Modern Hebrew for Intermediate Students offers high school, college, and independent-study students a state-of-the-art learning experience that takes full advantage of media technology and the World Wide Web. A sequel to Modern Hebrew for Beginners, this combination of text- and workbook is designed to be used with web-based audio, visual, and interactive materials to give students multiple learning opportunities suited to a variety of learning styles. The program provides for intense practice of all four language skills: reading, writing, listening comprehension, and conversation.
Esther Raizen provides language training while focusing on a variety of general topics, such as geography and genetics, as well as on topics pertinent to Hebrew culture and Israeli realities. A dedicated website (www.laits.utexas.edu/hebrew/index.html) is rich with interactive tutorials, links to sites of interest that serve as virtual tours, short films based on contemporary Israeli life and society, and numerous interviews that provide listening and discussion opportunities. Raizen emphasizes the spoken language, while also paying attention to various aspects of normative grammar, of the written language, and of cultural elements associated with Hebrew. With this variety of materials and the capacity for continuous updating via the website, teachers and students will find this book endlessly adaptable and highly suitable for self-paced training and a variety of academic settings.
Modern Hebrew for Intermediate Students is a sequel to Modern Hebrew for Beginners by the same author (published by The University of Texas Press in 2000). It builds upon the materials introduced in the first book, and assumes similar pedagogical practices, that is, strong reliance on oral performance during in-class activities, emphasis of written expression in homework assignments, and regular student-instructor and student-student interactions in groups of various sizes.
Each unit of the book begins with one or more reading selections, followed by exercises, discussions of grammatical and cultural topics, and suggestions for activities. Our reading selections are regularly followed by a set of comprehension questions pertaining to the selections themselves and by a second set of relevant questions which call for expanded knowledge beyond what is conveyed in the text The two sets are meant to be addressed either orally or in writing. Our lists of suggested class activities, are primarily geared toward oral interaction, and stand at the core of the curriculum when it comes to proficiency in speaking.
Several types of multi-media materials are incorporated in the curriculum that is followed in this book. Short original movies, computer exercises, sound files corresponding to the reading selections, and flashcards with sound are used in the same way they were used in Modern Hebrew for Beginners, and listed at the end of each unit under Like the earlier materials, they can be accessed through the Modern Hebrew Project web site at http://www.laits.utexas.edu/hebrew/. In conjunction with our original multi-media materials, we make occasional use of relevant web sites developed in Israel and elsewhere. Those sites are utilized as information resources, and incorporated in some of the individual tasks and class activities suggested for the different units (e.g., a tour of Israel with Tnuva, an exercise in exchanging foreign currency for Sheqels, or planning a train trip in Israel). As URLs often change, and sites tend to disappear or move to new locations, a gateway page called "Virtual Tours" is incorporated in the "Tutorials" section of the program web site. This page maintains updated URLs, adds relevant "tours" as they become available, and provides general information about the sites, including their language, content, and possible uses. Because of the dynamic nature of web sites, we refrain from listing URLs in the book. We use the surfer icon to signal that the adjacent activities are covered by a virtual tour, and the user should consult the "Virtual Tours" web page while engaged in the activity.
While English is at times used for general discussion of grammar and other issues, the book assumes Hebrew as the main language of instruction and expression. All exercise and activity instructions are given in Hebrew, and a point is made to include in the reading selections topics which have no direct relevance to the language or its culture. Short discussions of topics such as world geography, genetics, political systems, and nutrition are included in the book in an attempt to present age-appropriate materials and relate to students' general areas of interest in the target language. Likewise, original cartoons presented in each chapter often address general issues relevant to that chapter rather than Hebrew-specific issues. A well-developed skill of using a Hebrew dictionary is one of the goals addressed in this book. In addition to systematic training in dictionary use, the book occasionally uses unfamiliar words that students are expected to look up on their own. Unit yod, which provides a sample of Biblical, Mishnaic and Medieval Hebrew prose and poetry, presents students with the opportunity to evaluate their dictionary skills and use them in an authentic environment. The unit also provides a set of exercises in listening comprehension, based on video and audio interviews with adult learners of Hebrew who discuss their experience of studying the language. While the final goal of our program is to advance students to the appropriate proficiency in oral expression, we strongly believe that a curriculum promoted by an academic institution should provide students with solid understanding of language mechanisms and create awareness of the dynamic history of that language. We find that the logic of Hebrew grammar, when addressed as an intellectual challenge, adds an exciting dimension to the curriculum and allows for continuous learning well after formal instruction has ended. Thus, in distancing ourselves to some extent from the strong convictions of the proficiency movement in language instruction, we attempt here to teach our students about the language as well as the language itself. With grammar as a tool of communication at our disposal, we often ask students to make deductions and educated guesses, and apply language mechanisms which they are made aware of explicitly in addition to those which they absorb and develop naturally.
While strong emphasis is placed on the Hebrew verb system, we rarely resort to mechanical conjugation of verbs. We provide ample practice opportunities in written exercises and computer tutorials which allow for verb use in context. A computerized generator of some five hundred Hebrew verbs in full conjugation, the Hebrewer, was developed at the University of Texas Linguistics Research Center and is available to our users should they want to engage in conjugating verbs or strengthen their knowledge of the verb system. The Hebrewer can be accessed through the "Tools" section of the Modern Hebrew Project web site. Teachers may want to check the Hebrew Teacher Toolbox, also available through the "Tools" section, for a variety of games, art projects, and other enrichment activities.
Assuming three weekly hours in the classroom, the materials covered in this book are designed to carry students through two semesters of instruction, at the end of which successful students are expected to perform at the intermediate-high level of proficiency as defined by ACTFL.