As per ACTFL guidelines, 90% of the biblical Hebrew training is taught in the language itself, already at beginning and intermediate levels. Language learning professionals agree that this is the most effective approach.
This is unique to the School of Biblical Hebrew.
Throughout the course the focus is clearly and consistently on biblical Hebrew and the careful reading and studying of biblical Hebrew texts within their linguistic, geographical, cultural and historical setting. The focused study of biblical Hebrew within this context deepens understanding and enables retention for future use in a way that could not be accomplished if taught primarily in another language.
The school teaches perspectives of discourse linguistics throughout the biblical Hebrew courses. This provides the linguistic sensitivity that translators need to evaluate the significance of why a biblical author would choose one structure or phrase over another. This essential component in the training of translators is threaded into each of the biblical Hebrew language modules.
Language instruction utilizes a variety of techniques drawn from current research in the field of second language acquisition (SLA), so that learners find themselves in a language-rich, meaning-focused environment with lots of opportunities to interact with one another, negotiate meaning, and communicate ideas all in biblical Hebrew. Some techniques include picture storyboards, Total Physical Response (TPR), role-playing, and Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS).
These language teaching techniques and questions and answers in Hebrew on the biblical texts fill the classroom with understandable biblical Hebrew as the oral medium from the first lessons. As Stephen Krashen (widely recognized researcher and theorist in second language acquisition studies) comments, “TPRS is better than anything else out there.”
The program integrates modern Hebrew with the biblical Hebrew classes. The modern language is the most efficient framework for internalizing the structure of the biblical language, thus accelerating the language learning process.
Biblical Hebrew is not a complete language, and so modern Hebrew can be used when discussing texts to cover any gaps in the biblical language, without needing to resort to other languages. Modern Hebrew also gives participants access to valuable modern Hebrew commentaries on the biblical texts.
Dr. Aaron Hornkohl, Hebrew Language Officer, University of Cambridge, says:
“While I have taken a handful of excellent biblical Hebrew courses with teachers who imparted foundational and/or seminal lessons, my own ability to read, analyze and teach the language and literature of the Bible is more a result of linguistic fluency gained thanks to the study of the modern tongue. This is for the simple reason that actually learning Hebrew has proven far more useful than merely learning to talk about it.”
``Actually learning Hebrew has proven far more useful than merely learning to talk about it.``
The school reinforces Hebrew use in daily life, beyond the classroom. This program provides a unique living environment, in which Hebrew is used at meals, in travel and in daily routines among hosts and students around the housing and in the surrounding environment of modern Israel.
The course focuses on Hebrew language learning and the study of Bible texts, making maximal use of the linguistic environment. The school is therefore an intense language program that is designed to complement other training, affirming that the study of cross-cultural communication and translation theory and practice may profitably take place elsewhere.
The school’s program includes field trips to biblical locations, allowing students to directly observe the significance of the geography and physical artifacts while reading the relevant Hebrew texts. Descriptions on site are taught in basic biblical Hebrew and “easy” (modern) Hebrew, as necessary.
Field trips will include various sites and museums, and classroom teaching will cover cultural configurations of ancient life in Israel, bringing to life key Hebrew terms for translators.