New Approaches, New Results

Students share reasons for learning English with their teacher.

Students participate in class by sharing their language learning goals with the teacher.

As we finish up the STEP II program, and students reflect on what they have learned and their experiences in the classroom, the teachers also must consider their teaching styles and foci. Yesterday, as I was interviewing a young man, he told me that he doesn’t like grammar—for him, the most important thing is that he understands people and they understand him. With that as his benchmark, he has undoubtedly succeeded in his English education. While his sentences are not grammatically sound, he is articulate and can confidently make himself understood. But if asked, he probably could not articulate the difference between countable and uncountable nouns, or the nuances of verb tenses. On the other hand, when I asked my class what they would like to do at the end of English class, I was asked about the perfect tense and the passive voice—things many native speakers struggle to understand and use correctly.  

In some ways, this reflects how each student will put the English language to use. For students whose career depends on reading and writing in English, it is important to know the nuances of English grammar and the written language as it will be necessary for their studies and certification. One of my extremely dedicated students is studying for a certification in dentistry, but the exam which tests professional competency and knowledge is conducted entirely in English.  Even with a perfect knowledge of dentistry, it would be impossible to pass this exam without a strong proficiency in English. For this student, it is vital to read, write, and understand complex, scientific structures in English. But for my students who want to open their own business, or work as a tour guide, comfortable communication in English is much more important than the specifics of verb tenses and clauses.

There are a number of foreign language learning strategies, and most fall on a scale between these two opposites—functional, survival comprehension, and grammatical understanding and construction. While in the past language classes have been heavy on grammar and translation as comprehension, contemporary experts prefer an interactive and integrated methodology. Even with the preference to use new methodology, it is found that emphasis on reading and translating passages, conjugation of verbs, and explanation and memorization of grammatical rules still are observed in foreign language classrooms today.” So, even though we know that these strategies aren’t necessarily the most useful for fluency, we do still consider the content important. After all, it’s jarring to hear someone say “He like go for sandwich,” even if the word order is correct and the idea is clearly conveyed.

The use of movement and physical participation are important elements of the EFL classroom at TYO.

The use of movement and physical participation help students to learn English in a new way.

At TYO, the exact methodology and style of instruction is left up to the teachers—some focus primarily on interaction, games, and comfort with the language, while others prefer a more structure-oriented approach. At the same time, choosing to use games and interactive methods does not by any means preclude learning grammar—in fact, the interaction and integrated nature of learning, or the direct method, has been shown to be much more successful. Here, the “primary goals are for students to think and speak the language; thus, no use of the native language is allowed. Teachers employ objects, visuals, and realia to make the input comprehensible.”

With teachers who often don’t speak or even understand Arabic, TYO’s EFL work must rely on the direct method. The emphasis is on context and understanding, rather than content. This is not to say that we don’t have direct grammar instruction, but students might practice grammar constructions with a team relay more often than they write a worksheet. My class wanted written and spoken fluency, more than they wanted to read complex texts, so we focused on building confidence and functional usage. At the same time, there is space for students who need to understand the complexities of the English language to ask questions and push themselves as far as they are able. This approach leaves the class very open and self-directed in many ways. The students learn basics collectively, but are able to drive their own learning with assistance from the teacher.


The English as a Foreign Language (EFL) program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.


Phoebe, EFL Fellow, Spring 2016

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Humans of Nablus 15


Wide closeup

I came to TYO to improve myself and the lives of other people around me. It is a wonderful experience for me being here and I enjoy the service I am providing for others. In the future I would love to have my own organization to provide more services for the children and women that are in need. I want to open a school for the students that are always in the streets. They should be taught life experiences just like TYO does presently. It is my goal to take children off the streets and to educate them. Knowledge is power.

