Thursday, November 30, 2006

Free At Last

Have officially retired from Ulpan. Was threatening retirement for some time already and really, continued during the month of November because October was a short month - holidays and all. Then, the classes were reformed and reorganized. Ira, who graduated from Gimel into Daled with a 97 on his test (or something like that) suddenly ended up in my Hey/Vav class with the Gimelites and the graduated Daledites and whomever else wanted to be in our class. For the first week or so, it was really a mess as things sorted themselves out and as people figured out if they were in the right place. Meanwhile, those remaining Hey/Vavites were feeling that their hardwon victories with their teacher - we had convinced Tzippi that we wanted to read literature and we had started to do different things that were fun - were all for naught, as the pace of the class slowed to accomodate everyone. Ira, and his Gimelites, were coping alright but there was stress over the speed of certain things and that wasn't fun for them. One of his compatriots tried the new Gimel class again, but it was overcrowded and not the answer and the head of the Ulpan was unsympathetic to her plight. We all felt annoyed - why wasn't the Ulpan answering the needs of all the students and why had they cut out the Daled Class, when there were students who needed that level? They claimed not enough students and so forth but in the end, the students needs were not being met.

Things settled down, though. My teacher, Tzippi, would teach Sun-Tues and her classes ran in a similar style and pace to what we, the hey/vavniks, were fairly used to. That means many discussions of personal experiences, feminism, life, the get the picture. We listened to the news, generally at a clip, but did parse out the topics and words. We read material - stories and plays and such, and worked it thru but again, at a fast pace. With Tzippi, it was all about her mood of the day and what she wanted to do and her reaction to the group. I'm pleased to report that she liked us, and in particular, I felt a strong connection to her. I'm trying to work up the oomph to call her and invite her over for coffee, as I feel that I could be friendly with her - lots in common and all that. Actually, I do have to call her up because we've planned a little get together at our place with a few graduates who've not been around and we'd all like to see and hear what they've been doing.

Wed-Thurs were taught by Ira's teacher, Ora. Ora is an excellent teacher - exacting, great for grammar and her hebrew is very clean and clear to listen to. Tzippi's was excellent as well but Ora is even clearer, perhaps because she more commonly teaches Gimel? I don't know. Ora is a dikduk/grammar wonk (just like Ira), in the best of ways, really, and she was going to take the class thru grammar exercises for two days each week. That meant no more movies on Thursdays, though, sigh. Tzippi did do the occasional movie on Tuesdays but it wasn't the same. By Thursday you need the movie more. Anyway, with Ora, we reviewed and reviewed Pee'el, Heef'eel, Hoof'al until it was coming out of my ears and you know what? I didn't care which one was Peh/Nun or Peh/Yud or Peh/Vav. Well, I appreciated what it meant and all that and I do care about using more sophisticated conjugations in my speech but ulimately, when you're standing in front of the mechanic or at the bank, you ain't thinking, now is it Peh/Van or Ka'fool? It wasn't Ora's fault, I was glad for review but we were just taking too much time with it and the exercises were excruciating. On the positive side, we did some excellent work with radio news and that was good. We had some good classroom discussions but it felt like the class had taken a different step. We would go to the listening room, always an exciting trip - I detested this. You sit with headphones and listen to some topic and answer questions. Now, we'd sit, with workbook and listen to an article/topic read so slowly, I could fall asleep in between words. What was the point of that? If the class was at different levels, why couldn't we listen to different levels? Ah well, it doesn't matter really, of course, just analyzing for your potential reading pleasure. When I went in to the Ulpan office to tell them I was finishing up, along with a whole bunch of my fellow hey/vavniks, I tried telling her that the Ulpan had done a disservice to us in combining all the classes and it was like it was revisionist history - she didn't understand, no longer remembered what she had done and why it might have been a problem.

So, I slogged on through Nov because ulimately, sitting in a classroom 5 days a week, using one's hebrew is valuable but I swear that once I get over my feeling of relief that I'm done (for the moment, at least. I have 2 months left coming to me by virtue of being a newbie), I will read the newspaper daily and I will listen to the news and I will read a book. Right now, I'm enjoying my freedom. Free at last. Free at last.

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