Don’t get me wrong – the teacher is wonderful, friendly and enthusiastic, as are some of the students. But they are almost all beginners, and I’m not.
I thought they’d do a test or something, at some point, like maybe just say hi in Hebrew as you walk through the door the first day. Maybe ask how you’re doing or how long you’ve been in Israel. I could answer those things, but probably pretty badly, and then they’d know what level of ulpan I belong in.
Instead, they herded us in, gave us name tags (mine was spelled wrong; that darn yud. Most people couldn’t read theirs.) and began at the beginning: “ani Tzivia.” Now, five days later, we’re up to “korim li Tzivia – ani ola chadasha miKanada; ani gara b’Kiryat Yam bi’rechov Sapir, b’Merkaz Klita; ani talmida b’ulpan.”
Here, the teacher – TeeLee – is drawing “sameach” (happy) on the board. I have known how to say this word since infancy, as far as I can remember. Yet many people in the class can’t even seem to fathom the concept of language at all.
When confronted, a few of them will answer in Russian, even though they have presumably signed up for ulpan to learn Hebrew and understand on some level that, in class, they should attempt to speak it. The truth is that you could get by – probably very easily up here in the north – with just Russian, and maybe a smattering of Hebrew.
More boredom doodles – drawing each item as she introduced it.
Later, there was a festive balloon release for Rosh Hashana, carrying greetings of peace and bracha perhaps as far as Lebanon or Syria.
The more advanced ulpan groups got to show off their Hebrew at the ulpan party; I don’t know how they got into those groups, but I get the sense that a) they have been here for a while, and b) they are more demographically homogeneous – ie one group all-Russian, one group all-Ethiopian, etc. Okay, no etc; those are the two demographics here. We are the anomaly.
And in our class, I am the anomaly. Grrr… more boredom notes to come. I may switch after Sukkos, although, of course, they keep calling it Sukkot, for some reason. :-)