لقد أتيت الى منظمة شباب الغد  لتطوير نفسي وتطوير حياة الاخرين من حولي. كانت تجربة رائعه بالنسبة الي لانني استمتع بالخدمات التي اقدمها للاخرين. في المستقبل اتمنى ان امتلك مؤسستي الخاصة من اجل تقديم خدمات اخرى للاطفال والنساء ممن هم بحاجة لهذه الخدمات . أريد ان افتح مدرسة للطلاب الذين يجوبون الشوارع. عليهم ان يتعلموا تجارب الحياة تماما كما تفعل منظمة شباب الغد حاليا. هدفي هو اخذ جميع الاطفال من الشوارع وتعليمهم. فالمعرفة قوة


The Youth Service Learning (YSL) program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

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Breaking a Sweat, Breaking Isolation


Last week, the The Women’s Group’s Spring 2016 session came to a close. The Women’s Group is a program for women residing in refugee camps and disadvantaged neighborhoods in Nablus with a focus on the mothers of children in TYO’s Core Child Program. This session, TYO has been proud to offer fitness and nutrition classes taught by our Spring 2016 Zahi Khouri Fellow, Beginner’s English classes, and educational seminars that focus on mental health, physical well-being, and child-rearing. Our Spring 2016 session culminated with a trip to a local park in Nablus where 60 Women’s Group participants gathered together to eat delicious food, reminisce about the last two months of programming, and make plans to socialize in the future.

Fatimeh, Aya, Huda, and Mariam enjoy The Women's Group end of session trip.

Fatima, Aya, Huda, and Mariam enjoy The Women’s Group end of session trip.

TYO beneficiary, Sabah, describes how TYO helps her connect with others and feel less lonely:

“I love TYO and programming it offers women. I love learning English, exercising and taking nutrition classes with my friends, and building community with women from other camps I would otherwise never meet. Sometimes I feel isolated at home and being able to come to TYO, break my routine, and spend time with a big group of women feels so good.”

An April 2016 study found that loneliness and social isolation have been linked to a 30% increase in the risk of having a stroke or coronary artery disease and that social interaction plays a critical role in an individual’s health and wellbeing. The Women’s Group

​participants gain many skills from the programming they are offered but they
​also have the opportunity to break the isolation many of them experience and build relationships with people they would otherwise never meet. TYO looks forward to continuing to offer programming to the Nablus community so our beneficiaries can continue to form bonds that will benefit their health and last a lifetime!

Vanessa, Women’s Empowerment Program Coordinator




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Behind the Scenes


Teachers often look for ways to teach language acquisition in a way that encourages learners to use language creatively and spontaneously.  They ask themselves how can I make this task meaningful and therefore memorable?   How can I design lessons that help students process language more naturally?   The standard teaching style of Presentation, Practice, and Production, or PPP, falls shorts.   Many students are able to meet the task objectives for the lesson and then forget the structure post lesson use.  This results in students continuing to make the same mistakes they were making before the lesson.   

One alternative approach to PPP is known as Task Based Language Teaching or TBLT.  TBLT primarily focuses on the task and language learning becomes the instrument to complete the task.   These activities usually reflect real life and learners focus on meaning.  They are free to use the language how they see fit.  Teachers act as facilitators and interject to offer well-planned corrective feedback or useful phrases.  Forms of TBLT include playing games, solving problems, and sharing information or experiences.   

Students of the Intermediate/Advanced class work together on a project.

Students of the Intermediate/Advanced class work together on a project.

In the TYO STEP II EFL program, students discover and work with English in the form of games, riddles, projects and sharing experiences.   TBLT can be seen at all levels.   At the intermediate/advanced level, students are currently working on a yearbook.  This is a complicated task where students not only are using their English language skills to complete the tasks at hand but they are challenged to work with each other in their different committees to compromise, find solutions and make decisions.  Compromise, solutions finding, and decision making are highly complex language skills and are difficult to teach authentically with PPP.  A task such as creating a yearbook is something students invest in personally. In the end, they see their success met in a tangible outcome. Students are using their creativity in both the language and in the task itself to create something memorable and meaningful with their language skills. If memory is attached to meaningful experiences, tasks are an experiential way for students to retain new learning objectives.

Outside of the classroom, learners are not given a dialog to read when communicating.  There is no phrase to memorize that will express some of the intricacies needed to be understood properly.  Language is a highly creative art form.  Practicing TBLT in the classroom brings the outside authentic world into the classroom helping to further communication and ultimately teaches crucial problems solving skills in a safe environment.  This gives students the confidence to use a second language for its ultimate purpose, using a language outside of the classroom.


