TALMA: The Israel Program For Excellence in English


TALMA is an all-expense-paid summer of teaching, professional development, and networking in Israel for young professional educators aged 21-36. Each summer we bring more than one hundred teachers around the world for an unforgettable experience teaching English to low-income students within Israel, from Nazareth Illit and Migdal HaEmek in the North, to Jerusalem in the heart of Israel, Mitzpe Ramon in the South, and more. Meet like-minded educators who firmly believe in social equality, and that all children deserve access to an excellent education. If you are looking for an opportunity to spend your summer in a meaningful way, give back to Israel, and join what can only be called a transformative community, then TALMA is the experience for you!

Note: Currently, we only offer a summer program, but a year-round program is in the works, possibly for as early as Fall 2017.


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Yes, I recommend this program

This past summer I had the opportunity to teach English in Israel through the TALMA fellowship. I had never taught English to non native speakers, and had never been to Israel previously. I was nervous due to my lack of experience in that specific area but still wanted to apply because I felt that from my educational background and expertise, I could be flexible, adapt and really make a difference with the help of this program. Once accepted to the TALMA program, my hesitations faded. I found a safe and supportive environment that helped me grow professionally and personally. The program was efficiently managed, supportive and well organized. I was connected with professionals from around the world that helped me grow in all aspects of my life. TALMA was well balanced, allowing me opportunities for excellent educational experiences in and outside the classroom as well as many other amazing opportunities. I had time on the weekends to travel within the country and got to explore the best of what Israel had to offer. I enjoyed the professional development that TALMA provided as it was relevant to my experience in Israel but also applied to my teaching career back in the US. TALMA is the perfect program for educators who aspire to achieve excellence in their teaching, are adventurous, and have a desire to make a difference in the lives of ALL students. TALMA provided me with plenty of tools, professional development, mentors and leaders who supported me throughout the journey. I truly felt as if I was part of a family who cared for one another and collectively shared a common goal: to improve the lives of every student with whom we had the privilege of working with. This was the most rewarding summer of my life, I fully intend to apply to return next summer.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Do not be afraid to fully embrace the culture! This program grants you so many opportunities to thrive and enhance your life personal and professionally. However, you get out of the program what you put into it! It is not simply a vacation, if chosen you have a responsibility to the school and students you work with. If you do your best, give your best effort, and mentally prepare to be successful then you absolutely will have an unforgettable journey! YOU have to dedicate yourself to achieving your goals!
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Yes, I recommend this program

I was so beyond lucky to go on the TALMA summer and full year programs. Both programs were phenomenal experiences both in and out of the classroom. I am so grateful for the chance to have been a part of this amazing program that is bringing so much good to Israel.I was sad to have to leave the program early due to a broken leg, but they were beyond amazing that entire process. They supported me in ways I didn't even realize I needed. TALMA is more than just a program it is a family. Your life will be changed in such a real and amazing way. I am counting down the days until I get to go back on a TALMA program. The most important gift they gave me was confidence and growth as a teacher. I am truly endebted to TALMA for making me the person I am today.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Getting to visit Jerusalem and do a nighttime walking tour.
Yes, I recommend this program

TALMA, which started out as just a small summer teaching program, has grown year after year and become a major part of my life.

I co-taught fifth graders going into sixth grade with TALMA in the Summer of 2015 and 2016 in the Jezereel Valley up North. My co-teachers each year were a little bit different and assumed different roles in the classroom - discipline, planning, parallel teaching, etc. We were living in a hotel, dorm style living with one roommate. Meals and transportation were provided. We had experiences with social entrepreneurship and professional development as teachers throughout the summer, as well planned community weekends and free weekends to explore Israel on our own. As the summer program is growing, there are new opportunities arising to teach in different areas of the country, different types of schools, and to have different experiences through this amazing program.

After my second summer with TALMA, our wonderful director proposed a new full year TALMA program, TALMA 2.0. Offered to the alumni of the summer TALMA program, TALMA 2.0 is stationed in Mitzpe Ramon in the middle of Negev of Southern Israel. 15 of us teachers moved to the middle of the desert to an area that has VERY few, if any English teachers. Each of us is in a different school, or two (as in my situation). Unlike the summer program, we work with or without co-teachers, teaching whole classes, small groups, or individual students. Apartments with laundry, wi-fi, and a wonderful apartment-mate are provided with furniture. Transportation to school is also provided for us. One of my schools is in Dimona, about a 50 minute bus ride from Mitzpe. 8 of us go together in a mini-bus that drops us off and picks us up right from our schools. We are all provided a stipend for the year to cover other expenses (food for example). Once a week we head to Be'er Sheva for Ulpan (Hebrew class), provided by the Ministry of Education. We also had the opportunity to take a course at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, learning about where we live and the populations we work with. We have community Wednesdays where we meet up with our Israeli counterparts as well to do an activity whether professional or just plain fun! We also have had a number of weekend community events outside of Mitzpe to get to know the country as a whole.

