After graduating from the University of Illinois, Mark Pearlman wanted to spend time in Israel in a productive way. With the tentative plan of becoming a high school teacher, Mark believed that the Teach and Study Program (TASP) at Tel Aviv University would allow him to live in Israel for an extended period of time while developing his career and earning a Master’s degree.
In addition to taking classes on education and linguistics and observing English lessons in Israeli schools, Mark began an English-teaching internship at a northern Tel Aviv public school. Mark’s students easily reciprocated his own enthusiasm for teaching English. "English is a gateway to the Internet, computer games, television, and music," Mark says. "It’s hard to find children in Israel who don’t love English. And they know it’s a real privilege to learn it from an American."
Mark not only filled his lessons with American culture, but he also conducted them solely in English. By teaching small groups of children at a time, Mark was able to create a non-stressful environment in which his students could learn this new language. "One of my main goals was for the kids to have a positive learning experience," Mark says.
Word quickly spread about Mark’s successful teaching methods. His students’ parents began contacting Mark to privately tutor their children. Many of the parents conducted their work in English and understood the importance of strong English skills.
When Mark made Aliyah after completing TASP, he had enough students to support himself as a full-time private English tutor. As a result of the Ulpan that TASP provided its participants, Mark had a good grasp of Hebrew. As a result of the program as a whole, he had a core group of friends in Israel, too. "We shared many first experiences together – learning Hebrew, starting from kitah aleph, riding the bus, and getting cable and internet connections installed in our apartments. We also celebrated American holidays together," Mark says. "The other participants are still some of my best friends."
Mark came to Israel without the intention of making Aliyah, but as he formed a real life in Israel, it became a viable option. "TASP provided a great foundation for me to build the life I have now. I was given a stipend, a teaching position at a school, and the opportunity to make connections that I know I will keep for as long as I live in Israel."