«Jewish Observer»
January 2002
5762 Tevet

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It is well known that our children in Israel speak two languages. At home they speak Russian, whereas outside they speak Hebrew with their friends. Suddenly it comes out that repatriate children know well neither Russian nor Hebrew ...

This was the topic at the seminar "Language and thinking" that was held not long ago.

Jakov Mozganov, the "Mophet" school network creator says:

- A person can not think if he can not express his thoughts correctly. Thinking is closely connected with speaking.

We can't give stupid books to our children because in early age they adopt words, images and meanings very quickly. We're trying to solve the problem of all-round education by suggesting our students different humanitarian and scientific courses.

Lilya Markovich, the principal of a MANAT school in Ashdode, comments:

- Children master the "street" language easily. They know enough words to satisfy elementary needs and understand children's TV programs, which use the most primitive language. Ask repatriates' kids to read some texts, answer questions and write a paraphrase. Most of the children won't cope with this task. If they don't take private lessons in Hebrew and do not read books, they have really serious problems with the language although Hebrew is their native language.

Olga Linnik, the manager of the MANAT department in Rehovote, says:

- Children do not understand the literary language. They do not know many words, known by children of the same age in educated families. A child should be taught the language, known best in the family (I mean the Russian). The task is to make children feel the variety of meanings, understand word nuances, build correct sentence constructions.

Students began to study Hebrew grammar in upper school, when spelling mistakes are very difficult to be corrected. Children do not know parts of the sentence, do not understand the necessity of punctuation marks, can not talk about the simplest things.

It doesn't matter what language the child thinks in. More important is to formulate his ideas, to select proper words. If he can do this, he will be able to do this in any other language.

Hebrew orientation is wrong, it will make our children ignorant, because there are very few families, in which Hebrew is spoken as fluently as the native language is.

Evgenia Kolchinskaya, a teacher of the Russian language as a foreign one, responds:

- The change of language changes consciousness. On the one hand, the loss of the native language retards child's development. On the other hand, bilinguism catalyzes it. We have to save our language, especially for our children to be clever. It will also help them to master Hebrew.

Olga Linnik adds:

- Parents have to think about their contribution in their kids' linguistic and mental development. You can use different methods: from learning poems by heart and reading Russian book to the team-study of the Israeli children's literature.

"Vesti", Israel

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