https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak

Completed Tree + My Hebrew Journey (story)

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Sorry if I went off topic on a few things, I just thought it would be interesting to read.

I was born in the US to Israeli parents. As you know, Israelis speak Hebrew. Many parents who come to the US speak their native language to their children. This was half-way the case with me.

Although having been born in Israel, my father did not speak Hebrew as much as he spoke Yiddish. He spoke it in school, with friends, with teachers, and with family. It was his everyday language. My mother, however, only spoke Hebrew. Both of them did not know any English when they got married.

My parents moved to the US and got married straightaway. At ages 20-21, they started having children. Now, my mother did not speak any Yiddish, my father's family did not speak a lot of Hebrew as it was considered a טמאנה שפראך, or a language that should not be spoken (unholy/impure), Explanation. My mother had to learn Yiddish on her own to be able to communicate with her in-laws. My father learned Hebrew by talking to her every day.

Because of this, my mother did whatever she could to practice Yiddish. She would listen to story tapes, read books, and speak to us only in Yiddish. Therefore, my parents did not speak to us in Hebrew, rather in Yiddish. My father spoke to us in Yiddish as it was easier for him. As we lived in a very Hasidic neighborhood, we grew up Hasidic. We went to Hasidic schools and were brought up speaking Yiddish. Yiddish was my first language and I started to learn English at about 10 years old. As my sisters were learning English way before that, my mother switched to speaking English with them. After a while, she switched to speaking English with us (boys), as well.

The only time I would ever hear Hebrew was when my parents were trying to keep things a secret from us. So I did know a few words from pestering them about certain things. I begged them to talk to us in Hebrew and to teach us Hebrew many, many times, but they refused, saying "it's too hard to teach", or "I don't have time to teach it to you". Consequently, my Hebrew was nearly nonexistent until about 2 years ago. I knew perhaps 30 words when I started the Duolingo Hebrew tree.

While I was still in the beginning sections of my tree, I went to Israel with Taglit (Birthright). I had been doing Duolingo for about 2 months before that to get some practice in before my trip. I was amazed at how much I learned by the time I went to Israel. In Israel, I was one of the only ones who spoke some Hebrew on the trip, so whenever they needed someone to translate something in a restaurant they'd ask me. (Thank you, contributors, for making the restaurant vocabulary at the beginning of the tree ;)! )

I have completed the Duolingo tree in a full year's time. I started as soon as it came out, but I gave up very fast as I was not catching on. I then tried again about a half a year to a full year later and gave up again. I tried for the last time, really setting time away each day to learn Hebrew. I did a few Duolingo lessons a day until I finally completed the tree.

Recently, I took a placement exam for Hebrew in my college. I placed into Intermediate Hebrew II. I am currently taking that class and they are teaching material that is in the middle of the Duolingo tree! They are teaching the constructive state and the past tense, currently. In addition to understanding almost everything in the class, I feel like I understand a lot more Hebrew when I hear it randomly.

I also still continuously ask my mother to talk to me in Hebrew for the practice. She starts speaking to me in Hebrew and I respond in Hebrew, after a while she forgets and switches to English. Welp, I guess the only time I will have to practice is when I will have the chance to visit Israel again <3

1 week ago

36 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas_Wesley
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את אומר את זה וזה יפה שומר?
(I did that from memory, let's see how I did!)

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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Hm? ahaha you wrote "you (female) say (male singular) this and this is nice guard" ;p ahahaha

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas_Wesley
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whoops! how about: את אומרת את זה וזה יפה
I think I was trying for "you say this and this is beautiful"... but I don't remember now. It's late and I've had a long day, hahaha. Anyway, it was a great story.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells
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Congrats! I really enjoyed reading your story.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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Thank you!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/shuaisbeast

wow

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WarriorCleberz
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מזל טוב תַלמִיד!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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תודה!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Sharon275517
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Congratulations! What a wonderful story!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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Thank you :)!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sofa4ka
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כל הכבוד שלא ויתרת על לשון הקודש! חודש טוב ושמח!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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תודה רבה! :)

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Meital640
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Wow! It's an amazing history,thank you very much for sharing!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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Thank you :D

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ReneeSumme1
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Congratulations! I'm really happy for you! That sounds so amazing!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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Thank you! :D

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TJWphd
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thank you for sharing!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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Of course :)

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BeCreative__
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You are amazing. Thanks for sharing your cool story! I am going to try and make a bunch of progress like you!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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Thank you! :)

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mazzorano
Mod
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כל הכבוד ישראל, עלה והצלח!

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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!תודה רבה

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/volumniax
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That's fantastic! May I ask, with you speaking Hebrew with your mother now (sometimes :) ), how does the rest of your family react? Are any of your siblings interested in learning Hebrew as well?

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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Well, I'll be honest, my parents divorced and I live with my mother, brother, and sister. My sister lived in Israel for a while so she speaks Hebrew better than me (obviously), but she is impressed with my Hebrew because I have corrected her many times. My mother is impressed with my Hebrew any time I say something random like "where is the laundry". My father just laughs about it, idk why :p

6 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lazaru5
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Congrats! That is an amazing story, thank you for sharing!

6 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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Thank you!

6 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/leolevy111
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וועלכער חסיד ביסטו?

6 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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?אונז פלעגן זיין סאטמר. וועלכע ביסטו

6 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RayEstonSm

I became interested in Hebrew from the Great Courses Plus. First, although I am agnostic, I became interested in the Great Courses lectures on the Holy Land and the Bible. Then, a couple months ago, they added a new class on Hebrew. That class is very comprehensive, but not as interactive as DuoLingo. So now I've watched just the first couple of Hebrew lectures on Great Courses Plus and I've done the first couple of Hebrew lessons on DuoLingo. Also I've used various internet sources to learn the Hebrew alphabet. But for now, I'm putting my Hebrew studies on hold (or slow motion) while I watch more Great Courses Plus lectures on the Holy Land and the Bible. But I will eventually speed up my Hebrew studies. My next language, after Spanish and Hebrew, will probably be German. After that, maybe Yiddish. I wasn't sure if Yiddish was worth learning, but your post convinced me it is, because Yiddish is the first language of a whole community within the US.

6 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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It is also used in pockets of communities within Canada, a lot of people in Israel speak it, and all over the world there are a few speakers (I find them all over!) Spanish was amazing to learn, I want to learn German too because of how similar it is to Yiddish. The only problem is is that I don't know the genders of words because in my Yiddish we use "die" for all words - not "der/das/den/dem".

6 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ArabJew

It's amazing story. I also will complete in approximately 1year.

5 days ago

https://www.duolingo.com/israelpolasak
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Nice! I would be looking forward to it :)

5 days ago
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