The English as a Foreign Language (EFL) program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

Lyndsey, EFL Fellow, Spring 2016

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Humans of Nablus 14



I was born in Saudi Arabia, but my family is originally from Nablus. My brother and sister and I all grew up hearing stories of Nablus, and so we missed it even before we lived here. They would talk about our family, how when they were growing up, you would spend so much time together. They talked about the look and feel of the city. The beautiful buildings, walking in the open streets. They used to be much more open, but sadly that is different now. Nablus has always been very dear to me.

ولدت بالمملكة العربية السعودية ولكن عائلتي اصلا من مدينة نابلس. ترعرعت انا واخوتي ونحن نسمع القصص عن نابلس ولذا تولد لدينا الشعور بالاشتياق اليها من بعيد. لقد كانوا يتحدثون عن العائلة هناك وايام الصبا التي قضوها معا . تحدثوا عن مظاهر المدينة ومشاعرها , عن المباني والسير بشوارعها المفتوحه التي لم تعد كذلك اليوم فالامر مختلف الان بكل اسف. نابلس
 كانت ولا زالت عزيزة جدا على قلبي.


Tamam is a participant in the STEP! II EFL program. The STEP! II EFL program is part of the youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

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There is Music in the Air! There is Learning Everywhere!


Be it the “A,B,Cs” in English or the alphabet song in Arabic, music is incorporated into the classroom from an early age. At Tomorrow’s Youth Organization (TYO), music is included in almost every class from the morning until the afternoon. In fact, if you are at TYO at 2:30 pm, you may hear students singing to the Cha-Cha Slide outside! Why is music included in the TYO curriculum? Does it really have a meaningful impact on the level of learning in classrooms around the world? Research continues to show that music plays a key role in helping students reach their educational goals.

On the most basic level, music influences the atmosphere of a classroom. For example, a happy song can create a positive learning atmosphere and encourage students to participate in activities with their classmates. Frances H. Rauscher, a researcher on the impact of music on the educational process of high risk children states, “Learning music is an important developmental activity that may help at-risk children compete academically on a more equal basis with their peers.” Creating a learning environment in which all students feel safe and equal is essential for bonding between classmates, which in turn creates a healthy learning space and supports learning.

Students listen carefully to music while using English words to describe the images the music helps them imagine.

Students listen to music as part of their English studies during a STEP! II EFL class.

On a deeper level, music influences a student’s cognitive workings. A report from the John Hopkins School of Education explains music helps to improve students’ memory and imagination, as well as changes brain wave states, which directly affects a person’s focus. Baroque music, such as Bach, is 50 to 80 beats per minute. This intense pace “creates an atmosphere of focus that leads students into deep concentration in the alpha brainwave state.” The more concentrated a student is, the better they retain information.

For all of the positive impacts of music in a standard classroom, the benefits can be multiplied ten-fold in a foreign language class. Learning languages through music allows students to practice listening and speaking skills simultaneously as they listen to songs and sing along with them.  Furthermore, when information is put to rhythm and rhyme it makes it easier to recall.

Additionally, “Music is a great way to learn the intonation of a language and train your facial muscles as you sing along,” says language learner and CEO of Spotnight, David Bailey.  

Studying lyrics is a great way to gain new vocabulary and examine cultural concepts.

Studying lyrics is a great way to gain new vocabulary and examine cultural concepts.

At TYO, music is used in all of the STEP! II English Foreign Language courses. “For my class, music becomes an easier way for the students to familiarize themselves with certain concepts,” said Moh Mousa, an EFL Fellow at TYO. Because the students “already feel comfortable and like music,” they are more open to tackling difficult grammar topics and becoming immersed in the language. As an added bonus, using music to learn a foreign language makes the learning process entertaining rather than daunting!

Overall, music is a vital part of our world and human existence that transcends cultural boundaries.  As it becomes incorporated more and more into classrooms, especially language-learning courses, the benefits of music will not only be seen — they will be heard.


The English as a Foreign Language (EFL) program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

Kyra, EFL Felllow, Spring 2016

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Humans of Nablus 13



I want to learn new words about countries because I want to write about my country. I want to be successful because my country needs people who are successful. We need people who know the truth and say it without fear, who are faithful and will do anything for their country. We are visitors in this life and all people are the same. We are all created free people, so why do we make differences between groups? Not just in my country, but around the world.

