Well, I’ve been pretty quiet lately. Mostly that’s because I’ve gotten pretty busy since October 15. I have been working half-time for my normal job since we left the US. But last week I finally began taking some modern Hebrew classes.
My intention was to jump in and start Hebrew classes as soon as we got here but we found that the academic ‘terms’ are a bit different here and almost all schedules started new after the holiday break which was the first two weeks of October. So… anyway… here I am now.
In my book any exposer to the language is better than none. Hebrew ulpanim (pl) is offered by many institutions (academic, public, private, etc) in the city and the country. They are meant to be a crash course full blown language immersion program to deal with the influx of non-Hebrew speaking internationals that immigrate to Israel from literally all corners of the globe. In a matter of 3 months one can finish the level one program (aleph). And I believe that the standard is a four level program which one could accomplish in a year to a year-and-a-half depending on how hard you push. At which point you would be considered quite fluent. In fact to go to the Hebrew University you need to be of level 4 caliber but many working class people stop somewhere between level 2 and 4 from what I understand.
Class for me is four days a week 3 hours a day with an hour of homework. We are given two different instructors who alternate days. This is so we can hear different accents and ways of speaking. I would say on our first day of class we have about 2-3 minutes of English. Everything else was in Hebrew. Writing, reading, speaking, listening. Needless to say I’m learning a lot even though I studied Biblical Hebrew for a year in school (and 5 years on my own.)
My former Biblical Hebrew prof encouraged us to take modern Hebrew ulpan as a way of bolstering our Biblical Hebrew skills. There are certainly many modern words which are not useful for reading the Hebrew of the Bible. But the modern language is based off of the Biblical language and the similarities in structure, speaking, and vocab are in fact closer than our English is to Shakespearean English.
Since this post is getting long already I’ll save some items for another post. Most notably my fellow students: who they are and where they come from. (One person noted we have a regular mock UN in class!)