Finally, a class video!

I won’t bore you with my technological woes.  Suffice to say that it ain’t easy pulling a 10-minute iMovie off your iPad (unless it’s one with ginormous memory), let alone converting it into an unlisted Youtube movie.  (I lost my first completed version of the movie and had to re-create it!!)  It’s a huge time investment to edit and caption a short video…but here’s the result.  It’s Day 1 of Comprehensible Hebrew – from September 7 (around 3 weeks ago).

Let’s (see if I can) get beyond my Coke-bottle spectacles….  I’m living just beyond my comfort zone, trying to expose Hebrew teachers everywhere to another (and I believe better!) way, unflattering haircut be damned.

I don’t know this group of kids, other than my daughter, who is a current fourth grader.  (You’ll meet her in the video).  This is our first encounter ever!

A teacher recently commented to me that, “it’s like kids are allergic to languages other than English.”  And I started thinking about that metaphor.  It’s pretty apt!  When I was getting allergy shots in the 70’s, as I understood it, tiny bits of pollen and other environmental allergens were introduced, so that my blood would get used to the foreign material, and be sensitized over time.  And that’s the way it is with a new language!  The students aren’t familiar with the discreet sounds, the melody, the cadence, not to mention the grammar, syntax and morphology of Hebrew.  They don’t know the meaning of the words.  But rather than injecting Hebrew in a scary and painful shot, I have them swimming in a shallow pool of it.  And there are inflatable duckies and treats along the deck!  They will slowly be sensitized, and the familiar and acquired Hebrew will eventually feel as automatic and mindless as English!   No sneezing or swollen bloodshot eyes!

This phenomenon reminds me of a language quote I love:

“One must be drenched in words,

literally soaked in them,

to have the right ones form themselves

into the proper pattern at the right moment.”
-Hart Crane, American Poet

Back to the clip.  In this demo video I caption some of the foundational practices of Teaching with Comprehensible Input (T/CI), including:

*Pause, point & S-L-O-W

*Training the kids in the ‘Rules of the game’

*Careful listening

*Teaching to the eyes (-Susie Gross)

*Scaffolded questions

*Frequent comprehension checks

*Narrow, hi-frequency language

*Valuing effort to make meaning

*Choral responses



Feel free to share the video with other Hebrew teachers and/or anyone interested in World Language instruction.

Drenching kids in comprehensible, compelling and contextualized Hebrew is my goal.

How’d I do?  I’d love your feedback!

6 thoughts on “Finally, a class video!

  1. I loved seeing the looks on the kids’ faces and watching their reaction to TPR. The reflection time at the end was also a great way to help them understand it’s a collaborative process, and their experience is important to their teacher.

  2. Diane,
    Thanks so much! I learned and gained confidence from your fabulous presentation on Cold Character Reading at the iFLT conference in Chattanooga. Please continue to observe our Hebrew work here!

  3. Read your post-Avichai study blog. Finally – someone gets it. Looking forward to solutions that will help students from pre-1A through 12 to LOVE this language and to cherish their interactions in it and with it in all its rich forms.

    • Thanks for your support, Gavriel! There are, I think, many reasons why language learning in our country (not just Hebrew) has been so ineffective. In the case of Hebrew, here are a few:
      1. Our tradition is to start with The Text (rather than with oral language).
      2. Practices are confused with traditions, making them (practices) harder to question and change.
      3. Until now, There has been hardly any comprehension-based/proficiency-oriented Hebrew training for teachers available – but I aim to change all that!
      4. After decades of failure, our community has lost hope in the feasibility of gaining Hebrew proficiency at school.
      5. Standards and expectations have fallen, and hand-wringing has filled the void.
      6. Precious modern Hebrew contact minutes have been preempted by liturgical Hebrew and classical texts.
      7. Stakeholders – administrators, teachers, parents and students – are unaware of the Second Language Acquisition research that ought to inform school practice.
      I am determined to spread the news that there are more effective strategies based on the research.

    • Hi, Natan, thanks for your encouraging comment. I have taught adults using the exact same strategies! One issue particular to lesser taught languages like Hebrew is literacy. Novices who want to gain Hebrew proficiency skills must master the Alef-Bet (alphabet) and learn to decode. After sound and meaning are in the learners’ heads, they greatly benefit from the power of reading to reinforce and extend the language! Read more by searching my blog with the term ‘Literacy’ in the search bar on the upper left corner of the home page!

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