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Learning Hebrew in Jerusalem

Learning a new language is a great way to enhance your gap year experience.

Learning holidays are a fast growing sector within the tourism industry. Whether you go abroad to learn Italian cooking, how to play Flamenco guitar the Spanish way or to do the belly dance like a Turk, international learning courses are a unique and enriching experience.

Increasingly, more and more students are choosing to learn a language on their gap year.

Learning a foreign language in the native country will help you learn more quickly and more naturally. Being in the country increases the speed with which you pick up the language and immerses you in their culture because you have no choice but to speak the native tongue.

You’ll be surrounded by people speaking the local language on the streets, on TV and the radio. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet people from completely different cultures and socialise with them. The chances are you’ll probably end up being good friends with a lot of the people you meet during your learning experience.

When you return home, your new language skills will be a welcome addition to your CV and it’s also nice to have something extra from your gap year travels.

An added incentive for learning a language abroad is the possibility of getting work teaching English in a foreign country. In order to be an English teacher in many parts of the world all you need to have is a degree and TEFL qualification.

Jo Gubran tells The Gap Year Travel Guide about her experiences learning and teaching in Israel

“I always wanted to combine my gap year with learning Hebrew and I believed that the quickest and easiest way to achieve that would be to take a course in Israel. I did a lot of research online before travelling to find out information about the courses available and to read about other people’s experiences in Israel so that I felt well informed about the country.

The key is to find out as much as you can about the country you are visiting. I did a lot of research into the culture so that I knew what to expect once I got to Israel. I also picked up a phrase book from my local bookshop and learnt a few simple words and phrases so that I had a basic understanding of the language before I arrived.

Once I got to Israel everything seemed a lot more informal compared to England so it was relatively simple to get enrolled onto a course. I studied Hebrew in the northern town of Nahariya which is located on the coast. It was such a great experience to finish a day’s studying and head straight to the beach which was about a two minute walk from my classroom.

After completing my five month intensive Hebrew course I worked for free in a local restaurant to practise my Hebrew. This was an amazing experience – the Israeli people were so friendly and supportive and I made so many great friends that I still keep in touch with.

While working in the restaurant I was approached by a few customers asking if I could help their children learn English, so I began teaching a few local children on a voluntary basis, helping them with their English homework and their English grammar.

This was a completely new experience for me as I had no previous experience of teaching. It was quite challenging, but also fun and rewarding when the children learnt new vocabulary or grasped a new principle.

Going to Israel was one of the best decisions of my life. I learnt a new language, made loads of new friends, and have a million memories that I will never forget.

I really recommend travelling abroad to the native country to learn a language. You get to use the language on a daily basis when travelling around the country so you pick it up at an amazing pace. You not only learn the language, which looks great on your CV, but you also get to experience a totally different culture and experience a whole different way of life.”

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