Last week, I asked a current New Stream Grade 9 student to participate on a Skype call with a prospective New Stream student who is moving to Toronto next year. The prospective student is deciding between TanenbaumCHAT and another private school, and I had suggested that he “meet” a real live TanenbaumCHAT student and get an authentic perspective.
“What level were your Hebrew skills when you first started CHAT?”, the prospective student asked.
“I could speak a word or two at the beginning of the year,” our student responded.
“And how is it now?,” the applicant inquired.
“Today, after studying in TanenbaumCHAT’s New Stream Ivrit program, I can write an entire paragraph about myself in Hebrew,” he said somewhat nonchalantly.
I was impressed. In fact, I was beaming. Nine months of Hebrew language instruction and this TanenbaumCHAT “ambassador” can write personal information about himself and his family and describe things he likes and activities he’s involved in—all in Hebrew. What an accomplishment!
“And what about your ability to speak?,” the prospective student continued.
“I can speak Hebrew comfortably with my classmates and likely could do the same with students in Grade 10.”
What naches! Of all the subjects we teach in the school, Ivrit is one of the few subjects where it is relatively easy to map one’s progress–especially if one came to TanenbaumCHAT knowing very little Hebrew. I can only imagine the sense of joy, pride, and accomplishment that our New Stream students feel.
I shared this experience with Geveret Fischtein, one of our New Stream Ivrit teachers, and she said that she had a similar experience. At the end of the year, she asked her New Stream students to write on the whiteboard all the topics they had learned and skills they had acquired this year.
What did they write on that whiteboard?
- That they can write and talk about themselves.
- That they can carry a conversation that entails their name, a description of their house (including listing the furniture in it), describe the school, what they do in their classes, and the furniture in the room.
- That they can use prepositions properly, conjugate verbs and adjectives to match the nouns in the different genders both in singular and plural.
- That their vocabulary grew immensely.
- That they increased their general knowledge of daily news in Israel as well as Israeli geography, culture, and music.
As the students looked at this list, they were in awe that just nine months ago, many of them did not know an “aleph” from a “tav” or the sounds of the vowels. Today, they can carry a rudimentary conversation with confidence and do it with a sense of love for the Hebrew language.
These students now have the keys that connect them more closely to the Jewish people globally, modern Israelis in particular, the Jewish State and all its cultural and literary creativity, and they are helping to sustain a language that had been dormant for 2000 years. Quite an achievement for one year’s effort. Keep it up New Stream! Bring on the 2017-2018 academic year!