After more than a decade of providing curricula in biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek, we are excited to offer our first book in Aramaic: Living Christian Aramaic: Introduction Part One ! As you might be aware, Christian Aramaic, also commonly known as Classical Syriac, is a different dialect of Aramaic from that found in the Hebrew Bible / Old [...]
Special guest post by Jordash Kiffiak, co-author of Living Christian Aramaic Syriac is not merely the dialect of Aramaic that provides learners with the largest body of Aramaic literature, including a lengthy catalog of Christian texts written in a Semitic language and related to the Bible and the earliest followers of Jesus. Syriac also [...]
On January 3rd, a review of BLC's "Living Koine Greek Introduction Part One" was posted on the blog "Priceless Eternity." While the reviewer is anonymous, the blog "is run by a college student... currently aiming for a major in Pre-Seminary Bible and also Mathematics," and I am assuming that the same college student wrote the [...]
I first met Peter at SBL's annual meeting in 1997. A true friendship was formed that has covered the past fifteen years but has now been sadly cut short. Peter was interested in seeing students study Greek and Hebrew without going through a second or third language to their mothertongue. I was interested in seeing [...]
The BLC/FPU workshops are providing the field of New Testament studies with a unique opportunities for professors of Koine Greek. The community and environment created at these workshops is literally the only place where the field can experience what spoken fluency in Koine Greek may offer to the field. As such, the testimonies of the professors present should not be dismissed off hand.
It's hard to believe that already a week has gone by since the end of BLC's second Koine Greek Fluency Workshop. For those of us involved in the planning and/or the instruction, it was obviously a very busy time for us. I won't recap all that took place, as a detailed summary has already been [...]
This is a guest blog by Paul Nitz on Learning Another Language Through Actions , expanded 7th edition, by James J. Asher, Originator of the Total Physical Response known worldwide as TPR. Paul teaches Greek in Malawi and will be attending the Fresno BLC workshop this summer. Comments are welcomed: I had been looking for [...]
Students at our ulpans often ask about the relationship between speaking a language and scholarship. The question arises because most in the related academic fields do not currently advocate or practice speaking the language (and we are all greatful for the generations of scholarship in both Biblical Studies and Classics), yet we at BLC and [...]
I've been reading about reading again. A quote from a national report on literacy research caught my eye and seemed appropriate for general discussion on a blog. "It is not enough to teach language-minority students reading skills alone. Extensive oral English development must be incorporated into successful literacy instruction. The most promising instructional practices for [...]
Bar Koseba (Bar Kochba) and Modern Hebrew Today: Speaking a Language as a Window into an Ancient Language
Many processes in a language are basic to the human species and can provide insight into speakers of the past. Today when we speak Hebrew fast it is common to ask something like “ra’ita ’ta-nehag?” or more Tel-Avivian “raita ’ta-naag?” Did you see the driver? ראית את הנהג? The marker “et” את is swallowed up [...]
A group of sixteen facilitators and participants recently gathered in Jerusalem (Dec 28, 2011-Jan 6, 2012) to speak Koine Greek, while reading select New Testament texts associated with Jesus in Jerusalem and visiting the ancient sites connected with those narratives. The group gathered in Jerusalem's Old City for over 50 immersion Koine Greek hours, interacting [...]
This past SBL conference, a short video clip was shown (a second time - it was first presented at the SBL conference in Atlanta the previous year) as to how it is possible to introduce the ו''ו ההיפוך (conversive waw, narrative waw, etc.) concept to a class using TPR. Since there have been requests for [...]
I've been reading Frank Smith, Understanding Reading, A Psycholinguistic Analysis of Reading and Learning to Read, fifth edition, Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,1994. It is nice to be reading a fifth edition. That says that there has been some previous usefulness and that the author/publisher is trying to keep up. More germane to the [...]
At the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in San Francisco, CA, Brian Schultz presented a paper on "First Steps to get Started in Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)." In his paper, he presented three options as to how instructors of biblical languages can begin incorporating some aspects of CLT into their curriculum.
As a result of the BLC's Koine Greek immersion programs, and especially the Workshop for Instructors this past summer in Fresno, CA, there has been growing interest in a song written and composed by BLC's Sharon Alley. See for example this thread on the b-greek list. Here is an original recording of the song sung [...]
A couple quick anecdotes. Last year I interviewed a few of my students to get their thoughts about my biblical Hebrew course taught using Communicative Language Teaching. The one student had the following comment: Learning Hebrew has been easier, so far as to say that I don't translate it. Like when I was learning French, [...]
