Learning Arabic Language in Palestine : One of the main advantages of volunteering at the Excellence Center in Hebron, Palestine, is the opportunity to not only study Arabic with experienced local professional teachers, but to immerse yourself in Palestinian life in Hebron. At the Excellence Center, Arabic classes are provided not only to volunteers who are teaching English, but to anyone who has an interest in learning Arabic. And to be able to do so amidst such a hospitable community not only enhances the experience, but provides those that take up the challenge to learn Arabic, a means to speak it every day with people who are only too happy to help their international guests. To put it another way, learning Arabic language in Palestine at the Excellence Centre is a completely immersive experience – one that extends from the classroom and into the community in Hebron.
Through the Excellence Centre, Arabic is taught either as part of a volunteer package where volunteers are given a three hour course each week, or as a stand-alone program where internationals can participate daily in one on one classes. All teachers at the Excellence Center are professionally trained, with each one having completed language teaching training. Complimenting this professional foundation, teachers at the Excellence Center also bring with them their Palestinian hospitality and a dedication to ensuring their students practice their language skills in the real world – teachers and students regularly attend restaurants and cafes were students are encouraged to try out their Arabic speaking skills. As well as this professional foundation in the class room, volunteers are provided with accommodation, either with a host family or at an apartment nearby that is owned by the Center, a benefit that ensures the international guest remains immersed in the community and provided with every opportunity to practice their Arabic.
Of course, Arabic, like most languages, has many dialects depending on what part of the Arab world it is spoken. At the Excellence Centre, standard and colloquial Arabic is taught and participants are given a choice as to which dialect they learn, or the flexibility to learn both. This flexibility ensures that international guests are able to learn the style of Arabic best suited to their needs, whether that be a more professional need for work, or a more general desire to interact within the community. In fact, learning Palestinian Arabic provides students with the opportunity to not only converse in Palestine, but also in neighbouring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon.
For Jakob, a student of the Excellence Center from Sweden, it was the flexibility of the Excellence Center Learning Arabic Language in Palestine program and the opportunity to immerse in Palestinian life that have been some of the highlights of his stay in Hebron so far. These were particularly important to Jakob as, having just completed a Masters degree in Politics, he wanted to compliment his academic research with real world experience. Having found the Excellence Center on google, Jakob was particularly happy with the one on one classes and the opportunity to learn both modern standard and colloquial Arabic, and then the opportunity to practice his new language skills in Hebron. As he said, while many other parts of Palestine, such as Ramallah, have many English speakers, in Hebron, one has to use Arabic to get by.
Jana, a volunteer teaching English from Germany who is also studying colloquial Palestinian Arabic, has also had a very positive experience at the Excellence Center. For her, one of the main highlights has been the opportunity to see a side of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that is often hidden from Western audiences. This exposure has contributed to her studies at university in Middle Eastern and Political Studies, and like Jakob, Jana says the staff at the Excellence Center have been extremely friendly, helpful and welcoming.
Overall, the Excellence Center offers a flexible and immersive Learning Arabic Language course in Palestine program to learn Arabic and participate in Palestinian life. With its trained teachers and many cultural activities on offer, international guests are given a real taste of Palestinian life, and the language skills to make the experience that much more richer.