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The Importance of Parents Learning Hebrew: Enhancing Communication and Cultural Pride

Updated: 6 days ago

Encouraging Immigrant Families to Embrace Hebrew for a Brighter Future

At UAB, we frequently hear from immigrant parents in Israel whose children speak Hebrew as their mother tongue. Despite this, many parents do not prioritize learning Hebrew themselves. Common excuses include, "My husband is Israeli; he can talk to the teacher or take them to the doctor," or "Learning Hebrew isn't a priority for me," as mentioned by a mother of a 5-year-old. This raises a critical question: Don’t you want your children to be proud of their parents for speaking the formal language here?

Embracing the Language for Effective Communication

Effective communication between parents and their children's teachers or doctors is essential for the well-being and academic success of the children. Studies show that when parents cannot communicate effectively in the dominant language, it often falls upon the children to act as interpreters. This role reversal can lead to feelings of embarrassment and frustration for both parents and children. Latino parents who spoke only Spanish reported feeling significantly less listened to by their children’s doctors compared to those who spoke English, underscoring the importance of language proficiency in maintaining parental authority and effective communication (Read more).

The Cultural and Emotional Benefits

Encouraging parents to learn Hebrew can foster a sense of cultural pride and belonging within the family. When children see their parents making an effort to learn and speak Hebrew, it not only helps with practical matters but also boosts the children’s self-esteem and pride in their heritage. The World Bank highlights the importance of teaching children in the language they speak at home to eliminate learning poverty and strengthen cultural identity (Read more). By learning Hebrew, parents can better support their children's education and social integration.

Overcoming Challenges

We understand that learning a new language is not easy, especially for adults. However, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Studies indicate that children in multilingual households may feel pressure to assimilate linguistically and culturally, which can lead to reluctance in using their home language publicly due to fear of being judged. By learning Hebrew, parents can bridge this gap, creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for their children (Read more).

A Call to Action

We urge all immigrant parents to prioritize learning Hebrew. Not only will this improve communication and reduce misunderstandings, but it will also set a positive example for your children. Show them that embracing the formal language of Israel is a source of pride, not embarrassment. Let’s work together to create a community where every parent feels confident and capable of supporting their children's educational and social development.

Learning Hebrew is not just about language acquisition; it is about building a stronger, more connected family and community. Join us in making Hebrew a priority for every parent at UAB.

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