SBH focuses on Hebrew language learning and the study of biblical texts, making maximal use of the linguistic environment. 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 SBH 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.
The program integrates modern Hebrew around 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.``
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 many 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). Stephen Krashen, a widely recognized researcher and theorist in second language acquisition studies says, “TPRS is better than anything else out there.”
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 very first lessons.
Students who successfully complete the 9-month program will receive a graduate certificate in Biblical Hebrew. Qualifying students may also continue to obtain an MA in Classical (Biblical) Hebrew by completing several additional courses offered either on site or online through our partner universities.
SBH is an affiliated program of the University of the Holy Land and of Corban University, universities accredited by the Asia Theological Association and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (USA Dept. of Ed.) respectively.
Participants should preferably be sponsored by a Bible translation organization or project, although an independent participant may also apply. Each participant should have the ability to read basic English, but will be permitted to present research in other languages including: English, French, Spanish, Russian, and Hebrew.
A prerequisite is the study of the series of Living Biblical Hebrew: Part One before coming to Israel in order to prepare for rapid learning in an oral environment. Listening requires about 40-50 hours of preparation. This must be completed two months prior to the course start date, as a pre-condition to final acceptance. All participants must also sign the Student Language Pledge.