Wednesday 05 February 2020


Schools from across Northern Ireland were given a taste of Arab language and culture at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast today (Wednesday, February 5).

140 pupils were taking part in Schools Think Arabic, an event organised by British Council Northern Ireland in partnership with Arts Ekta and Yallaa Belfast.

Across the day, they took part in a number of interactive workshops, including sampling traditional Arabic dishes, trying their hand at henna; designing mosaics and learning the art of calligraphy. They were also treated to a live traditional Arabic dance and ancient Arab storytelling.

Speaking at the event, Aisleain Reynolds, an ESL teacher at Blackwater Integrated College, said: “We got involved in today’s event as we are an integrated school in Downpatrick and have a number of students from different areas – from Syria, Romania, Latvia - right across the board - and we just thought it would be nice as our two Syrian students wanted to show their culture to their classmates.

“Nour, who only arrived here from Syria last year, really loves to share his heritage and is planning to teach his classmates some Arabic in the near future. His peers are really open to learning and have loved taking part today and discovering more about him and a different way of the life.”

The event was also a chance to showcase to teachers the many free resources and opportunities available through the British Council around Arabic – including school partnerships, free classrooms resources, (such as their Learning About the Arab World Education Pack) and grants through their Arabic Language and Culture Programme.

Speaking at the event, Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland said: 

“Today’s event was about helping raise young people’s interest and curiosity in the rich diversity of Arabic culture and language in many counties across the world. Not only does it help build a deeper mutual understanding between our communities, but it encourages the students to develop the necessary intercultural skills to live, work and positively engage in a global economy.

 “Our recent Language Trends Northern Ireland report showed that primary and post primary schools in Northern Ireland are now offering more diverse languages such as Arabic and as its social, political and commercial importance increases, demand to learn Arabic is set to grow.”

“Through working with our partners locally and internationally, the British Council is helping to support this growing interest in learning more about Arabic language and culture and have a range of resources available to support our local schools.”

The Schools Think Arabic event was also supported by the Qatar Foundation International and the El Bayet Centre, London, who provided some of the learning resources.

For Northern Ireland schools interested in bringing Arab language and Culture into the classroom – more details around the British Council Arabic Language and Culture Programme, can be found here:

British Council Northern Ireland creates a number of international opportunities  around China for Schools. For more information visit or follow on Twitter:

Notes to Editor

For further information please contact: 

Claire McAuley, Communications Manager: T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504 Twitter: @BCouncil_NI, Facebook – 

 Schools involved in today’s event:

  • Killowen Primary School, Rostrevor
  • Clintyclay Primary School, Armagh
  • Forge Integrated Primary School, Belfast
  • St. Kieran’s Primary School, Poleglass
  • Blessed Trinity College, Belfast
  • Dundonald High School
  • Blackwater Integrated College, Downpatrick
  • St. Benedict’s College, Randalstown


About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.  For more information, please visit: