Software Review: Ulpan Arcade

Very user friendly, the game is easily maneuvered from main to subtopics and from study sessions to quizzes.

ulpan arcade 88  (photo credit: Courtesy)
ulpan arcade 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The more Diaspora Jews (and others) who learn Hebrew, the merrier. But this program, produced in Chicago and meant for English-speaking kids from the age of 10, can also teach more than 1,000 basic English words to younger Hebrew speakers as well. The words are divided into 10 categories - Animals, Culture, Food, House, Jewish, Nature, People, School, Technology and Transportation, and each is broken down into a number of subtopics. For example, under Animals you can find zoo animals, insects, domestic animals, birds and sea and farm animals, while under Jewish, there are interpersonal, Shabbat and holidays, mitzvot of the Land, events and ceremonies and places and objects. The Jewish section is, obviously, the most Jewish, with halachic concepts and more photos of haredi Jews than modern Orthodox. However, as it is made abroad and not in (the more religiously extreme) Israel, the Technology section presents a TV and VCR - and throughout, there are images of modestly dressed girls and women instead of only men. Very user friendly, the game is easily maneuvered from main to subtopics and from study sessions to quizzes, which require you to match Hebrew and English words, drag answers to their proper place and turn over cards for a memory game. Refreshingly, each of the 54 subtopics has its own unique game with individual graphics and sound effects. The background music, which can optionally be switched off, is both Jewish and lively. Davka will add additional categories to its Ulpan Arcade for downloading from its Web site. As one can enter many user names and each player's scores in each category and subtopic are recorded, the game is obviously intended to teach Hebrew vocabulary to children in Diaspora Jewish schools, among others. In addition, all the material can be printed out. There is also a Hebrew-English dictionary whose words can be categorized either by topic or the alphabet and a useful Help feature. The only translation error I found in this attractive and educational product is the Hebrew for "rabbit," which should be arnevet and not shafan, a wild, short-eared relative of my favorite pet. Ulpan Arcade, a CD-ROM in English and Hebrew, by Davka Corporation, for PC with Windows 2000 and up and Mac with OS X and 512 MB RAM or better, for ages 10 and up, $34.95 or shekel equivalent). Rating: *****