Best Practice Hebrew

Click on the sections below to download the respective videos. They are in .mov format. 

Teaching Cultural Perspectives and Practices

This is a listening comprehension activity with second-year Hebrew Students. The lecture combines conversation about colors with a unit on genetics that we were working on at the time the lesson was filmed.

1: Colors, passive review followed by very short active review.

2: Lecture: Introduction to colors in graphics.

3: Application of lecture materials: The color wheel.

4a: Application and development (Part 1): Blue and Brown Eyes.

4b: Application and development (Part 2): Albinism.

5: Conversation with students, closing remarks.

Professor Renana Schneller

1: "Getting the class to chat" The teacher does a great job of talking about a culturally significant topic. More importantly, almost everyone in the class can relate to this topic of Passover and attending Seder meals. She shows good use of student responses and making them stick to the Hebrew.

2: "An important subject to discuss" This is the first pre-listening activity to a song that the teacher will introduce. She is discussing a cultural significant topic of non-religious people switching and choosing to become religious. Excellent example of a pre-listening introduction and of talking at an i+1 level for the students.

3: "Erik Einstein" Culturally fascinating and another great pre-listening conversation, the teacher discusses the personal situation of the artist, Erik Einstein, that has lead him to write the song that they will be studying today. Great incorporation of new vocabulary and defining while remaining in target language.

4: "Can you catch the words in the song?" The teacher has many words written out on paper and has passed out a copy to every student. In addition, she has two volunteers come to the front to do the same task of circling words as they hear them in the song. Excellent way to take fear away from students at listening for new vocabulary that can often be overwhelming with song lyrics. Also, encourages auditory concentration in that she has included more words on the paper than are in the song so students must decide for themselves what they are hearing. This is much better than simply handing the students the lyrics and having them lazily read along as the teacher plays the song time and time again. Wonderful vocabulary review and building. Encourages meshing of listening and reading abilities.

5a: "Tricky way to practice infinitives activity" Building on the theme of the differences between religious and non-religious people that was introduced with the Einsten song, the teacher has a list of items (written in Hebrew) such as 'A religious person can...' 'A non-religious person doesn't have...' 'It is hard for a religious person...' The students think they are comparing people, the main goal is to review vocabulary and perfecr shem po'al (the infinitive). The teacher gives the students 3 minutes to work in groups and then reviews their responses together in the second clip. Excellent extension of theme, review of vocabulary, and indirect grammar lesson.

5b: "Tricky way to practice infinitives review" A review of the activity listed above.

Hebrew from Middlebury

Passage Discussion

First Meeting




Course Evaluation

Piel Verbs Part 1

Piel Verbs Part 2





Tape 2: "Teacher Interaction" Students are given a scenario in which to practice new connectors. Assignment is interesting enough, but the instructor keeps the focus of the class through constant interaction and support.

Tape 4: "Teacher Flexibility" The class that we all wish we could return to Wal-Mart and get a full refund. They try their best not to interact and so Esther must be creative in getting chat out of them. After reading a passage (for homework that most probably did not actually read) she is trying to get reaction out of them. When responses are minimal she moves the discussion into today to ask if this scenario would work in our current culture. Later (not on film because it involves too much students apathy to bear) Esther has them pretend that they are calling a friend on the phone to tell about this crazy marriage scenario, and then has them play the roles of the characters themselves in an ad lib class play. Wonderful example of an excellent professor making the best out of a terrible class period.

Tape 5: "Personal Application" Teacher takes topic from literature piece and makes it personally applicable. She asks how their friends married, where parents met, and if it was love at first sight. Two of the students that have never spoken in previous activities finally come out of their shells to tell their love stories.

Tape 23: "Meaning Debate" Advanced students debate meanings from a Yehudah Amichai poem. Note the way the instructor begins by building enthusiasm for the piece and then moves way allowing the students to debate meanings/symbols/allusions. Note the loss of grammatical accuracy during the different debates that the instructor overlooks to allow the students to fully develop their opinions without the hesitation of self correcting. Of note is how the class progresses. After almost an hour of debating over poems that the students worked on for homework the teacher takes the lead and restates many of the words and symbols in question in a grammatically accurate way. When the students are not in the midst of verbal combat their accuracy is renewed. Allowing students time to flush out opinions in vital to establishing advanced levels of fluency and cultural understanding and although time consuming in class lends to great achievement.

Tape 24: "Text Support" A rare magical newspaper moment. Note the instructor allowing only moments of reading the newspaper article in class before conversation begins. So many advanced courses turn into literature and newspaper read-a-thons. The instructor has opted to focus on politics, points of practice in voting that are widely misunderstood, and historical precedence rather than labor through a slow reading of a complicated text. Culture, current events, reading, and speaking are all intermingled through the use of a simple newspaper article.

Tape 25: "Grown Up Topics" A great example of the instructor leading students to apply knowledge from previous classes and studies into the literature and film that they are in the midst of studying. Discussion on existentialism and the use of borrowed philosophy in the arts.

Shoshana Green

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