Course Layout

Sample Syllabi

A few sample syllabi are provided to help you see how we arrange our courses. You may adopt or adapt any of the below for your own use.

Syllabi (3–4 credit hours)

  • Semester 1 (Word)
  • Semester 2 (Word)
  • Semester 3 (Word)
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Syllabi (2 credit hours)

Syllabi from courses we have taught in a two-credit format demonstrate how we adjusted for reduced hours. They also show how we fit quizzes in a one-day-a-week format while still allowing adequate time for presentation and review of concepts. Please note that the first semester pace and layout worked well, but the vocabulary was too heavy. In the second semester, we adjusted for both vocabulary and pace of reading the biblical text, which worked extremely well.

  • Semester 1 (Word)
  • Semester 2 (Word)
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Adjusting for Credit Hours and Semester Formats

We have taught LBH from two- all the way to five-credit-hour courses at both college and graduate levels. We have also taught in one-day/week, two-days/week, five-days/week, and online formats. The content presented does not change; the main difference is the amount of reading done in the classroom. Two things make this flexibility possible: 1) The amount of material the student is required to master is relatively small for each chapter; and 2) Translation assignments are measured by time spent rather than quantity completed so students can move on to a new translation assignment with each grammar chapter covered. The weekly setup and pace through LBH (grammar and workbook) remains the same regardless of the number of hours we meet per week. Read more

What we adjust is: 1) the depth to which we explain the hows and whys of the language during the lecture portion of the class, and 2) the number of hours we require students to translate each week. For example:

Standard Three- to Four-Credit Class:

With the exception of the first two weeks, which involve more lecture time, we cover a grammar chapter in the first 30 to 45 minutes of class time each week with the rest of the class hours devoted to reading text. Outside the classroom, we require five hours per week spent on the translation homework in addition to studying vocab and grammar. (When state standards required five-credit hours for first-year language classes, we had additional time for “Fun Friday” activities (see Additional Classroom Activities): reading from Tall Tales Told in Biblical Hebrew, guided sight-readings from Scripture, etc.)

Standard Two-Credit Class:

Every program has unique features, and this grammar intentionally allows space for that. In a two-hour setting, require three hours of translation each week while continuing to move on to a new chapter every week. Cover the grammar at the pace of one chapter per week but simplify some of the explanations. For students who need to understand how things work, that information can still be found in the grammar. For translation assignments, drop the book of Jonah (and its vocabulary) and slow the reading of Ruth to half-pace. When we did this, we had vocab quizzes every other week (half the vocabulary) and read Ruth through twice—once at a slow pace and a second time (using their previous translations) at a rate of one chapter per week.

Blended Classroom:

Another option is a blended classroom format, but we have not experimented with that yet. Because the LBH grammar is written with the self-learner in mind, we suspect that this textbook may work well in a blended format setting. However, we personally prefer to review the grammar concepts in class.

Weekly Layout

With the exception of the first two weeks that involve more lecture, we lecture on the grammar component in the first 30 to 45 minutes of class time each week. Karl presents concise lectures and then moves to inductive teaching in the text. Becky prefers lengthier, step-by-step instruction and student practice. The rest of the class hours are devoted to reading text. In teaching through different scheduling patterns, we have found that it is helpful to treat the material as weekly units as much as possible. In short, this means not beginning new material until students have been quizzed on the old, even if that means moving a quiz to the week after the material is presented. For more thoughts on when to schedule quizzes, see Tips for Quizzing. Read more

Grammar: 30 to 60 minutes per Week (including time to take a quiz)

If you keep the main elements of the chapter in focus, you can adjust the depth at which you discuss the details. (See lecture notes by chapter and additional classroom activities.) Remember, the grammar is written in a communicative style and the students can read it on their own. Let them take responsibility for some of their own learning and flesh out the specific features when you interact with the text in class.

