Studies of immigrants around the world always show that knowing the language is a key factor in successfully integrating into society. But while in Israel new olim are entitled to study Hebrew for five months at a subsidized ulpan, not all have the time or the ability to do so, while for others the course is not enough. And, of course, these ulpans are not available to non-immigrants resident in Israel. For dozens of such people, of all ages, backgrounds, and mother tongues, IDC Herzliya’s intensive six-week summer ulpan is the right program at the right time.

The ulpan was launched with the aim of helping people acquire or improve their Hebrew in a focused manner and in a short time.

French businessman, leader of the French community and chairman of IDC Herzliya’s International Friends Pierre Besnainou and his wife, Evelyne, made aliyah just two years ago, but with busy workdays a long ulpan was simply not an option for them.

“Summer Ulpan makes a lot of sense. It’s a period in which we usually work less, or go on holiday. For my wife and me, it was a perfect opportunity,” Besnainou said. “The ulpan gave us one more chance to better integrate into Israeli society. IDC’s ulpan is also unique because it’s situated in a wonderful campus, and you feel like a young student. It’s a ‘cure de jeunesse.'”

IDC has partnered with the Israel Student Authority, Ministry of Aliya and Immigrant Absorption and Ministry of Education to ensure top-quality teachers and a proven syllabus for the course. Classes fuse students from different backgrounds, countries, cultures and ages, with the result that students range from young olim and tourists to veterans seeking to improve their language skills. Ivan Cardenas, 28, is model, dancer and personal trainer who made aliyah in 2013 and has attended every IDC Summer Ulpan since. This year will be his fourth. “If you want to be part of any country, one of the most important things that you need is the language,” he said, explaining that returning to the course improves his skills further each time. “The beginning is hard for any new immigrant, but with the language you can extend your options and integrate into the community as quickly as possible. At IDC’s ulpan, the teachers are on a very high level and you can feel and see the effort that they put into their classes. The teacher-student relationship is a very important element of IDC’s ulpan and really sets it apart from others.”

Naomi Tzur, 21, is a first-year student at the Sammy Ofer School of Communications. “I moved to Israel from Canada one and a half years ago to be closer to my family here,” she said. “My parents are Israeli and my entire family lives here. It was always a dream of mine to study at IDC and I’m glad that my dream came true. I found out about the Summer Ulpan from the acceptance booklet and thought it would be a great experience to improve my Hebrew and meet amazing people, and I was right. Right from the first day I met people from all over the world. What really made the ulpan unique was that the teacher made Hebrew fun to learn. I was really motivated by the fact that there were many students who were not from English-speaking countries. “

Lauro Brand, a new immigrant whose daughter Patricia is a student at IDC, will be taking part in this summer’s ulpan along with his daughter. “I chose to do IDC’s Summer Ulpan as it’s very well-known and recognized as a high-level ulpan, very intense, with updated methodology. It’s also an interesting opportunity to get to know new people and make new friends. I think it will give me a wider vocabulary, help me to learn from others, and give me confidence to use Hebrew in my day-to-day activities, instead of escaping to English,” Brand said. “I think IDC’s brand and infrastructure together with the young people around its campus help to create an environment that stimulates the learning process and opportunities to expand your interactions and social life, without the feeling of being just another student in a crowded class for a long period.”