Feminine and Masculine - the entire Hebrew vocabulary is based on knowing which words are which. And forget rhyme or reason. As soon as you think you've "got" the rules down, here comes 10,000 exceptions to it.
I mean, how am I to remember that when you use numbers, and you have a feminine noun, the number associated with it is [almost] always masculine? I am not making this up, folks.
So a table is a boy, but a chair is a girl. And some feminine nouns have masculine endings when they are pluralized - but their adjectives are still feminine. Go figure that one out.
And you want to know a secret? Don't tell anyone but I still sing that little song to myself that I learned in 2nd grade of Hebrew school - "Hoo is he and hee is she and dodi is my uncle." Yup, still do it, kind of like "thirty days hath September" that I still do as well.
Today was the Ulpan oral exam and all I wanted, please please please was not to embarrass myself and my entire family and all my ancestors with my mistakes. We were all pretty sure that the tester was going to run out of the building laughing hysterically after listening to us. OR all of the teachers were going to gather at a bar afterwards and drown their sorrows over our failures.
The tester asked me some simple questions. Name? Yes! I know it! Where do you live? Got it, no problem! THEN.....[cue the scary music]--how many children do you have? Uh oh.
Now I have to remember whether two for daughters is shnay or shtay. Don't worry, folks, I won't disappoint you, I messed it up.
Then she asked my profession. Well, since we came here and I am not doing what I used to do, I really don't have a word for it, so I end up explaining the company I work for and that always confuses the heck out of everyone. What? You write? You do research? What? Ok, let's move on.
THEN I had to tell a story - anything I wanted. I talked about our son and his family, and described the kids, etc. I endured about 15 corrections during the telling of the story, but I did remember some pretty fancy shmancy vocabulary words so the tester actually raised her eyebrow a little at that. Or maybe she raised her eyebrow because she was thinking to herself, "This woman has been in Ulpan for 5 months and she still talks like an imbecile."
Anyway, the oral test is over and now we all look forward with great anticipation to the written test. It's 2.5 hours with a break in the middle.
Now let's describe the conversation we had about WHY we take these tests. You see, if you are looking for a job in Israel, the company MAY ask you if you took Ulpan and MAY want to see your certificate. For this you need to take the test. Otherwise, it's simply an opportunity to see how little Hebrew you actually know after dedicating hundreds of hours to sitting in class.
I had a brief moment of excitement when one of the teachers mentioned that Nefesh b'Nefesh gives 2000 shekel to you when you get your certificate. Wowee, then it's really worth it! But, um, no, as I found out after calling NBN and hounding them until someone talked to me, that offer ended in 2011.
Like I said before, you have to have a positive attitude. I WILL eventually remember everything. No, I won't. I just have to get used to that. But I have improved! For instance at the mall just now I only had to correct a verb three times! Not four! Yay for me!