Reading and Translation: All Remaining Course Time

Since the objective of learning Hebrew is to read the biblical text, we have found that the greatest incentive is to begin translating as early and as much as possible. Above all else, be sure you have the students read and translate the text. This element is counterintuitive to teachers who have learned through a different model. Always have your students read the text aloud in class (except when you are extremely pressed for time, but even then as much as possible). Reading aloud is the only way students will come to understand the text in Hebrew. It also creates a “safe” platform to make mistakes (imperative for language learning), and it gives a chance for the instructor to see what the student is assimilating.

Note: We represent two very different teaching styles and personalities. Karl’s tendency is to present short, academic lectures and Becky’s tendency is to strive for full comprehension of grammar before moving to the text. For the sake of our students, we both had to strive for a more balanced approach. Becky had to explain less and read more (in fact, some weeks students were so tired that she just showed the chart they needed to memorize and moved on). Karl had to learn to slow down and flesh out some of his explanations. We went from a program where students could either read or parse, depending on who taught their first-year course, to a program where students had well-rounded skill sets. They read enough to keep reading and understood enough grammar to find answers to what stumped them. In other words, they were equipped to be lifelong learners of Hebrew—regardless of their field of study or future career.

Lecture Notes by Chapter

At times, we find it helpful to use a template to guide the order of presentation and target specific helpful examples. We are including those here. You may adopt them fully or use them to develop your own notes. Sometimes students also request that we make them accessible so they can use them to take notes. (Note: Since the final editing of the LBH grammar resulted in some adjustments to the order of material, not all lecture notes are up to date. We will upload them to the website as we update them.)

Emphasize Essentials

Because of the amount of explanation in LBH, students will often feel like they are drowning. (Teachers themselves may find some information overwhelming or even new.) One way to guide and encourage students is to help them distinguish between the background details and the basic elements that they are responsible for in the first year. Remind students that the details are presented to help them grasp a larger picture of the language. Keep in mind that memory requirements for the entire year are limited to:

  • Vocabulary
  • Vowel rules 1–3 (Table 5.2)
  • Noun ending chart (Table 7.1)
  • Suffix chart (Table 8.2)
  • Qal paradigm (Appendix 6)
  • Four representative forms for each strong verb (Appendix 6)
  • Features of weak consonants in verbs (overview from chapter 24)
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Homework Summary

All homework assignments are included in the LBH Workbook. Assignments include vocabulary memorization, grammar exercises, translations, and daily oral readings. The workbook also includes all the answer keys for the exercises and translations. We require students to correct their own work before they submit it (see instructions in the LBH Workbook, pages 79–80). These assignments will be daunting unless you help your students understand the objective of each one.

  • Vocabulary memorization aids short-term memory.
  • Grammar exercises practice the application of newly learned material.
  • Translations are reading practice and exposure to concepts in context.
  • Oral readings provide at least one passage that feels familiar when read in Hebrew.

Language is communal in nature, and, not surprisingly, is learned best in relationship. While we encourage students to be invested in their own learning, we also urge them to take advantage of one another’s strengths by studying with their classmates. Homework can be done in groups as long as each person submits their own homework. Submitting answers arrived at together is not considered cheating. Accountability for the individual student is maintained through classroom interaction, testing, and oral readings, but during the semester, our campus is littered with weekly student-directed study groups as they work together to complete their assignments. We also train tutors to work on exercises and translations with students by providing encouragement, guidance, and asking leading questions (see Tutoring Program). The results of this community approach to learning are amazing.