A while back I wrote my own report on what transpired at this past summer's Greek Workshop held in August 2011 in Fresno, CA. I don't know how I missed it until now, but a couple weeks ago Fresno Pacific University posted its own independent account of the workshop. Wayne Steffen (editor of FPU's [...]
Last week I had to give a talk to my colleagues, the faculty of the School of Humanities, Religion and Social Sciences at Fresno Pacific University. I chose to speak on the importance of teaching the biblical languages and why I teach biblical Hebrew differently than the traditional way. In order to help me, I [...]
Frank Smith, one of the foremost psycholingists of our day, has spent much of his time studying the psychology and mechanics of reading. For those of us involved in the instruction of biblical languages, where our stated goal is that our students be able to read the Bible fluently, his research is most relevant. I just finished reading a collection of his essays entitled "Unspeakable Acts, Unnatural Practices". Based on the research he shares in those essays, I suggest at least four ways instructors of biblical languages can adapt their teaching to help their students learn to read more efficiently.
In my last post, I posted a video clip of one of my class sessions for beginning biblical Hebrew. One of the accusations sometimes leveled at us who try to teach using Communicative Language Teaching is that we are not using/teaching biblical Hebrew but modern Hebrew. While it is true that "slip-ups" are possible, generally [...]
The video clip below is from the first year Hebrew class I am teaching at Fresno Pacific University. It is from the 8th class period of 50 mns each (if one counts the first class period in which all I did was hand out syllabi and explain the dynamics of the class). The point of [...]
Daniel Streett, whom I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time last year at SBL, has recently written a series of blog posts on the state of Greek studies in the academy. It is not pretty. To wet your appetite I will only mention a test he did with about 30 Greek profs [...]
From August 3-11, the Biblical Language Center (BLC), in association with Fresno Pacific University, led a fluency workshop for instructors of New Testament Greek in Fresno, California. The effort to renew the speaking of New Testament Greek was the first of its kind in North America. To ensure the highest quality possible, the workshop was led [...]
A common objection to the communicative approach to teaching biblical languages is: "All we are aiming at is being able to read, not speak, the language." However, Frank Smith in his book "Reading without Nonsense" suggests that in order to truly read fluently, one has to depend less on deciphering the printed matter, and more on a background of already acquired knowledge. Though he does not highlight fluency as part of that body of "already acquired knowledge," it is presupposed throughout (indeed, it is unlikely that a non-fluent English speaker would be reading his work in the first place). It would seem, therefore, that without fluency, it is impossible to read effectively for meaning.
I've recently (re)read an article sent to me this past summer entitled "Preparing Latin Teachers for Second Language Acquisition," pp. 184-191 in Teaching Classical Languages (Spring 2010) by Robert Patrick, PhD. This online peer-reviewed journal can be found here, and the article in question here. While the BLC does not at this point provide resources [...]
Question: I want to read the Hebrew Bible//Greek New Testament. Why is there so much listening in the BLC courses if the purpose of learning Hebrew//Greek is only for reading? Answer: Lots of listening and speaking will make you a significantly better reader of a new language. There are several reasons for using extensive listening [...]
First Things, published by The Institute on Religion and Public Life, an inter-religious, nonpartisan research and education institute whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society, just posted an article entitled "Why study biblical languages?" In the post, the author Nicholas Frankovich highlights the difference between savoir and [...]
Last year in the Greek immersion workshop in Galilee we were able to view some inscriptions in situ. The inscriptions are fun to read and provide a good learning experience. They can even be viewed over the internet. I've uploaded a picture of a text. Can you read any pieces of it? What can we [...]
Biblical languages are usually taught using a Grammar-Translation approach, where one learns grammar rules and vocabulary in order to translate a text into one's mother tongue. The Biblical Language Center, however, purposely avoids GT in favor of the principles of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). Here are 10 reasons why.
Student motivation to learn and desire to invest even more time learning biblical Hebrew does not seem to be a problem for these students using the "Living Biblical Hebrew" curriculum. They planned a biblical Hebrew week-end retreat.
The following is a little long for a note, but hopefully fun.There are several ironies in the spelling of Σαμαρεια/Σαμαρια in our Greek texts.Readers of United Bible Societies Greek text and the Nestle Aland text will be familiar with the following spellings:Σαμάρεια (the place), andΣαμαρίτης (a person of the place, male)Σαμαρῖτις (a person of the [...]
The Biblical Language Center, at Qibbutz Tzuba, just west of Jerusalem is offering its second annual, immersion Greek SXOLH this summer 2008. Two teachers in class teach in Koiné Greek, 90%+ of the time. Outside languages (e.g. English, Hebrew) are restricted to 10% within the classroom. From the beginning students start to play in the [...]