New Biblical Hebrew Syllabus Challenge

This is not a hypothetical situation. A friend (and former student) of mine will be traveling to China this summer to teach Biblical Hebrew to a group of about 50 students (who are mostly pastors). The facts (as I know them):

1. Number of students: 50 adults
2. Time frame: 10 class days (2 weeks), 6-8 hours per day
3. Cover the material for a “typical” first semester course (we can talk about what that “should” include)
4. Language of students: Mandarin (so that means limited instructional material that is published)

They do have access to a Mandarin version of Weingreen. How would you use that?

What would you include, exclude, simplify or condense? What about quizzes, exams? How many, when? What about homework?

What would you want these students to leave the two weeks being able to do?

And …. how much of that could you do with a communicative method?


9 thoughts on “New Biblical Hebrew Syllabus Challenge

  1. Tony Siew

    Dear Karyn, thanks for your posts on Hebrew and Greek which I enjoyed reading. As for your friend’s teaching of Hebrew using Mandarin, that would be a great opportunity. I think if they are mostly pastors, their reasons for taking up the course would be to read OT in Hebrew (or hope to in due course). I have taught Greek in Indonesian before (Wenham’s Greek transl. to Indonesian). I find most Asian students very keen on learning the biblical languages, but the communicative method may have some draw backs if they are totally new to the language and that they are learning it intensively over 2 weeks. Just some thoughts.

    1. Karyn Post author

      Hi Tony,

      Welcome. Thank you for your comments. I agree that the communicative method is going to be a challenge to utilize in a 2 week course. That was exactly my point in challenging the proponents of CLT to think through this particular situation. I think sometimes we need to turn our attention to the “trenches.” No matter what you think about communicative methodology (and there are many mixed opinions), the reality is that it is not going to be best in all situations. The specifics of a given situation will drive what is the most useful set of tools to implement (hence, my emphasis on focusing on the end-use of the learner as the driving force of the decisions for curriculum and pedagogy). Having a friend go to China to teach Biblical Hebrew in Mandarin takes the conversation out of the realm of theory and into practice. I look forward to posting more about the finalized syllabus and a report after the teaching is completed.

  2. Steve Rives

    If I was suddenly in that situation (and I had to right now make a decision) I would go and teach them how to teach themselves from Weingreen. I would get through as much of Weingreen with them as possible (exercises), then let them work through the rest on their own.

    I am in the process of uploading answers to all of Weingreen’s exercises (PDF format) onto my web site. I would have them check their answers that way. Not that my answers are the answer key, but I would provide one if I were the prof.

    Also, while I have you here: do you have fonts to go with your Hebrew worksheet? When I look at your PDF files on my machine, the fonts for most of the Hebrew don’t come across. Which fonts did you use?

  3. Karyn Post author

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for your comments. We’ve got an answer key for WG too, so it would be interesting to compare our documents.

    As to the Hebrew worksheet. Are you talking about the Weak Verb chart or the Review guide? Both are meant to be able to be “read” whether you have the fonts or not. I’ll double check on that. I may email you a different version and ask you to check to see if you can read it. I appreciate you pointing that out to me.

  4. Steve Rives

    I am writing the answers for the English to Hebrew. That is, I am giving Hebrew answers, you can compare my answer to your sheet in this file: Answer to English to Hebrew. If you would send me your answers, I will also like to compare results.

    I wrote software tool that lets the student type English in one pane and Hebrew in another — quickly working through Weingreen and producing this above results. Windows based (sorry).

    As for the fonts in your file: Yes! the PDF files do work correctly outside of my browser (Google Chrome). Odd. Chrome also refuses to show my WordPress dashboard properly.

    I stumbled onto your blog when I saw your top 5 books. Ken Brown took all of our selections and put them on one page. You were the only one with Mark Smith (and him at the top) — that caught my eye as I have read his work. For my Ugaritic studies I wrote software that lets me explore and translate Ugaritic and all of it is tied to Gordon’s dictionary.

    Thanks for all your Hebrew work,


  5. goran

    Hi Karyn

    would you be so kind to send me the address of your website (where you have uploaded answers to Weingreen excersises). Thank you

  6. Jackie

    Hi Karen, I am also attempting to learn Hebrew using Weingreen and would find it extremely useful if I could check the answers to the exercises so if you dont mind perhaps you would send me your website address.

  7. Karyn Post author

    Hi Goran and Jackie,

    Unfortunately, due to copyright issues, I can’t just post the answers to the Weingreen exercises online, so there isn’t a link to direct you to. I’ll keep trying to work on getting permission to post it.


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