Writing Essays in Hebrew

This semester I am taking a Hebrew class.  At this level, we are beyond simply learning the language–we are now learning the language through reading israeli novels, doing presentations, and writing essays.  This class is very similar to what we could consider to be an “English” class…we just happen to be speaking Hebrew and learning a little bit of grammar.

Whenever we write essays in this class, which is quite often, I am always hesitant to consider this writing an essay.  I’m not really sure why it is, but as I am working on a Hebrew “essay” due after Thanksgiving break, I find myself comparing my writing process for this Hebrew essay with an essay that I would write in an English class.  The goal of this essay is basically the same: analyze specific parts of a movie while making a larger argument.

One major difference, however, is that Hebrew essays typically have a word limit in 200 words.  While I know that essays can be written in 200 words, I find that it is much harder to make a point and give adequate examples in such a little amount of words.  Another different in the process of writing the essay that differs from writing an English essay, is my attention to grammar.  Because English is my first language, I do not have to actively think about my grammar as I am writing.  Sure, there are always grammar mistakes that I catch when editing, but not to the same extent as my Hebrew essays.  When I write Hebrew essays the grammar is on the forefront of my mind, maybe even more than the content itself.

These two major difference make it is hard for me to consider my Hebrew essays actual essays.  While the grammatical issue is simply due to Hebrew not being my first language, I think that writing an essay in 200 words seems “un-essay-like” to me because I am not used to it.  In hindsight, writing such short essays is probably a good thing…it teaches me to be concise!

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