Teaching Biblical Hebrew


Source: Biblical Archaeology Review Blog


An audience-participation paper on Teaching Biblical Hebrew was delivered at The Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature held in Boston in November, 2008. Helene Dallaire, part of the staff of a three-year project on communicative learning entitled CoHeLeT (Communicative Hebrew Learning and Teaching) sponsored by the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion., demonstrated a mock classroom setting of a first year Hebrew class in a seminary setting.


The three-year CoHeleT project , which has applied modern Second Language Acquisition techniques to teaching Biblical Hebrew to seminary students, has found that retention with the Communicative Language Teaching method is much better than retention in the usual grammar-based inductive or deductive method. Bodily actions (called TPR, Total Physical Response), speaking, singing, and sight recognition are all involved in the communicative classroom method and aid in memorization and retention.

Future Plans of the CoHeleT Project

Completion of first-year materials
Plans are under way to extend current materials to encompass an entire first-year introductory course in Biblical Hebrew.

Technology-Assisted Language Learning
A variety of technological tools are envisioned to complement classroom materials. These include audio and/or video files corresponding to stories, vocabulary, and exercises used in class. Other possibilities include web-based reinforcement exercises.

Orientation and immersion workshop
To enable interested teachers to gain experience in communicative teaching, plans are being explored to offer a workshop in teaching methods. A significant immersion experience would be included as part of the workshop to develop confidence in speaking Biblical Hebrew for use in the classroom.

Updated: Feb. 12, 2009