اريد ان اتعلم كلمات جديدة عن البلدان لانني اريد الكتابة عن بلدي ,اريد ان اكون ناجحة لان بلدي تحتاج لاناس ناجحين , نريد اناس يعرفون الحقيقة ويقولونها بدون خوف , يكونون مخلصين ويعملون اي شيء لبلدهم.
نحن زوار على هذه الحياة, وجميع الناس متساويين فنحن جميعا خلقنا احرارا لذا لم نقوم بعمل الفرةقات بين المجموعات ؟ لا اتحدث فقط عن بلدي وانما في جميع العالم

The English as a Foreign Language (EFL) program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

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Amal Hamad: A Commitment to Consistent Growth


Amal Hamad is from Einabous village near Nablus. She is studying family development at Al-Quds Open University. She has a great deal of experience volunteering with local and international organizations including the Red Crescent and Medical Relief. Mostly recently, she has been volunteering at Medeed Center for Mental Health and World Vision on Saturday and Sunday and volunteers at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization Monday through Thursday. She has been a volunteer for TYO’s Core Child AM Program for 2 sessions.

Core AM volunteer Amal smiles as she assists students with their art projects.

Core AM volunteer Amal smiles as she assists students with their art projects.

What has your professional experience been like outside of TYO?

I have gained the most professional experience outside TYO at Medeed Center for Mental Health. This center does work in the areas of mental health, orphan support, campaigns in school, and trainings for university students. The Center for Mental Health holds mental health therapy sessions in individual sessions and with family group sessions with focus on treatment for children. They also sponsor orphans and give them health and financial support. They also do awareness campaigns to decrease bad daily habits of children in school. These awareness campaigns educate students about the impact of bad language, the importance of respecting yourself and your community, and how to show respect through actions such as cleaning up the neighborhood. The trainings for university students who focus on mental health or psychology help prepare them for work in mental health in the future. I was a coordinator for the campaign program and a volunteer helping with the campaigns. I received training on individual and group mental health counseling. For me, this was very beneficial and helped me to practice what I studied at university during trainings and working with parents and children during the sessions.

What do you look for in a work environment?

I studied family development because when I was a kid at school, I experienced many stressful things that I wanted to talk to someone about. I wanted someone to give me answers or help me to feel less stressed as a child at school. At university, I chose this field of study because I didn’t want other kids to feel what I felt at school. I am very dedicated to help Palestinian families, especially the children to prevent mental health problems.

A work environment should be a productive environment. I want to make use of my 8 hours and see the outcome of my work every day. A good work environment would also involve teamwork. Working individually won’t be as productive as working as a team. Everyone has their own strengths and people can complement each other in their skills, so working as a team is important.

What skills have you gained at TYO so far?

My experience at TYO completes what I studied and what I am doing at Medeed because it is all in the same field. At TYO, there is closer observation of children’s behavior. Since we are working with the most disadvantaged areas, my observation is that each child has their own story and own challenges in life. Each child is a case in their own self. The classroom is a great field where I can add more information to my education and practical life. Closer observation of these children every day for 12 weeks inside the classroom has helped me to learn more about behavioral problems, problem solving with children, and develop patience, which is the most important criteria when working with children, especially ages 4-5. At the same time, younger ages of the children mean you can make changes as early as possible. By now, the 10th week, I can see changes in the children. This makes me feel proud that I am really making a change in the lives of these children.

I learned from volunteering how to be determined. To enter Nablus from Einabous, I have to cross Huwwara checkpoint. Sometimes I have to stand and wait for more than an hour. I have seen many students give up and return to their homes, missing their classes at the universities. I have become more determined to ​wait and ​make it past to help the children at TYO. When I am late to class, the children tell their teacher that they know for sure I am coming to see them. For me, being a determined person and having a goal to accomplish will help in my future career. If there is a case that comes to me in the future, I will be determined to finish the task. Recently, I got an offer for a job at an institution, but I felt I needed to finish what I started at TYO. If I start something, it should be completed. If I do not finish my commitment, this will impact my image with TYO and my relationship with the children will change if I turn my back on them. I am not selfish and think of the children first.

