Why Our Method?
You may have noticed that our videos use a methodology for teaching that many people have never experienced, especially for the biblical languages. It’s called Comprehensible Input, and it’s one of the most effective pedagogical strategies in the world. It’s not new, and it’s easy to understand.
When people begin watching our videos, many immediately think we’ve forgotten to add English subtitles or need to write everything that’s being said on the screen. But rest assured that all of this is for a reason. It’s an important part of our pedagogy, which you can learn about more on this webpage.
Keeping It Simple
Basically, when you learn a language, the most important thing is to hear a lot of the language in a way that is comprehensible. That means that the content presented to you needs to be in a format that communicates implicitly what’s going on, whether through images or objects or actions. The guy who has championed this method the most is Stephen Krashen, and it’s sometimes referred to as the Natural Approach. He pointed out that “language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drills.” He also argued that the best methods for teaching a language are those that give comprehensible input in low anxiety situations, with messages that students actually want to hear. It’s important not to force people to talk early in the second language, but allow students to start talking when they are ready. Students improve when you supply them with more communicative and comprehensible input, rather than forcing them to speak and then correcting them. As you’ll see in our videos, we incorporate all of this methodology, and students all over the world are finding that learning Hebrew is less frustrating and intimidating than they ever dreamed. You can read what some of them are saying here.
When you start watching our videos you’ll notice that you won’t see anything written on the screen, and we won’t begin by teaching you the alphabet. There’s good reason for this! You see, when you were a child, your parents didn’t begin by teaching you the alphabet before they taught you words, right? No one teaches babies the alphabet before they learn their first words! God designed us this way for a reason. So in the first handful of videos in our series you will only learn basic words and phrases; but no alphabet. We don’t assume any beginner can read yet, just like your parents didn’t assume you could read when you were born. When you’re a kid you spend years learning to speak and understand your language before going to school to learn how to read it. That is the logical way it works for everyone. If we did things the opposite way, both children and parents would end up very discouraged and frustrated! And that’s one of the reasons so many people give up or never get very far when they try to learn biblical Hebrew: the natural order of things has been reversed.
Although we would love to spend years teaching you how to speak and understand Hebrew before introducing the alphabet, we realize that’s not realistic for a lot of people. So instead we spend six lessons giving the basics in our videos without any alphabet or texts. Then, little by little we will begin teaching you the letters, but be patient! We won’t teach all of the letters in one lesson, rather we’ll go nice and slow to allow time for our students to better internalize the symbols and sounds, so that they won’t get overwhelmed. Then, by the time you complete lesson 19, you should be ready to start reading. Once again, our methodology is not for those who are in a rush and want to take shortcuts. There are no shortcuts to quality language learning. Your mind needs time to naturally process things in the right order. If you short circuit that process, you’ll be disappointed with the results and grow discouraged. Learning Hebrew is not a race; it’s an expedition that lasts a lifetime.
This is also why we do not include English translations/subtitles for everything that is said in the videos. If we did that, it wouldn’t allow your brain to truly digest and internalize what it’s being exposed to. Once again, when you learned your mother tongue as a child, no one translated what was being said to you into another language, because you didn’t know any other languages! So we encourage you to be patient, relax, and let your brain do the amazing things that God has designed it to do. After several repetitions of a video you will find that you understand everything (or almost everything) without the need of translation.
Say Goodbye to Anxiety
We highly recommend watching the following three videos of Stephen Krashen himself explaining the science and theory of the method we use, as well as further principles for success in language acquisition. Although the video is dated, the content is still as relevant and helpful today as ever. For those of you who would prefer to listen to a podcast instead of watching videos, you can listen to Andrew’s two episodes on language-learning that includes Krashen’s teaching audio below and more. Also, we strongly recommend that you take the time to read the best treatment of this subject, which is Scott McQuinn’s excellent thesis, Toward a Principled Communicative Methodology for Teaching the Biblical Languages which is free for everyone here!