The ‘Talking Arabic’ programme, which was established by the Israeli Students Association (ISA) and in conjunction with the Perach Project, is managed by Arab student volunteers who teach fellow students, and in return receive scholarships for teaching.
The curriculum is divided into different stages, ranging from basic studies of spoken Arabic to full-fledged discussions in Arabic on a variety of topics. As a part of their lessons, participants in the course also learn about Arab culture and society.
At Hebrew University’s medical faculty building in Jerusalem, the medical students have a different programme than in other universities, with lectures focusing on learning Arabic medical terms and diagnostics in order to be able to converse in Arabic with terms that they are more likely to use in their profession as doctors later on in life.
A teacher for “Talking Arabic” at Hebrew University explained that “both the students who do not speak Arabic and the students who teach have the same incentive for joining the project, they both want doctors in the future to be able to speak Arabic”.
Feedback from students who completed the course shows that the participants’ Arabic skills have significantly improved. Many of the students also stated that thanks to the project, they could now converse in Arabic directly with their patients who do not speak any other languages.
Projects like ‘Talking Arabic’ are very important if a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is to be reached as speaking the same language is a vital first step in the two parties living side by side in peace.
Israel has an Arab minority of 1.7 million – 20% of the population. Arabic is Israel’s official second language, with road signs in Hebrew and Arabic.