Vocabulary Memorization

Located in the LBH Workbook, vocabulary lists consist of high-frequency vocabulary taken from the translation assignments. We strongly suggest that students be required to learn the vocabulary words the week before they use them in translation. Keep in mind that the main purpose of the weekly vocabulary lists is to get the words into short-term memory so that students can concentrate on grammar and syntax when translating. Vocabulary moves from short- to long-term memory through use and repeated review. Read more

Instructors and students sometimes worry about the amount of vocabulary assigned. Keep in mind that the concentration of learning occurs when students read the text. Without vocabulary acquisition, reading slows to a grinding halt after only a few weeks. Remind your students that the overall objective is short-term memory, not immediate mastery. If you are concerned about the amount of vocabulary, consider adjusting the weight you place on it while grading or adjust the way you test it. For example, we provide Hebrew words and only require the students to provide English definitions. Though we test vocabulary cumulatively, we place more weight on words from the most recent vocabulary list (see Tips for Quizzing). Since the goal is short-term retention, you might also consider matching quizzes. (When we tried that approach, we found that students got lazy and did not end up with adequate short-term memory. Thus, we keep our requirements higher but adjust how vocabulary affects their grade.) Do not panic if your students are overwhelmed. Just coach them on study practices, remind them of the rewards, and reassure them that your grading intentionally focuses on finding the balance between incentive (study!) and reward for the pursuit of knowledge.

Note: All infrequent vocabulary is glossed for the student in the translation. The disadvantage to this system is that there are some frequently used words that do not appear in the Joseph narrative. We add those words in the second semester lists so that by the end of first year, the student has memorized all verbs that occur 50 times or more and all nouns that occur 100 times or more.

Guide to Exercises

Located in the LBH Workbook, the exercises are designed to help students see how the grammar components are applied. This process also exposes students to the way memorized grammatical elements will appear in context. Although students have been taught all the facts needed to get the correct answers, remind them that they will make errors as they learn. Also reassure them that the exercises are designed to be a learning experience. Read more

We require the grammar exercises to be completed in the following format: 1) study the concept; 2) complete the assignment in pencil; 3) correct the assignment in pen; and finally, 4) highlight what they do not understand. We do not always get to review the assignments in class (reading the text trumps everything), but a teacher or a teaching assistant can answer the highlighted questions when reviewing the assignment. You may decide to review a few of the exercises in class if the whole group is struggling.

Guide to Translations

Starting in chapter 4, the students begin translating modified biblical text found in a graded reader of the Joseph story (Gen 37–50) in the LBH Workbook. Chapter 4 of the grammar concludes with a chart that helps students identify different verb forms until verbs are more fully explained beginning in chapter 11. Each translation assignment reflects the concepts covered up to that point in the grammar. The graded reader typically corresponds to a full chapter of biblical material each week. Most students will not translate that much in the allotted time, but we present the entire chapter because students continually amaze us with what they are able to accomplish. Read more

The translation assignments target what is known as the zone of proximal development (a concept developed by Lev Vygotsky). In other words, the translations provide the student with enough guidance to read just beyond what they currently know. Adjusting expectations so that homework is not a measure of performance, but a learning experience, is one of the secrets to student success. Since the objective is to gain exposure to texts, and through that to concepts in context, we encourage instructors to adopt certain guidelines for their students. (See pages 79–80 in the LBH Workbook.)

Adopt an acceptable time limit

Although some students will complete an entire translation, in our program, students are given full credit for spending five hours per week on their translation work regardless of how many verses they translate. Aside from relieving the students of excess work, this limit recognizes that everyone learns to read at a different pace. It also allows a teacher to gauge a student’s progress. Remember that there are times in the semester when they will all slow down, such as after the introduction of the different verb stems.

Require students to correct their own work

The time limit you choose (five hours a week in our program) includes time spent correcting their work against the answer key provided in the workbook. As noted in the workbook instructions (see pages 79–80), this process involves three steps: 1) complete the work in one color; 2) fill in blanks and/or correct their work in another color; and 3) use a highlighter to mark what they corrected but still do not understand. If possible, they are to word their question in the margin, but many students do not have vocabulary to express their confusion yet.

Note: The key to success in this process is helping students accept the foreign concept that you are not judging them based on what they “got right” on the first try, but rather on their engagement with the material. (An overflow of this principle is that if their performance is not based on initial accuracy or on quantity, you slowly remove any temptation to cut corners or to cheat. The student is then free to learn, even if it slows down the process.)

