Tutor volunteer Rita Katz (right) chats with student Noam Dazan, who went to the U.S. as part of a high school delegation
ESRA Modiin’s popular Let’s Talk program matches English and Hebrew speakers wishing to improve their spoken ability. In June we were approached by the municipality to help three Israeli students in a crash course over the summer to improve their English. The students were part of an official high school delegation to the U.S. in October where they were to met and converse with their American peers on a broad range of topics such as educational systems, economics, government and politics. We recruited two teenage immigrants who, together with Rita Katz, one of our veteran tutor volunteers in Modiin schools, offered to assist the students with their English, and by the same token improve their spoken Hebrew. Rita subsequently reported: “I met with Noam Dazan many times over the past three months, and not only is she an excellent student, but also an excellent teacher! She really pushed me to get going with speaking Hebrew. It turned out that we were both be in the U.S. at the same time, but at opposite ends of the country, which gave us a wonderful opportunity to discuss how big the U.S. really is. “It is interesting how we take so much for granted, not realizing that the other person may not understand what we are saying. The best example I can think of is between the U.S. and South Africa. When one is asked for a “nappie for the baby”, as an American, I think of a table napkin, only to find that the South African means a diaper. Likewise, when students speak of “Bible” the Israeli is thinking of Tanach, whereas an American may mean the New Testament.“Noam made significant progress during our talks, and the experience of working with her has been a very positive one for both of us. It is not only learning the language, but also learning about the cultural differences and idioms which have been mutually enlightening.
“Thank you so much ESRA for this opportunity.”