The first time I arrived here, my greatest worry was the language. The Filipinos take pride of being knowledgeable about the English language. For most, the fluency of the language is like second to their mothertongue. But here in Israel, they are using their own language, Hebrew. Passed on from generation to generation and survived through milleniums and they take pride in their language.
I was told that not everyone in Israel can understand the English language. This had been the redflag for me.
So knowing that Israel has their own language and not being able to understand it is a threat for me. How will I communicate well with Israeli people if I don’t speak their languge? How will I go around and follow directions if I can’t read it? Even to the simplest tasks like going to the grocery, riding the bus, or going to places and not to get lost is so scary. The feeling of dread was always at the back of my mind.
But thankfully, I was proven wrong. My employer and her family speaks English fluently. Most of the people in our Kibbutz speaks English quite well. The schools had also started to teach the English language at school so more and more Israelis understand it. From time to time that I’ve encountered the need to ask someone but they don’t understand English well, they still try their best to give me comprehensible replies.
And what’s more astonishing is my own improvement in learning the Hebrew language. I started to recognize words and phrases and put sense to their meaning. Although it is awkward to hear myself speaking in Hebrew, I started to learn words, phrases and simple sentences.
The Hebrew language is hard to learn in itself, but reading is harder. Instead of the romanized alphabet that we use in the English language and also in our Filipino language, Hebrew has their own Alephbet and a whole lot different way of writing. First, they write and read from right to left. They have a block print and cursive styles of writing. They use nikkud (the dots and dashes) to indicate vowels.
Language barrier is scary in the sense that it unbalances our comfort zone. But like anything foreign and unfamiliar, as time goes by, you become familiar with it. And familiarity brings back the balance of our comfort zone.