Ulpan studies go on-line

A new online government ulpan allows olim and potential olim to learn Hebrew from home.

computers 88 (photo credit: )
computers 88
(photo credit: )
For countrywide ulpanim click here. The Immigrant Absorption Ministry on Sunday unveiled an interactive Web site for new immigrants to learn Hebrew in their own homes as part of a slew of initiatives aimed at helping newcomers improve their language skills. Now, with the click of a mouse, Hebrew learners can play games, listen to a radio broadcast about correct Hebrew, and even watch a children's TV show in easy Hebrew. The site can be accessed at http://hebrew.moia.gov.il. The ministry hopes that the site, which has tabs for English, Russian, French, Spanish and Amharic speakers, will be used by Jews in the Diaspora who plan to make aliya soon. The project also includes a 24-hour interactive television station, a plan first reported by The Jerusalem Post in December. This week the station, which will be included in standard cable packages, will be put out for tender. The ministry expects it to be on air in the next few months. As part of the NIS 8 million-per-year project, the ministry has also developed an easy Hebrew comic strip to be placed in youth magazines. "It is of the utmost importance to strengthen the language [skills] of immigrants as part of enabling them to be part of Israeli society [and] so that they can find suitable work," said Immigrant Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni. The ministry also opened Hebrew classes (ulpanim) over the summer for immigrant children, most of whom currently receive only an hour a week of such Hebrew instruction in schools. Ministry director-general Mirla Gal said the hours will be expanded for children who come with families making "communal" aliya, in which groups of immigrants meet in their native countries before moving as a group to the same place in Israel. Because of the high concentration of pupils with similar language needs, she explained, it will make it easier to increase the language classes for them. Gal said it is the Education Ministry that determines the amount of Hebrew instruction for immigrant pupils, while her ministry is limited to after-school programming. "I think there is a misconception that children learn fast," she said. "They learn fast, but they need classes too."