Bible OL as a tool for first year Hebrew

Picture of Nicolai Winther-Nielsen
Bible OL as a tool for first year Hebrew
by Nicolai Winther-Nielsen - Thursday, 23 November 2017, 2:36 PM

I have just returned from very exciting meetings at the annual conferences for Bible scholars in the US. Bible OL was successfully introduced to large groups of fellow Hebrew teachers.

I was invited to give a presentation on FIRST YEAR HEBREW at the ETS annual meeting in Providence on the 16th of November. The chair of a session on Biblical Hebrew, John C. Beckman, had invited 4 teachers to illustrate how they teach First Year Hebrew at their institutions.

  • FLIPPED CLASSROOM: Terry J. Betts in "A Morphology-Heavy Flipped Classroom" presented a very interesting and effective flipped classroom with boards and learning groups in full use at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The course implements the philological and non-linguistic approach developed by Russel T. Fulller at Southern since 1998. The presentation very well illustrated how you can run a fine-tune and effective flipped classroom.   
  • INTENSIVE SUMMER COURSE: Miles van Pelt in "A Finely Honed Summer Hebrew Program" at Reformed Theological Seminary shared evidence on how effective a full 8 week long summer course is in terms of bringing students from all over the world through a richly varied Hebrew classroom through the highly regarded Pratico and Van Pelt learning resources. One of my students has used their material for online learning and sent me to conference to thank Miles for his great material, so I gave him a hug and listened with great interest. Apparently a Summer course may be more effective than a traditional school year approach (see also the response we have from one student of Greek HERE).  
  • LIVING LANGUAGE TEACHING. Randall Buth, the founder Biblical Language Center and longtime proponent of using active dialogue in Hebrew for more effective learning. In his presentation "Incorporating Living-Language Techniques within a Traditional First-Year Hebrew Course" he suggested ideas on how traditional teachers can add live components to their courses. His main message is, however, that this is only a temporary redemdy, and all students should come to Israel for 9 months and attend his program for living-Hebrew language communication. Teachers will eventually discover that a flipped classroom, intensive summer courses outside Israel or online teaching cannot produce the same results as his Communicative Language Teaching approach. Given his challenge of traditional approaches, I personally would just love to see true blind tests of learnign outcomes from his classroom compared with results in other modern text and exegesis oriented classrooms in terms of speed, accuracy, atomatization and other aspects of proficiency as well as recall and lifelong use of Hebrew for Biblical studies. I still treassure my training for working with the text and my benifit from speaking Ivrith (at toddler level, unfortunately) and I look forward to see great results from merging modern approaches and from new technology and the ever growing pile of textbooks on Biblical Hebrew.   
  • GLOBAL ONLINE LEARNING. For my own presentation of First Year Hebrew I was specifically asked to focus on my experience from Africa. I made a recording of my presentation of "Corpus-driven Hebrew Language Learning: From Madagascar to the End of the World" I got a great response by Angelika Kaiser from Andrews University  who stood up in the discussion time and extolled the use of Bible OL at Andrews. They have had great results and students really enjoy learning with fun though Bible OL in their blended learning classes.
Before and after my presentation I talked to a Hebrew teacher and Dean from a seminary in Lima who has a grammar and videos on Hebrew in Spanish and it interested in adapting Bible OL to his course material. I hope soon to have great news on a course for our Bible OL localization into Spanish.

I also mentioned our need for collaboration on Chinese Hebrew language learning, but I did not get any direct response on this call.