Monday, July 23, 2012

The Test - I'm Toast

Ulpan test is this Thursday, so teacher #2 (tough one) decided, even though we thought we all agreed NOT to do any more practice tests, to do a practice test today.

She succeeded in taking the tiny bit of self confidence we have gained in 5 months, holding it up for ridicule, throwing it on the floor and performing a Mexican hat dance on it.  Needless to say, we all walked out of class with heads held low and grumbling  - in English.

This is what I have to say about my Hebrew:

--If someone on the street stops me and asks me to change a passive sentence to an active one, "or else" - I'm else.

--If I go into a store and ask for something and use the hiphil conjugation and the sales person asks - "Was that with two 'yuds' or one?" - I will not, ever, know.

--If someone hands me a flashcard with a sentence that begins "Ilu" and wants me to change it to future tense, starting with the word "im" - this I cannot do.

--If you ask me, say, in a job interview, what the active form of each passive form is, and how to put it into future tense for plural - say bye bye to the job.

You get the idea.

And in true Israeli tough love fashion, this same teacher, as we hang our heads after she berates us for the errors we keep making ("How can you WRITE THIS? I taught it to you LAST WEEK?"), tries to comfort us, telling us how much we've improved.

So basically we are all dazed and confused, and have totally abandoned ship as far as succeeding on the test.  We have a "whatever" attitude that has turned into something of a class joke.  At least we can lean on each other for support.

As I've said before, though, don't worry if you plan to make aliyah and are fearful of the Hebrew learning process.  EVERYONE says the same thing.  After I mentioned to friends that I am OK with sounding like a blithering idiot for the rest of my life, people who've been here twenty or thirty years shrug and say, "Oh yeah, we feel the same way."

So maybe I'll wear my imperfect (OK, let's face it, pretty elementary) Hebrew as a badge of courage.  I came, I sat in class for 5 months, I did not conquer, but I'm staying.

Israelis will have to get used to me making errors, and I'm pretty sure I won't bring the country to its knees on this score.  I will also get MUCH better at - saying English words with an Israeli accent.  It works, people, trust me.  You can't say, "Yesh lachem Cocoa Krispies" with your usual American accent - instead you have to say, "Yesh lachem Kokoh Kreespeez?" - and then they get it.  It's like magic.

So test or no test, I'm here to stay and I em verry heppee.


  1. I got a 90 on the test 2 years ago and now, for the life of me, cannot do the active/passive stuff you speak of. But I understand a lot more of what's on the radio, have reasonable conversations with people in shul, etc. Ulpan is like a jump start, but it's not the be-all and end-all (despite what Ms. Linguistic things).
    Be strong! Keep talking to Ariella--she'll teach you.

  2. Yeah, I have never changed a sentence from active to passive since I left ulpan. You got it right with the Israeli accent. Lost of English words can slide by like that :)
    Just sprinkle in as much Hebrew as you can and you should be fine. Hand gestures also work. Trust me, I'm a whole 6 months vatikah over you :)