A Travellerspoint blog

Lots of Words and Lots of Books

sunny 86 °F

The Global Language Monitor reports that the English language reached its 1 millionth word today. I probably don't even know a tenth of those words but if I was learning English instead of Hebrew that piece of information would probably be really daunting. The last few days of Ulpan have been a lot of review. We also have learned a lot of new verbs mostly relating to transportation. And as an added bonus it seems like I have been learning at least a word or two in Russian a day too.

This week is Hebrew Book Week in Israel. In cities all over Israel are outdoor book fairs. Bookstores have huge sales on every book in the store. The center of malls are lined with special tables filled with all kinds of new and used books. This year marks Tel Aviv's 100 year anniversary so four books relating to Tel Aviv's history were released for this occasion in the city's honor. A journalist from the Haaretz publication had this to say: "Only 100 years have passed since the holy tongue awoke from its millennia of sleep, but today it is blossoming in literature, constantly renewing and refreshing itself with the spirit of nonsense and wisdom, an ageless beauty that many see as the most outstanding achievement of the Jewish people's return to its land. In other languages, too, Israeli literature has become a superpower: You can find David Grossman and Zeruya Shalev in bookstores in dozens of countries, along with A.B. Yehoshua, Etgar Keret, Yehudit Katzir and Amos Oz. They are providing millions of people with possible answers to the growing question of how it is possible to be an Israeli." I stood for an hour rumaging through stacks of beautiful new kids books in Hebrew. The book maniac in me wanted to buy all the books I could carry but based on my level of reading comprehension so far, it would be to embarrassing to buy board books comparable to Goodnight Moon and One Happy Puppy.

Honored this week was a fifth grader from Jerusalem who read a record 400 books over the past year. I will be happy if I read that many books in my whole lifetime! You can read the full article here: http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=35417

Posted by Sarah 2116 05:22 Comments (0)

The Road to Dreams Becoming Reality is Full of Flashcards

70 °F

Today I went to Jerusalem with a friend of mine from Ulpan. We didn't have a lot of time since Ulpan takes up most of the day plus it takes over an hour to get to Jerusalem but a change in scenery even for just a few hours was nice. I have only made it out of the Petach Tikva/Tel Aviv area once since arriving here a month ago. We found a happy, little Aroma (my favorite coffee chain in Israel) overlooking the Old City to study in. We ended up getting some help from a waitress who had only just finished Ulpan herself! After we studied for awhile, we walked around the shops in the Old City for awhile. I found a little shop with the most beautiful embroidered wall hangings which reminded me of the wall hanging quilts my mom makes. Out of sheer habit I began sounding out the letters embroided in Hebrew in the center of one of the wall hangings. I actually was able to read the whole thing AND understand that it was a verse from the Bible. When it hit me that I understood it I actually burst into tears. I have so far to go but my little heart swelled with kindergarten pride as I remembered where this American girl came from (which was, uh, not even able to remember my Aleph Bet!) So that was a really encouraging way to start the week.

Carmella has been working so hard and is such an amazing teacher. Today we played a game called "Mi Ani?" known to us American's as "Who Am I?" We had to choose a famous individual and in our broken Hebrew describe that character in first person until our classmates could identify the person. Individuals that were described included Winston Churchill, Marie Curie and quite a few Americans such as Elvis and Brittany Spears.

Carmella warned us that we will be learning a new tense in the morning.

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Check out my new photos

I uploaded a few photos to the photo section of my blog. Be sure to check them out!

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Study Your Hebrew

...until it is time for the bomb shelter drill

81 °F

This week we learned how to count in both the feminine and masculine tenses; learned basic questions found on many forms (such as name, date of birth, birth place, age, profession, marital status, etc); and covered the names of the days of the week and months of the year. The days of the week are easy to remember since literally they are called "first day" (Sunday) "second day" (Monday) "third day" (Tuesday) and so on. We covered family relationship terms (such as cousin, aunt, son in law). Little by little our adjective vocabulary is growing too. Carmella holds up pictures and calls on us to "Ahzer!" ("describe it!") We are also beginning to learn the numerical equivalent each Hebrew letter has. We learned that there is a clear way to differentiate when a letter is a letter verses when a letter is representing a number. When a letter is representing a number, there is an apostrophe over the letter.

Today one of our assignments was to write a letter to Carmella describing ourselves and our interests. That was a really challenging exercise since it forced me to change tenses, use the correct word endings and most of all use correct spelling! I know my letter looks like a 4 year old wrote it but it was really good practice.

We had an unusual exercise today at the close of class. We had a bomb shelter drill. Apparently the whole town is having one within the next week or so. Carmella decided to show us where to go in advance so that we wouldn't be confused or overwhelmed for the actual drill. She told us since we were on the top of a three story building we would have one minute from the start of the alarm to get from our classroom to the shelter. Carmella said that the number one most dangerous thing to do is run. We were instructed to calmly go downstairs, cross the courtyard and go through the door with a guitar painted on the wall. Hopefully the only time we will ever have to do that is for the upcoming drill.

Posted by Sarah 2116 04:57 Comments (4)

The Grammar Jungle

sunny 84 °F

Almost our whole lesson today was on the exceptions to the Hebrew grammar rules. As far as I can tell these exceptions have no rhyme or reason. No rule like "i before e except after c" to pave the way into this grammar jungle. For the most part Hebrew is extremely orderly. Words are all based off the masculine tense. Feminine words almost always end in "ah" or "t." Feminine plural almost always ends in "-ote." Masculine plural always ends in "-ime." It gets complicated when the noun is feminine plural and the adjective is plural but has a "-ime" (the typical masculine ending) for the ending. Olga says we basically just have to memorize these inconsistency's. Changing the tense to infinitive is simple; just as "la-" or "le-" depending on what letter the word starts with. I think I am making a little progress. I can understand a little more each day. Reading is the hardest part for me right now. I have found that I understand more of what I am reading if I read out loud even if it is just to myself.

With a name like Olga and the amount of Russian she speaks in class, I was beginning to get a little concerned that I was learning to speak Hebrew with a Russian accent. My Russian friend (who also speaks English and lives here in Israel now) stopped by my Ulpan this week and after talking with Olga for awhile relieved my concerns by saying that actually she speaks Hebrew like an Israeli and Russian with a Hebrew accent.

Israel has gradually turned me into a tea addict. I never was a tea drinker before but tea is big here and for some reason it tastes better here too. Other than that I live off of cucumbers, sprouts, hummus, granola and yogurt. It is cheep, fast and no clean up. My sister jokes that this is the Israeli equivalent to a college student diet minus the ramen noodles.

Posted by Sarah 2116 10:42 Comments (6)

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