Move on to a new translation each week

In the first semester, we do not get to cover the entire chapter in class. However, since the translations are created by taking biblical texts and adjusting it to the students’ growing exposure to grammar, moving to the next chapter provides even more advantage than if they just completed the last chapter. Think of it as learning a language through immersion; while you only catch part of the conversation in the beginning, you grasp more and more with each exposure. Also the freedom to move on lessens the students’ feeling of being behind.

Grading the homework assignments

The homework is awarded full credit if the three steps are fulfilled and if the lesson is either completed or the student spends adequate time working on it. Usually a simple glance confirms completion. As you record their translation assignments, take note of any highlighted areas that may not have been addressed in class and either jot down a short response in the margin of their work or roll the question into a subsequent discussion where appropriate.

Note: In the past, we struggled to get translations graded and returned to students in time for them to review them for a quiz. We streamlined the process by recording translations and exercises from the preceding week while the students are taking their quiz. Because we read aloud in class, students are still held accountable to having the work completed on time, and because of the self-correcting element, work does not take long to record.

Guide to Daily Oral Readings

Oral reading is an important component of our program. Aside from reading Hebrew aloud whenever we translate, we have students read the same biblical passage aloud five days a week during the semester. The passages we use in our program are provided in the LBH Workbook (see pages 361–65). Practicing the same passage over and over helps students work on their pronunciation. The objective behind the daily oral readings is to provide the experience of reading a passage so often that students begin to hear meaning as they read in Hebrew (without having to think about the English). Read more

In our program, we focus on Genesis 1:1–5 and Deuteronomy 6:4–9 during the first semester. We work through these passages the first few weeks of class, allowing the students to practice pronouncing consonants and vowels while we explain meaning. Students should practice these passages on their own by reading them through one time each day (five days per week). They record their participation weekly by reporting how many days they read the text aloud (students cannot make up for missed days by counting multiple readings in one day). Each student meets with us once during the semester to read through the passages orally (this is not translating, but reading). We grade the reading as a pass/fail, allowing students to redo the assignment until they pass (while encouraging them not to waste our time with failed attempts). During second semester, we suggest focusing on either Genesis 22:1–14 or Exodus 20:1–17.

Interesting note: For ten years straight, every student’s oral reading participation percentage has been within five points (half a letter grade) of the student’s overall course grade at both the midterm and final points of the semester.

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Quizzes and Exams

While we concentrate heavily on creating learning opportunities, we use quizzes and exams strictly for holding students accountable and for measuring their reading progress. In order to facilitate your creation of quizzes and exams, we have provided resources for inserting vocabulary and translations. Currently, we have the vocabulary database available in Excel format, and you can use the Hebrew texts provided in Word to excerpt text for translation questions. Sample quizzes and exams are available on request.

Resources for Building Quizzes and Exams

  • Vocab Database Semester 1–2 (Excel)
  • Vocab Database Semester 3 (Excel)
  • Joseph Text (Word)
  • Ruth Text (Word)
  • Jonah Text (Word)
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Tips for Quizzing

Quiz vocabulary before it appears in readings

Include vocabulary on a quiz the week before it appears in their reading so that students have a strong vocabulary base for their translations. (For example, we quiz chapter 4 vocabulary with chapter 3 grammar.)

Treat the material as weekly units

Quiz weekly material before moving on to the next grammar presentation, even if that means giving the quiz first thing the following week.

Allow for each stage of learning before giving a quiz

Allow time for the presentation of material, the chance to interact with the material (homework and asking questions), and time to study their corrected work. In a Monday through Friday format, we were able to present grammar on Monday and give a quiz on Friday. In a two-day-a-week format, we present material on day one and discuss it on day two after they have had time to practice it and ask their questions. Then we quiz the material first thing the following week. For a one-day-a-week format, it gets more challenging (see Semester 1: Two-credit syllabus), but we are always intentional about allowing for each step.

