We are about 2 months into the program, and at this point my conversations with any Israeli I meet, whether random or not, seem to follow the same dialogue.
“What is your name?”
Begrudgingly, with a forced smile, “Daisy.”
“Ah Daisy! What are you doing in Israel?”
“I am here teaching English.”
“But you don’t speak Hebrew?”
|My Israeli Alter Ego Daisy|
I then explain how I understand a little Hebrew but it’s definitely not easy –the language barrier DOES make for some incredibly hilarious stories though. For example, one day a student in Kitah Aleph (1st grade) approached me and explained that she knew how to say 2 things in English. Elated, I asked her to tell me what she knew.
“Good morning poopies!” she exclaimed.
“How cute,” I thought, “She is trying to say good morning puppies!”
I smiled and said “Good morning puppies?! Very good! What else do you know how to say?”
She responded, “Sheket!” which of course means quiet… in Hebrew.
It was a valiant effort on her behalf for sure.
After this encounter, I had the opportunity to observe an English class. As the teacher entered the classroom, she announced, “Good morning pupils!”
It was in that exact moment that I realized the student earlier was not trying to show off her knowledge of canine salutations but rather say “Good morning pupils.” Safe to say I was a little embarrassed after realizing I incorrectly rephrased what she was trying to say.
Additionally, when us fellows first arrived at our school, one teacher used an English lesson to introduce us to the students. She had us share a little about ourselves, and then gave the children an opportunity to ask us questions. One student’s hand shot up and he blurted out, “Do you know Obama?” Before I could even answer, another student replied, “No but I know Bamba!” For those who don’t know, Bamba is a delicious peanut flavored Israeli snack. Well played child, well played.
All in all, communication struggles and language barriers do make the job infinitely more difficult. While I do not possess a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification, I do have the opportunity to really be in the trenches and learn through experience. Most importantly, though, I have the opportunity to be in the trenches and come back with hilarious stories.