The experience was exhilarating, humbling, challenging, enriching, and exciting. A few weeks prior to my arrival at the ulpan, I underwent a speaking/listening evaluation via Skype, and I was given an online assignment to prepare me for my first class.
While God may have created the world in six days, it is impossible to become fluent in Hebrew in five days, though I tried.
Recently I had the pleasure of travelling to Israel to visit dear friends and spend five days studying conversational Hebrew at an ulpan in Jerusalem’s charming Baka district.
An ulpan is an institute or school for intensive study of Hebrew. I am an avid Hebrew learner, and it had been a lifelong dream of mine to study in Israel and be immersed in the language and culture 24/7.
There are different models of ulpanim, but I chose the five-day “Sabra” program, five hours per day. As a student at the intermediate level, I expected that this program would serve as a “booster shot” to improve my fluency, knowing full well, however, that it requires years of living in a country to become truly fluent.
At the ulpan itself, my daily schedule consisted of three hours at the institute, with private lessons and independent study, followed by a two-hour “field trip,” also with a private teacher.
The field trips to the Machane Yehuda Market (“the shuk”) Café Roladin, the German Colony, and Jerusalem Railway Station were fantastic! I learned so much and could not believe that I could actually converse in Hebrew for two hours, non-stop.
All in all, I made improvements in listening comprehension and speaking, which were my goals. I still have a long way to go to truly master Hebrew. I will continue with my weekly classes locally and seek out opportunities to practice.
I am deeply appreciative of the enthusiastic, encouraging, kind, and patient teachers, who were responsive to my needs and learning style, and of the effective methodology at my ulpan. It was an amazing experience, and I cannot wait for my next visit to the incredible, beautiful, and precious land of Israel.
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– Beth Sanchez