Online Hebrew Learning: The Pros

5 min read
Abigail Zamir, Citizen Café Hebrew teacher
Abigail Zamir, Citizen Café Hebrew teacher

When Citizen Café was founded in 2015, it was designed to be an on-campus only Hebrew school, led by passionate individuals that taught at the heart of Tel Aviv. But nowadays, 80% of our students learn online! And our community is ten times bigger than it was at the start. This incredible growth proved to us that learning online is effective, and that we must have done something right if we managed to reach out to so many people around the world. So what are the major advantages of learning Hebrew online with us? In the next few paragraphs I’ll try to review some aspects of it, but the rest you’ll have to discover hands-on by yourself!

Online Hebrew Learning

A Hebrew Learning Community

As I mentioned before, Citizen Café started as an on-campus Hebrew school until the pandemic hit. When it did, we had to think on our feet in order to allow our students to keep learning – especially through these difficult times. The first thought was how to maintain a sense of community, where people meet and learn and grow together. We believe that learning together as a group – a team even – is much more powerful and effective than learning on your own. Hebrew is such a unique language that it has to be taught in a safe environment that’s welcoming and fun. A place free of judgment, where you can learn from each other’s mistakes and always have a laugh about it.

Once we moved our courses online, we suddenly realized we can open our courses to people from all over the world! There are varied reasons for picking up Hebrew outside of Israel: having an Israeli partner or children in Israel, having a jewish background and wanting to reconnect with your roots, being able to speak with Israeli colleagues at the workplace or just a mere fascination with the language! This move made our community so much bigger and more diverse – we have students from Australia, Turkey, Canada, France, Peru, India, and the list goes on.

“I Think It’s My Best Studying Experience Ever”

Andrea Amarante, one of our students from Lucerne, Switzerland, started learning at Citizen Café in the first level – Red. Today he is in the tenth level, Indigo, and plans to continue. When asked about his experience at Citizen, he replied:

“I have been studying Hebrew at Citizen Café for about two and a half years, for reasons of purely personal cultural interest. In recent years I have been lucky enough to meet many people who, like me, have attended online courses, masterclasses and practice groups, for the most diverse reasons. People who are moved by a great interest and love for Israel, its stories and its multifarious cultures. Citizen Café is a real melting pot where you can feel at home with very special people. And when it happens to meet live (it happened for me twice already, and not in Israel), it’s really like meeting someone you know well, a distant relative you love, and it’s a real joy!”

Being a part of a community doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in the same room. It means having a common goal and supporting each other in the process of achieving it. Intimate conversations, learning about each other through photos and debates, playing games in Hebrew, and sharing your personal connection to the language – are only some of the tools we use at Citizen Café.

How is Our Method Different from Other Methods?

Adapting our method to the small screen opened the door to new opportunities, especially enhancing and improving already existing features of the method. Without revealing too many secrets, here are some benefits of our online courses shared by Noeat, Head of Education:

The Mute button: “Allows students to repeat sentences in Hebrew while others are speaking, doubling and even tripling the students’ speaking time.”
Breakout rooms: “Working with Zoom’s breakout rooms allows our students to get to know each other better, and form personal connections. In a smaller group it’s easier to share personal stories. Eventually this element got incorporated into our Campus lessons as well.”
Share-screen: “This option allows us to incorporate music and videos into class, creating a much more interactive and culture-relevant lesson.”

Efrat Chen, Co-Founder of Citizen Café and Director of Hebrew, adds:
“The principal decision of the educational team of Citizen was that the online classes won’t be a dull, faded version of the live classes – but that they would be just as great. We’ve always worked hard on our content and method, creating high-energy classes with maximal engagement of our students – especially online. Thanks to our amazing and dedicated teachers, this aspiration turned into a reality.”

Online Hebrew

Making the Most out of Your Time

Life can sometimes feel like a never ending To-Do list. Running from place to place, running errands, writing emails, constantly dropping off and picking up your kids. Maybe you’ve thought about learning Hebrew many times, but you simply haven’t had the time. It takes time to get into your car, drive through traffic – or with public transportation – get to the school, then make it all the way back. If this is your case, and it stopped you from learning before, Online Hebrew courses are a great solution for you. Classes in Citizen are 90 minutes each, twice a week, and you can log on to them from any place around the world – as long as you have a solid internet connection!

The option of online learning allows our students to fit classes more easily into their schedule: In the mornings right before work\university, in the middle of the day between other tasks and meetings, or even at night. Citizen Café’s method is very dynamic, energetic and fun, in order to keep our students very much engaged. In a world full of distractions, maintaining focus is difficult, and that’s why the constant participation of our students is so important. Learning Online is a great way for you to take a pause from your busy day, and do something wonderful for yourself 🙂.

That’s all for now! If you’ve made it so far, I salute your attention-span, and hope you have a slightly broader image of what we’re all about. If this essay tickles your curiosity, all you have to do is book a free online-session with one of our fabulous teachers, and learn some more in person.

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