Provide clear, predictable parameters for content

For us, this means quizzes only cover grammar concepts from the latest chapter and translations from that week (which are usually covered in class).

Quiz vocabulary cumulatively, but focus on recent material

We include ten words from the newest list and five from all previous lists. The weight of the student’s grade is on the new material, but there is still benefit in reviewing their old lists.

Separate the final exam into two parts

Separate the final exam into a vocabulary portion and a grammar/translation portion. The vocabulary portion is given the week before the rest of the exam. This format gives students the opportunity to focus on smaller blocks of material and helps to ensure that their vocabulary is in place by the time they start studying for the grammar and translation portion of the final.

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Grammatical Diagrams

In our program, we use the book of Jonah to introduce students to grammatical diagrams and thematic outlines. After translating each chapter, students complete a diagram exercise for that chapter. Each exercise introduces a new step in the process of making a full grammatical diagram and thematic outline and asks the students to complete more of the process at each stage. Each assignment is formatted with the Hebrew in Unicode (compatible with any computer). We view this process as supplementary and introductory. Thus, we focus more on instruction than on student mastery. (In other words, we give full credit for student completion and our feedback to the student focuses on encouragement and moving the student forward in their understanding of the process.)

Grammatical Diagram Exercises

  • Diagram (Jonah 1) (Word)
  • Diagram (Jonah 2) (Word)
  • Diagram (Jonah 3) (Word)
  • Diagram (Jonah 4) (Word)
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Using Diagramming Exercises

Since Jonah is primarily narrative and fairly simple to diagram and since our goal is exposure and practice, the assignments should not require a large investment of time. (In our program, we return to diagramming in Ecclesiastes and Deuteronomy, and it helps the students to have already had an introduction to the practice.)

  • Jonah 1: Process completed—student reviews.
  • Jonah 2: Diagram complete—student creates thematic diagram.
  • Jonah 3: Clauses separated—student indents clauses and creates thematic diagram.
  • Jonah 4: Hebrew text provided—student completes entire process.

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Although this may seem advanced for first-year students, these exercises:

  • Help the student to see the bigger picture of the biblical text
  • Force the student to shift from focusing on words to seeing clauses
  • Move the student from seeking syntactical arrangement (which can still be nonsensical) to seeking logical meaning (e.g., “Jacob served Laban to Rachel” versus “Jacob served Laban for Rachel”—example from a student reading in Weingreen’s Hebrew grammar)
  • Focus on the relationship between clauses to show the author’s message (grammatical) and identify the main ideas (thematic)

As students begin creating their own diagrams, the main problem they encounter is the tendency to view parallel main clauses as subordinate simply because one event leads to another. As a result, clauses that should be aligned at the right margin end up indented due to the students’ perception of cause and effect. An illustration that may prove helpful for distinguishing between main clauses and subordinate clauses is to think of clauses like separate slides in a film. They have a natural cause-effect relationship simply by occurring in a fixed sequence. However, if the clauses are different scenes in the film’s progression, students should regard them all as main ideas and place them at the right margin of the diagram or dialogue box. True subordinate clauses should present details that fill out the image within a single event. For example, “He left, and he avoided the situation” represents the same event as two scenes—one in which he is leaving and another in which he is avoiding the situation. Although related, the author leaves the relationship between the events unexpressed. By contrast, the sentence “He left so that he could avoid the situation” includes a subordinate clause that modifies the main action and paints them as a single scene. Even though both expressions convey the same event, in each case the author guides readers in their perception of the event.

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Additional Classroom Activities

Honestly, we are not super creative in the classroom. We enjoy reading the biblical text and the laughter and discussions that arise. However, we have found some practices that work extremely well. We do not plan these assignments into our syllabi, but we use them to change things up a bit at various points throughout the semester. We offer these suggestions with full knowledge that many of you are far more creative than we are.