As the year is rapidly coming to a close, I have fallen in love with Israel as a country, the people, the environment, all because of my experiences with TALMA and am excited to say that I am making Aliyah at the end of the summer! I have friends now all of over Israel and I am excited to start the next chapter . . .TALMA 3.0: Morim Olim!

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Yes, I recommend this program

As a TALMA teacher, you have the privilege to change the lives of children, adults, and entire communities through teaching and building authentic relationships. In turn, your life is sure to be changed as you learn about new cultures, new teaching practices, and new ways of living. All throughout the process you'll be supported by inspiring mentors and teachers. Additionally, through TALMA you will get to experience Israel as a person living and working here which allows you to get to know this beautiful country and rich culture in a new way. Every aspect of TALMA is a thoughtfully planned with love.

Yes, I recommend this program

I taught for TALMA last summer at an Orthodox school in Kiryat Malachi. I didn't know what to expect of the Israeli but was prepared for the worst, as warned by experienced participants. When entering my classroom, all the students stood up and waited until I asked them to sit down before they would sit. This was not the horror experience that I had mentally prepared for. My summer with TALMA continued to positively surprise me. I did not realize the impact 3 weeks of teaching would have. It was amazing to see the excitement and pride on the children's faces when they were able to communicate in English with me. They especially enjoyed teaching me Hebrew and laughed as I was unable to pronounce the words the were saying. Outside of the classroom, I experienced even more growth with TALMA, both professionally and personally. TALMA offers professional development and we had many seminars with social entrepreneurs, all of whom were inspiring and enlightening. They really showed me that anything is possible, and it all starts with an idea and believing in yourself. The social aspect of TALMA is another part of the program worth acknowledging. The friends I made through TALMA are now some of my best friends. The community weekends are so well planned and fun doesn't quite describe it. The meals (delicious Shabbat dinners), the activities (surfing) and the company is amazing. I cannot wait for TALMA 2018!

What would you improve about this program?
It can't be!


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Judith Goltz

Judith is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, where she earned her M.S.Ed in TESOL. She currently serves as a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia, and is beginning the transition to a career in International Education.

Why did you choose this program?

I initially chose to participate in the TALMA program for several reasons. Two of my greatest passions are education and travel, and becoming a teaching fellow with TALMA was a great way to combine them!

I am interested in pursuing a new career in International Education and Development, and joining TALMA was a great first step for me. I could "test the waters" in essence without leaving my current position as a teacher in Philadelphia, network with other young teachers around the world, expand my own understanding of global education, and enjoy a summer in Israel at the same time!

After my first summer with TALMA, my reasons for returning changed a bit. I learned so much about myself as a teacher and as an individual, but I also loved having the opportunity to make a difference in the Israeli students' lives by empowering them with an invaluable English language immersion experience. My return was less about me and more about the greater good.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Participating in TALMA was very easy in this regard! TALMA partners with a travel agency and logistics company to make sure everything runs smoothly throughout the entire experience. Our flights were booked (and paid for), all transportation was provided, and we were given all the tools we needed to be comfortable and successful on the ground in Israel.

TALMA offers different tracks. Some are more independent (like the one I chose to do in Jerusalem), and with others, more is taken care of for you. No matter which track you choose, everything is taken care of in some way. All meals are provided (if not physically, you receive a pre-paid credit card to use for food), transportation is clear (either using buses provided by TALMA or public transportation - again, paid for - in the larger cities), and all events are wonderful.

With TALMA, participants are given two free weekends and several free week nights to use as they please. The only time I had to organize anything on my own was when I wanted to do something special in my free time. I planned a few trips around the countries, and went out in Jerusalem almost every change I got! There are always people willing to help you plan excursions if you're interested.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

DON'T HOLD BACK! Teaching with TALMA is an invaluable experience. Use your free time to explore, soak up every moment with your students and Israeli co-teacher, reach out and make new friends, and take risks you may not have done otherwise. Go out and explore your city.

I now feel so at home in Jerusalem, almost like I have lived there my whole life! I like not feeling like a tourist.

In fact, last year, I took some tourists from Germany on a food tour of Jerusalem! TALMA offers a great balance between professional development, personal enrichment, and traveling fun - just take it all in and don't skip out on anything. It's all part of what is sure to be one of the greatest experiences of your life!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

When participants arrive in Israel, they receive a few days of professional development in one common location (usually Tel Aviv). There, we participate in workshops and seminars to help prepare us to teach in the Israeli classroom. Then, we split up and travel to our respective teaching locations (this past summer there were 5 locations, but TALMA is still expanding). There we meet our Israeli co-teachers, begin collaborating and planning, and get to know the city.

