched a campaign called “Kallimni Arabi” (talk to me in Arabic), which encouraged students to communicate in Arabic with foreigners and also among themselves. The campaign was a huge success and witnessed enthusiastic participation.
Last month, Abbasi launched another campaign titled “A’arif aakhut” (I know how to write), which mainly focused on Arabic calligraphy.
As part of this campaign, ICTA also celebrated the World Arabic Language Day in Red Sea Mall to give a taste of Arabic to a wider audience.