Whiteboard student practice

We find it very helpful to get students out of their seats and working on a whiteboard at least a few times per semester. Read more

Supplies: Lots of whiteboard space and a few dry-erase markers. Since classrooms do not always have enough whiteboard space, we use removable whiteboard cling sheets. Because we reuse it, one package has lasted nine years.

Community: Have students work in groups but require that each person takes a turn writing. That way no one is humiliated if they do not know something, and the students can help each other to think through what they do know. If you pair students who struggle with those who succeed, both benefit greatly if you have the one who knows the answers practice asking guiding questions.

Objective: The goal is to move the student from memorization to understanding and to help them discover how what they have memorized translates into the broader Hebrew language. For example, having them use their memorized qal paradigms and niphal representative forms to create a full niphal paradigm on the whiteboard shows the simplicity of a process that can be difficult to explain with words. In that 15-minute exercise, those students learn the underlying principle for creating every strong verb from the qal.

Moving from known to unknown: During this process, create opportunities for each student to succeed. If students are really struggling, move to the most basic concepts. Even if they are trying to write the qal paradigm but have not bothered to memorize it yet, they can recite the first form or, at the very least, try to write it as you say it. Again, start with what they know and then help them move to what they do not know. If they can write the consonants of the 3ms perfectly but guess the wrong “a” vowels, show them that they only need to learn those two small marks to know the first form. Or if they can hear the “a” vowel, but do not know which one, see if their vowel rules will help. Provide as many prompts as they need to recite the applicable rule to you, then let them see the link. By the time students get to the verbs (where we usually use the whiteboards), they have a breadth of knowledge. They just have to be shown how to use it. A little encouragement goes a long way in overcoming their fear that this foreign language is beyond their grasp.

Reading for comprehension rather than translation

Some days we skip translating and focus solely on comprehension. Working from the text prepared for that day, a student reads an entire verse aloud in Hebrew. Read more

Rarely is the whole class able to catch the meaning of the full verse. Thus, the student reads it a second time, phrase by phrase, but only as far as the class is able to follow the meaning in Hebrew. Once they lose the meaning, the verse is read again. Often that means rereading a phrase over and over (in Hebrew). In our classes, when anyone loses the train of thought (signaled by raising a hand), the reader will back up and start again. Usually each read-through results in increased understanding, although sometimes students have to ask questions about words that stump them. When answering those questions, avoid parsing or defining and find other ways to trigger thoughts that will help the student recognize or remember the word. Students love to help with this, using everything from charades to puns. This process is repeated until everyone in class comprehends an entire verse. Obviously, on these days we cover far less text, but this practice counteracts the belief that learning an ancient language must be restricted to “decoding.” In fact, we encourage students to practice this technique on a single verse from their translation homework each week.

Fun Friday Activities—sight-reading something new

A few times each semester we read something new and unexpected with the students. For the student there is added fear because they have not prepared, but there is added safety as well because we don’t expect them to be prepared. Read more

We also handle the room more casually, still encouraging the students to read the Hebrew and tell us what they know but filling in data for them more quickly or prompting them to speak up as a class. The main texts we use on these days come from Tall Tales Told in Biblical Hebrew or some of our favorite biblical or extrabiblical passages (see Supplemental Readings). Texts from Tall Tales are graded in terms of difficulty, but despite some unfamiliar vocabulary and some rather awkward wording, students are always encouraged by what they can read and understand. Honestly, sometimes they just feel relieved that their theology or biblical knowledge is not involved in every translation. When we choose biblical texts, the difficulty level is often far beyond their ability (Karl is known for introducing readings from the book of Job). But with the teacher as a guide, the students have plenty to contribute and are introduced to some new grammatical, syntactical, or lexical features in a nonthreatening environment. Though introducing students to texts far beyond their reading ability may seem counter-intuitive, it is a widely recognized and highly effective practice. Just as parents are encouraged to read chapter books to preschool children and thick novels to middle-schoolers, your students will enjoy your guiding them through texts that they love but cannot yet read for themselves.