Once the program starts for students, we leave early in the morning to go to our respective schools (sometimes by provided transportation, sometimes public depending on your location). School days are Sunday through Thursday, and run from 8:00am-1:30pm.

After school, you are welcome to do as you please. Some people choose to stay at the hotel/apartment, some go out exploring, others out to eat, etc. There are 15 days of teaching. Like I said, there are two free weekends during which participants can plan their own excursions around Israel, and two organized weekends when teachers from all locations meet up for fun, professional development, and reflection. The program ends with a closing ceremony.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I had traveled quite extensively before I participated in TALMA, but I suppose I was most concerned about the conflict in the area and how that would affect us on the ground. However, once I got to Israel, not ONCE did I feel unsafe.

TALMA is in constant contact with the Embassy and takes all measures to ensure our safety and comfort. People are really open about the political situation in the area, and I am grateful to have learned so much about it from people who live with it every day.

Otherwise, my fears were all teaching related. I was very unsure about myself at first - the Israeli classroom is quite different from the U.S. classroom. But thanks to my co-teachers, I felt right at home after the first few minutes. The kids are wonderful, and I miss them every day!

What made this trip meaningful to you?

As I mentioned earlier, my initial reasons for participating in TALMA were rather personal. I was looking for a rewarding professional development opportunity to kick start my career in international education. I also couldn't pass up a free trip to Israel!

Having done TALMA for two years now, I can honestly say that I am honored to be part of a program that is changing the way the English language, and education as a whole, is viewed in Israel.

TALMA has, without a doubt, made a profound difference in the lives of the children who participate. I am so excited to see how the program continues to grow and improve!

TALMA has renewed my passion for teaching and learning, and has no doubt influenced how I define my role as a teacher. I have taken so much away from this experience, learned to reflect on my own teaching and experiences, and passed on the lessons I have learned to my students back home, as well. It's the program that keeps on giving!

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Debra Feinberg

Job Title
Recruitment Director
Over the past few years, Debra Feinberg has backpacked extensively throughout East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, teaching everywhere from Mumbai to Jerusalem. Today, Debra serves as Recruitment Director for TALMA, one of the education initiatives that helped shape her into the person she is today.

What is your favorite travel memory?

One of my favorite travel memories is from my time working as a JDC Entwine Fellow in Mumbai, India. Every morning began with a train ride from my neighborhood station in Byculla to the slum where I taught in a place called Kalwa.

After a hot and dusty journey, I'd walk until I came upon a shanty with dozens of tiny shoes piled outside, then step into the happiest place in the world: my classroom. Upon entering the room, I was met with fifty pairs of bright eyes and smiling faces, as my students stood at attention and shouted in sing-song, "Good morning Debbie teacher!" It never got old.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

After more than a year overseas, I'd just returned stateside, was needing a job, missing the community of travelers I'd met while abroad, and didn't quite know where to call 'home.' Then, a few weeks after my return, I received an email from TALMA stating that they were looking for an alumni of the Fellowship to serve as the program's Recruitment Director. Suddenly, the world seemed a little brighter.

AI'm not sure whether it's more fair to say that I found my position with TALMA at a time of uncertainty in my life, or that TALMA stepped into my life right when I needed it; but my work with TALMA changed me, giving me a fresh outlook on life, and the realization that a true community can surround you, support you, and love you no matter how far or close your physical coordinates are.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

As a program that is improving and expanding each year, we learn from our mistakes, we build on existing partnerships, and we bring back as many of our alumni as we can so that TALMA's students can benefit from their experience and know how. The best story I hear from return Fellows is one that I'm lucky to get to hear over and over again from our participants..."This summer was even better than last summer!" Those words are magic.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

The beauty of TALMA is that no matter which location you are in, you are part of one TALMA community - so while the scenery and student population you serve might look different from location to location, we operate the same program, with the same mission, schedule, and passion, no matter where it is you are placed. Plus, the beauty of TALMA is that you can return year after year and experience the program in each location...you don't have to choose!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

What I believe makes TALMA unique is that we turn Israel into a lab for Fellows to explore how an increasingly diverse and entrepreneurial nation devises innovative solutions to deal with deep-rooted and multi-dimensional social and economic challenges.

By living, learning and teaching together, our Fellows form a network of powerful and influential change makers who take the lessons they learn in Israel and bring them back to their communities around the world.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

The biggest factor in being a successful company is undoubtedly having a deep-seeded passion for your mission. Everyone who works for TALMA is passionate about Israel, educational equity, and social justice. In turn, we make a pointed effort to only bring others into our community who have a demonstrated history of embodying those passions.

When you can build a network of people who, first, share a passion, and then, share a powerful experience that works towards fulfilling that passion, you get buy-in, and when you have buy-in, success is sure to follow.