Ulpan & learning Hebrew
Whether you choose to learn Hebrew at a home-ulpan, a kibbutz ulpan, a private ulpan, an on-line ulpan or one offered as part of your immigrant benefits, the key to a successful integration into Israeli society is the language. Employment opportunities, social and cultural enrichment are all increased when you have learned Hebrew. New immigrants (olim) have, as part of their immigrant privileges, the right to study, for free, at an ulpan (sing.) recognized by Misrad Haklitah (Ministry of Absorption & Integration). Your first Ulpan will teach you the basics of Hebrew; to read, to write and simple conversation. Advanced Hebrew courses are also available as are courses that teach you vocational Hebrew. Tourists, contract workers, temporary residents etc., wishing to learn the language, can study Hebrew at private institutions all over the country.
Different needs, different ulpan
The kibbutz ulpan experience
Kibbutz ulpanim (pl.) combine Hebrew study with work on the kibbutz. This can be arranged via the Jewish Agency (Sochnut) or via one of the kibbutz movements.The Religious Kibbutz Movement Tel: 03- 6072777 The United Kibbutz Movement Tel: 03 6925345
Learning Hebrew On-line
An increasing number of ulpanim in Israel are offering lessons and being conducted online. This is a great way to start learning basic Hebrew before you arrive in Israel. These courses are convenient. They use accelerated methods to learn Hebrew through audio, video and other aids.
A conversion ulpan operates for those who are involved in a conversion (gi’yur) to Judaism program. There around 100 classes country-wide. If you do not have Israeli citizenship (ez’ra’chut), you must receive prior permission from the Ministry of Interior (Misrad Hapnim) in order to participate in this kind of ulpan. If you are an Israeli citizen, an interview with the Rabbinical courts is required. You can contact the office of Conversion Administration at tel: 02-6214553 for more information.
Country-wide listing of Ulpanim
You can learn Hebrew at one of the many ulpanim across the country. See our database of Ulpanim in Israel
By interacting with native Israelis, you will pick up aspects of the language that cannot be taught in ulpan. You will also learn Hebrew slang and cultural mannerisms. Do not be afraid to make mistakes and ask native Hebrew speakers to correct your grammar if necessary.
Jordan’s ulpan story…
In the last few years there has been much talk about the ulpanim; several well-known ulpanim have closed down, and the fate of others hangs in the balance. As always, the problem is money and politics; an ongoing battle between the Education Ministry and the Absorption Ministry. Without adequate language skills, making ones way in Israeli society is very difficult.
A short while ago, the students at Haifa’s Aba Houshy Ulpan Aleph, became aware of an upcoming bill in the Knesset proposing that the national ulpanim be closed down. On hearing this, their class teacher suggested that they petition against this and write letters to promote the case against closure of these ulpanim. The teacher was on hand to correct their Hebrew!
New Oleh, Jordan Mandell, originally from London, England, has been in the country for seven months. He is a resident of Haifa and attends Aba Houshy – Ulpan Aleph in Kiryat Eliezer, Haifa. Jordan took it upon himself to make the voices of his classmates heard.
Jordan says: “Anyone who knows me will know that writing convincing letters is not one of my strongest skills. I decided to promote my views via something I know more about… video and of course YouTube. The following day I came to ulpan armed with my camera and filmed the students”.
Jordan interviewed a bunch of his fellow students – olim from all over the world, and asked for their comments and opinions.
- Alessandra said that she can’t learn Hebrew from a book on her own. Classmate Lauren, from Australia agrees. She said the ulpan helps her develop a network, so important in daily life in Israel.
- Miriam from Argentina, who knew a bit of Hebrew before she came, said that she learned many cultural aspects of life in Israel, as well as getting to know people from other countries. She acknowledges that her Hebrew has improved tremendously from the ulpan “Anyone can use a dictionary” she said.
- Sophia from Russia, who also speaks fluent English, said that she gets a lot of support from the ulpan not only in terms of language, but also in integrating into society here.
- Paul likes the fact that they are forced to speak Hebrew all day.
- Andy & Jonathan, from South Africa, say that the teaching methods are good and the teachers are very nice. The ulpan gives them a good grounding, and they would hate to see them close.
- Harmony said she has learned modern Hebrew, when she came she could read the alphabet. She could not have integrated without the ulpan.
Jordan summed it up by saying that the ulpan has had a direct effect on his Aliyah, the Hebrew he learns at ulpan helps him with his daily life.
Jordan told us “Should anything like this happen again the videos are a reminder of how the ulpan has eased our absorption and increased our knowledge of the Israeli way of life. The ulpan did not only teach us to understand Hebrew”.
In conclusion he said “Don’t ever close the ulpanim they are too important”