A quick guide to high school academic lingo

A 3-yechidot math textbook. (courtesy)
A 3-yechidot math textbook. (courtesy)

It’s that time of year again in Israeli high schools. Summer is creeping up, and kids in school- especially grades 11 and 12- are very busy taking their matkonot and bagruyot, as well as choosing megamot for next year. While this can be- and usually is- very stressful for students and their parents, sometimes it can be alleviated if your child receives hatamot or hakalot such as tosefet zman.

Huh? Blank stare? If you have no idea what I just wrote, you are not alone. For a native English speaker and Olah-Chadasha-Forever such as myself,  it can be difficult to understand what the teacher and rakezet are talking about at the asifat horim– the parent/teacher meeting which happens every few months. I still copy and paste entire messages from the class Whatsapp groups (k’vutzot Whatsapp) into Google Translate so that I can be sure I haven’t missed even one word, even though I have been through all this already and my youngest is finally about to start junior high.  There are so many words and phrases which are thrown around in Israeli classrooms,  it can take months and even years to get them straight. If you are a parent of a high-school-age student, especially if you are a new -or old, as in my case- oleh/olah, you could probably benefit from a glossary of the Israeli high school academic lingo. Here is a list of some common words and terms that you should know (and if you get used to using them, they will soon roll off your tongue- I’m serious!):

(Note: Many of these terms you will be familiar with from when your children were in Yesodi– primary school.)

  • mechanech/etteacher
  • shichva– grade
  • chativat beinayim– Junior High School (7th-9th grade). Often called simply chativa.
  • chativah elyona– High School (10th-12th), also called tichon.
  • tichon– high school
  • chalon– free period (literally “window”)
  • machatzit– semester
  • rakezet or rakazgrade/department coordinator
  • yoetzet or yoetz– guidance counselor
  • mazkira or mazkirut– secretary, main administrative office
  • takanon– dress/behavior code
  • maarechet sha’ot– class schedule
  • luzeluach zmanim, daily schedule; calendar
  • tichnun sh’vui– weekly plan (often sent out by the school or teacher the week before)
  • mivchan– test
  • luach mivchanim– tests schedule/calendar
  • luach chufshot vacation schedule/calendar
  • tigbur– enrichment/extra lessons in a specific subject, usually before the matriculation exam
  • bagrut– matriculation exam. Bagruyot are the national exams which are taken at the end of the year or semester, beginning usually in 11th grade.
  • moed bet a student’s “second chance” to take or retake an exam/bagrut, scheduled on a specific date.  Sign-up is required.
  • matkonet– pre-bagrut exam which counts towards a portion of one’s final bagrut grade
  • ha’aracha chilufit– alternative project/assignment which also counts toward the bagrut grade
  • magen the grade which combines the matkonet, the ha’aracha chilufit, class assignments and attendance. The magen score is added to the grade of the bagrut exam to give the student a final grade.
  • hakalot and hatamot– leniences and special adjustments given to eligible students. These may include extra time to take a test (tosefet zman), additional points added to the final score, oral exams, and other accomodations.
  • sha’ot partaniyot– extra tutorial hours provided in school, either one-on-one or in a small group
  • Mashov– the phone app where students and their parents can find all the assignments, class schedules, homework, notices, marks, grades, etc. This is accessed using the student’s teudat zehut and school/grade, in addition to a personal password for privacy.
  • megama/megamot– electives or course majors. Students choose at least one to study intensively, usually beginning in 10th Grade.
  • yechidot limud (or yechidot for short)- points of study, based on levels. Academic subjects in high school range from 1-5 yechidot, with 5 being the most difficult. (Many subjects are 3, 4, or 5 points, such as math and English. English speakers who take the Dovrei Anglit English class take 5 points).  The level of difficulty of a bagrut exam corresponds to the number of yechidot of the course.
  • tziyun– mark/grade
  • teuda– report card. A teudat bagrut is the matriculation certificate received after one graduates from high school, if they have completed and passed all of their bagrut exams and requirements.
  • mesibat siyum graduation (yay!)

The list above is obviously not comprehensive. It is just meant as a quick guide. Feel free to print! (Thank you to the Naale and Nefesh B’Nefesh websites for assistance).

Wishing everyone a happy Shavuot, and a smooth end of the school year.

About the Author
Chana Resnick Pinto made aliya in 2005 and lives in the Sharon area of Central Israel. She has a BA in English from Yeshiva University and an MSEd from Bank Street College of Education in New York City. Chana works at Eric Cohen Books in Ra'anana and loves living in Israel. She encourages everyone to stop and smell the flowers and always appreciate the small things.
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