In a global setting where political leaders are talking about building walls, NaTakallam is building bridges.

Aline addresses the startup mindset's role within the refugee crisis at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2018.

In the summer of 2014 Aline Sara had just completed her masters in International Affairs at Columbia University and was looking for an affordable way to practice her Arabic—specifically, her native Lebanese regional dialect—from New York City. It was also at that time that Syrians, fleeing the violence from the brutal civil war, were pouring into Lebanon, where today, roughly 1 out of 4 people are Syrian.

Like most Syrians outside of the country, and notably the 5 million-plus who are living in neighboring countries, Syrians in Lebanon cannot easily get work permits, making their capacity to work and sustain a livelihood incredibly difficult. The same daily struggle with varying legal realities holds true for Venezuelans living in Argentina, people from Burundi living in Europe or the Middle East, or Yemenis displaced inside their own country, and millions of other displaced people in the world.

Aline thought of connecting her need to access conversational Arabic to that of displaced Syrians to access an income. She was joined by her former classmate, Reza Rahnema, himself, French-born, to Iranian parents, and with a background in economic and political development, and thus came to life the idea of NaTakallam, pioneering the concept of leveraging the digital economy and refugees’ language skills to provide language services to users worldwide, who, through their engagement, help support displaced persons’ livelihoods.

Thanks to our talented pool of conversation partners, we offer language sessions in French, Persian and Spanish, besides Arabic in multiple dialects.

NaTakallam Founder Aline Sara at the World Bank MENA competition for women entrepreneurs

Who We Are

Our founding team is made of individuals with extensive experience in economic and political development, conflict resolution, human rights, humanitarian affairs, language learning and journalism.

The Why

The best way to learn a language is to immerse oneself in its environment.

NaTakallam (“we speak” in Arabic) pairs displaced persons with learners around the world for language practice over Skype. The platform offers affordable, flexible, tailored language practice with native speakers for language learners while also providing a valuable income source to displaced people in Lebanon, Argentina, Turkey, Yemen, Iraq, Burundi, Egypt, France, Brazil, Italy and Germany, plus other countries not listed here.

Along the way, users and conversation partners engage in a powerful intercultural exchange, frequently developing boundary-breaking friendships between worlds that are often polarized or cut-off in the media and political spheres.

Partners & Supporters