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Tutoring Program

A few years ago, we began a Hebrew tutoring program here at Multnomah. Initially, we were hoping it would help us meet the needs of first-year Hebrew students—most of whom needed encouragement more than academic help. The result far exceeded our expectations, not only helping beginning students, but also allowing us to invest in the growth of our advanced students and contributing to a unique sense of community on our campus. Here we provide a sample invitation letter and a typical tutoring schedule.

  • Sample Invitation Letter (Word)
  • Sample Tutoring Schedule (Word)
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Each year we invite students with more than one year of Hebrew to join the tutoring program. The only requirement is that they volunteer one hour per week to be available for students at a consistent time and place of their choosing. Read more

Hebrew tutors are also invited to a weekly meeting where we discuss issues of pedagogy, grammar, reading, scholarship, theology, interpretation, and life. Here are some things we have learned along the way:

Students can be hesitant to reach out for help. Having tutors show up in your classroom to introduce themselves helps make the tutors seem more accessible.

Tutoring is not just for struggling students. Encourage advanced students to meet with tutors so that they can be challenged outside of the classroom.

Being a tutor is not just for the elite. We have found that the perfect tutor is one who loves the language and sincerely cares about others (even if they did not get high grades). We invite most students who complete first-year Hebrew to consider joining the tutoring program. Often those who struggled more are ready to tutor during the second half of the year (after reviewing the grammar in third semester).

Our tutors are allowed to make mistakes. We assure the tutors and remind those who seek them out that these students are still learning. If the tutor is not sure about an explanation, just have the student check in class.

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Teaching Tips

Never mistake a tool for the goal

The goal of learning Hebrew is to read for comprehension. Pronunciation, parsing, and identifying syntax are all tools to aid in that task, but those things are not the goal in and of themselves. Encourage students to practice parsing when they translate, but also allow them to read large sections without stopping to parse the verbs if they find they are comprehending what they read. Allow parsing to move from a guide to a skill that is used only when needed to enhance or confirm meaning.

Teach students to become learners

The LBH grammar presents all kinds of data that can help students learn to read, but that data will not help them if they do not understand how to use it. For example, most students struggle desperately with parsing, but any student who has made it to second semester has all the skills needed to answer questions that lead to the parsing answer. Learn to ask guiding questions so that they can move from knowledge to comprehension. As you do that, you also model that the key to learning is asking the right questions. Sometimes you can teach at multiple levels at the same time by prompting advanced students to ask helpful questions—or to ask any question that you then translate into a helpful question for the student who is trying to find the answer. I find that students know more than they think they know, and often the task of asking themselves the questions to move through each step translates into their ability to apply the same method when they get stuck on a quiz. In parsing, helpful questions include: “What could I take off the beginning or the end of this verb?” or “What is the root?”

Have fun with Hebrew

We have a few Hebrew “quirks” that our students seem to love. You probably have a few of your own.

A Night at the Pub: We imagine the historical development of Hebrew words (lesson five and following) as taking place during conversations ancient scholars had when they met together at the pub. This helps us to sympathize with the seemingly random changes while also demonstrating that these changes were confined to a particular time. For example, one week they decide to change vowels, the next week they shift the accent, etc. Once a change has pervaded the language, it will not be undone. The result is that each week some words are affected and others are not.

Hebrew Never or Hebrew Always: Also popular with students is our use of “Hebrew never” or “Hebrew always” to explain a rule. Karl uses the words of Captain Jack Sparrow to explain that Hebrew grammar rules are “more like guidelines.” Becky talks about how “every Hebrew rule has an exception—except the rule that every Hebrew rule has an exception.” Every “always” and “never” is qualified as a “Hebrew always” or a “Hebrew never.” So pervasive is this talk that students suggested we name the grammar “Hebrew Exceptions and All Their Rules: A Night at the Pub.” But the teasing about “never” and “always” helps them to grasp the “living” elements of language and allows an outlet for some of their frustrations with learning Hebrew.

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