Teaching Hebrew by Making it Relevant

Many of those who grew up going to Hebrew school are to this day scarred by the experience. It was often boring, sometimes frustrating and almost always perceived as pointless. That is the problem. The problem was not that it actually was pointless; but rather, that it was perceived to be so. Therefore, if, as a teacher, you are successful in convincing the students of the true value of learning Hebrew and ultimately knowing Hebrew, it will be much easier to win their interest and maintain it!

There are a number of different reasons why learning Hebrew is relevant and you can pick, choose and expand on each one as it relates to you personally and your students when teaching Hebrew. Obviously, Israel is a major theme in any Modern Hebrew curriculum. You can get your Hebrew students involved in the discussion by asking who has been to Israel and who plans to go. Depending on the age of those learning Hebrew, and/or if you are already teaching in Israel, you can begin to go into more complex topics such as religion and politics. Once an interesting discussion has developed, you can bring the relevance into focus by explaining that all of the issues regarding Israel become even more relevant with a grasp of the language and for those planning to visit Israel, that knowing Hebrew will be a useful tool for them in their travels.

While not everyone is interested in religion and spirituality, for those who are, learning Hebrew is an extremely useful and relevant tool. For anyone wanting to learn more about Jewish thought, delve into ancient sources or investigate the beginnings of Christianity, knowledge of Biblical Hebrew and/or Modern Hebrew is crucial. Stressing this point can be a way to pique the interest of students who are less interested in politics and travel. No matter what method you use, stressing the significance and relevance of Hebrew is critical for any successful Hebrew teacher!

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Test yourself - how well can you manage in Hebrew?

How do you read the name of the following letter?

Do you recognize all of the following letters?
א – ש – ד – ג – ץ – ף - ס

Which of the following letters is not a special "final letter"?

How do you read the following word?

Can you differentiate between the following words and do you know what each word means?
שֶׁמֶשׁ – שַׁמָשׁ

How do you read the following word?

Which of the following words is not plural?

Complete the sentence:
אני ________ את הספר על השולחן

The meaning of the Hebrew word שְׁלֵמִים is:

Complete the sentence:
אֲנִי אוֹהֶבֶת _________ יִשְׂרָאֵל.

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