Learning Hebrew with “Stick Around”

by Admin on February 26, 2012

Last week while reading through some business news on LinkedIn, I came across Stick Around– language stickers for the home that can help us become more fluent in Hebrew. Being a 3-time Hebrew ulpan drop-out, I was thrilled to see a product that better addresses my learning style and at a very reasonable price. I’m anxiously awaiting my order’s arrival and will try to remember to report back to you soon on my impressions.

In the meantime, I spoke with the creator of Stick Around and after enjoying hearing the story of how this product came about, I asked him to share it with you too. So, here is a guest post by Amit Turkenitz, owner of Gingerhood.com

I spent my childhood being sent to private English teachers by my parents to perfect my English and give me an obvious edge in a world that is clearly turning more and more global. Little did I know of the downsides that perfect English can cause.

I met my wife, Jo, while I was traveling in Vietnam. We clicked and a year later she found herself packing up her life in Australia and moving to Israel. Israel was a great deal of fun for her at first, and we were definitely having a good time, but as time slowly passed, her “100 days of grace” started fading away and she started facing the hard fact of life: She is not a tourist – she needs to blend in.

Many people in Israel speak great English, so tourists get by easily. This was perfect for my wife, seeing as she didn’t have to struggle when going to a café, taking a taxi or asking for directions on the street. Whenever we met with friends, the conversations were mainly held in English. And of course there was me: I spoke English to my wife, because we met in English and we knew each other in English. All of the above left no incentive for my wife to learn Hebrew.

It all seemed peachy at first, but once you scratched the surface – you could see that her lack of Hebrew skills was problematic. Finding a job for my wife was difficult and limited her options only to the English-speaking job market. Any peripheral service she needed turned out to be handled only in Hebrew – health services, banking, authorities, etc… and finally – even the closest friends started getting tired of “working hard” to have English conversations and drifted to speaking Hebrew amongst themselves in big social situations. My wife couldn’t avoid it any more: she needed to acquire Hebrew skills.

Ulpan was a good start, and definitely pumped her up with the energy to learn. But as grammar kicked in and learning became more complicated, Hebrew became hard work. And with hard work comes excuses… “the teacher is boring!”, “why do I need to learn these ridiculous texts?” and so on. I tried thinking of ways to engage my wife into the Hebrew language. I didn’t mind the grammar mistakes as that can come later, I just wanted her to be able to follow conversations. I realized that more than anything else she needed vocabulary. That’s when I started filling our apartment with translation labels.

I made a long document of useful words for the things around us. Each word I wrote in English for her to understand the meaning and in Hebrew for her to recognize when she would see it. Then I added the link between them – a transliteration, a phonetic spelling in Latin characters to demonstrate the Hebrew pronunciation. Something like this:

I printed these labels and sticky-taped them to the actual objects that they describe. Every day I noticed more words that were missing (having fallen off), so I printed them, cut them, and taped them as well. It was a long process, but proved to be a rather helpful one. The labels were small enough not to overtake the space we live in, yet noticeable by those who needed them for learning.

Two years later, I introduced our product Stick Around – language stickers for home.

Stick Around contains 529 stickers to cover objects in five different living spaces: living room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and office. The stickers are made of high quality vinyl, so they do not leave any sticky residue behind. They arrive in a nicely designed recycled cardboard package, ready to peel and label and – most important – they are a frustration-free product for people struggling with Hebrew.

The product is designed and manufactured in Israel and can be purchased online (with free shipping) at www.gingerhood.com (which is our website, both my wife and I are gingers…) and also in a growing list of retail stores that appear in detail on our website. This is all to help you… stick around!

If you’ve used Stick Around, please tell us (in the comments below) if and how the product helped you.

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