The English level of the kids here in Palestine is truly astounding, but as with all skate communities, there are some phrases and terms that are unique to these communities. Teaching kids skateboarding 5 days a week, there are a few things we’ve become very used to hearing.
The kids refer to the boards as skates, so when they want you to get them one they’ll run up and say “a skate? a skate?”. The kids who have their own boards refer to them as “my skate”. This is something said so widely that I’ve noticed I now refer to my board in my own mind as “my skate” now and, honestly, I don’t hate it.
There are a few variations of this one. It’s common for the kids to shout “hands” or “catch” when they want help, especially dropping in. As the kids progress, they’ll often say “two hands” then “one hand” and then “one finger” as they become increasingly confident. We see this a lot with kids learning to with drop-in or master tricks such as rock-fakie.
“One”, “two” and “1, 2, 3… ok?”
The kids who are comfortable skating around the park love to skate lines with the coaches and there are a couple of ways they’ll express how they want to do this. The first is when they want to go first and they want you to follow, in which case they’ll gesture to themselves as they say “one” and gesture to you as they say “two”. Other times, they want to drop in at the same time and skate alongside each other or race, in that case, they’ll count “one, two, three” on their fingers and say “ok?” to confirm you’ve understood.
Mastering any trick takes a lot of practice, so it’s normal for skaters to spend whole sessions trying the same thing over and over again. One thing I’ve noticed with the kids here, is that they ask “again?” before going back to try again. I think perhaps they think we might not want to keep doing the same thing repeatedly, but as skaters we know that’s the only way to improve. I always answer “yes, again, again!” as enthusiastically as I can to show them that I’m happy to keep going for as long as they are.
“What’s your name?”
I don’t need to explain what this one means, but something I’ve noticed, especially amongst the younger children is that, often, they don’t expect a response. As younger children copy the older children with better English, “what’s your name?” has become a greeting and it’s often unclear if they’re asking your name or just saying hello. Now, I say “Amber” and high five them to cover all bases.
An extra one worth mentioning is hearing your own named screamed from across the skatepark with lung power you really wouldn’t expect a child of 8 to be capable of. That usually means they want you to watch them.
So, that’s our top 5 most popular phrases among the kids in the Palestinian skateparks we’ve taught in. Hopefully, it gives you a good flavour of what our day-to-day coaching here entails. For information on teaching skateboarding in Palestine check out our blogs posts Arabic phrases to help you teach skateboarding and Best tricks to teach skateboarding from scratch.