Last week-end, February 19-20, 2011, a dozen of my current and past biblical Hebrew students went on a short retreat to Casa Pacifica, a cabin near Shaver Lake owned by Fresno Pacific University where I teach. The goal was to spend as much time as possible in biblical Hebrew. We went on a nature walk, sang songs, had scripture readings, prepared food, set and cleared tables, and of course ate lots of traditional Middle Eastern food – all in biblical Hebrew. It was great fun. (A news blurb was posted here on FPU’s website)
But the best part is that it was not even my idea, nor a requirement for the course, nor even extra credit. It was the brain child of one of my former biblical Hebrew students who wished to have something that would help her, and others, keep and improve their biblical Hebrew. There were no other incentives: it was “giving up” a free week-end for the sake of an opportunity outside of class to practice and improve one’s biblical Hebrew. A single email was all the advertising that was done. A dozen signed up, with more expressing their disappointment at already having prior commitments. At the end of the week-end, those who did come begged for this to become a yearly event.
This is just one example of how using the principles of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT – in my case the Living Biblical Hebrew curriculum), raises student motivation, even generating excitement, about learning the biblical languages.