Hebrew as second language

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Interview with Randall Buth

These are answers to an online interview with Seumas Macdonald. 1. Randall, I wonder if you'd share a little about the environment and methods you were exposed to when first learning the biblical languages yourself? Before the biblical languages I was given traditional Latin and German high school training. The German was done as "grammar [...]

So what, in fact, does ἑβραϊστί mean?

A rather lengthy article "Hebraisti in Ancient Texts: Does ἑβραϊστί Ever Mean 'Aramaic'?" by Randall Buth and Chad Pierce has appeared in the Brill volume, The Language Environment of First Century Judaea,  Randall Buth and R Steven Notley edd., (Brill, 2014, ISBN 9789004263406). The article looks at the meanings and claims about the meanings of [...]

We’ve Begun Biblical Hebrew Instructors Fluency Workshop July 2013 in Fresno

We've begun our Biblical Hebrew Instructors Fluency Workshop in Fresno.  We will be posting photos on our Facebook page as well as updates during the workshop. For a video from the first day, here.

What is wrong with calling the Hebrew verb “an aspect”?

The biggest problem with calling the Hebrew verb “an aspect” is the English language. This problem also applies to any language that clearly differentiates aspect from tense, like most of the European languages including Greek. Unfortunately, because Hebrew is quite different from Greek or English, the verb is often described as an “aspect” system that [...]

Randall Buth on Peter Burton

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 [...]

On Speaking and Scholarship

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 [...]

Literacy development linked to oral development. Hmmm-?

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 [...]

TPR – Introducing the waw-hahippux

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 [...]

The Need for Some Speed in order to Read

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 [...]

First Steps in CLT

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.

Language is Communication

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, [...]

Contrasting methodologies

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 [...]

Mini Quiz: Biblical or Modern Hebrew

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 [...]