What is your career trajectory?

I have been offered 2 jobs. I want to be a manager for a center that deals with special needs or mental health problems for children. Until I reach this position, I need to feel that I have done or learned as much as I can to be ready for it. I am busy for 8-9 hours a day because I am trying to gain as much knowledge as possible to be the right person in the right place. I have done 35 trainings in English, IT, counseling, and leadership in an effort to continually be improving myself. Even between lectures, if I have one at 8:00 and another at 11:00, I will go and do something between the lectures to keep improving my skills. I do not waste any moment or opportunity with organizations where I am volunteering because at each place I will learn something new.


The Youth Service Learning (YSL) program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

Interview conducted by Lindsey, International Internship & Fellowship Coordinator, and translated by Futoon, Outreach Coordinator

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Cake Can Be Healthy, Too


It is hard to live a healthy lifestyle 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is especially difficult to be healthy when living in Palestine due to the limited resources and health education. However, it is important to have a clear understanding of how to stop health problems before they start. For the past 6 weeks, as a part of the Women’s Empowerment Programs at TYO, the women of Nablus have been learning about fitness and nutrition. One major preventable health risk is Type 2 diabetes.  Prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in Palestinian in 2000 was estimated at 9.7% for those ages 25 and up.  This increased to 15.3% by 2010. At this rate of increase by 2020 the rate of Palestinians with Type 2 diabetes will be at 20.8%. With these numbers, health initiatives focusing on healthy eating and exercise need to be taken to help the people of the West Bank.

There is no culture without food. Food functions as a way to give structure to daily life and is a medium that creates bonds between people. It is customary to offer soda, cake, and juice to guests when they are invited to a home. It is also considered rude to not try all these foods when the host offers them. Therefore, these types of high calorie, low nutrient foods are always available in the home. The food that is bought and stored in the home also shows children at a young age that these foods are acceptable to eat. This results in a cycle of consuming unhealthy, sugary foods.

Zahi Khouri fellow Dana explains how to examine your health to a participant of The Women's Group.

Zahi Khouri fellow Dana explains the different ways to measure health to a participant of The Women’s Group.

At the beginning of the session, each woman’s weight and waist circumference were calculated to gauge their baseline measurements. Over the past 6 weeks, the women have learned how their bodies store and metabolize food and have started to understand the science of nutrition. They have learned exercise routines that they can continue in their homes and have been encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle. The women have started offering more fruits, nuts, and fresh squeezed juice in their homes. After learning that eating healthy food can be good for you and taste great, the women have been looking up recipes for healthy cake options. As a result of these small changes, 40-50% of the women have successfully achieved a healthy goal of 2 cm smaller waistlines and on average a 2-3 kilo decrease in weight.

The exercises and diet changes that the women have been involved in during this session have created a positive track towards a healthier lifestyle. We hope this positive growth is the first step toward preventative health care within the community.


Dana, Zahi Khouri Fellow, Spring 2016

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Humans of Nablus 12


Ahmad_ watch

When I think of Nablus, I think of a special city. It is one where you can find a mix of people, from Christians to Muslims to Samaritans, and despite the mix, everyone seems to live happily and equally with each other. It also reminds me of how TYO has the same kind of special diversity, bringing in groups from the Khalleh neighbourhood, as well as those from the three refugee camps around Nablus, Balata, Askar and Al-Ain. Nablus is a simple city, but it’s a great one, and it has become home to me.

عندما افكر بمدينة نابلس اعتقد انها مدينة مميزة. انها المكان الذي تجد فيه اناس مختلفون من اديان مختلفة المسيحيين والمسلمين والسمرة وبالرغم من هذا التنوع من الواضح ان الجميع سعداء ومتساوون مع بعضهم البعض وهذا ايضا يذكرني كيف ان منظمة شباب الغد لديها نفس الصفة من التنوع الفريد على مستوى اصغر فهناك دمج  ما بين مجموعات المستفيدين من خلة العامود والمخيمات الثلاث في المدينة-عسكروبلاطة والعين  . نابلس مدينة بسيطة ولكنها عظيمة واصبحت الان بمكانة بيتي


Ahmad is a teacher in TYO’s Core Early Childhood program, supported in part by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.

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