What is Learning Biblical Hebrew Interactively?

Dr. Paul Overland

  • Raised in a bilingual environment (Japan)
  • Received PhD in Hebrew Bible from Brandeis University
  • Teaching graduate-level Biblical Hebrew since 1999
  • Served as Project Director, “Communicative Hebrew Learning and Teaching” (funded by the Wabash Center, 2005-2008, also called the “Cohelet Project”)
  • Currently Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, Ohio, USA

Factors that led to Learning Biblical Hebrew Interactively:

  • I grew concerned as I observed students struggling to learn Hebrew with outmoded pedagogy (Grammar Translation Method, standard for all classical languages).
  • Then I noticed that students thrived when they were able to employ the target language as a vehicle for their own communication (a foundational principle in Communicative Language Teaching).
  • Early forays into Communicative Language Teaching gained substantial refinement through training in Second Language Acquisition (received in the Cohelet Project).
  • Also during the Cohelet Project, the first half of the textbook was collaboratively written and field-tested. (For a full project report, see “Can Communicative Principles Enhance Classical Language Acquisition?” in Foreign Language Annals 44:3 [Fall 2011]: 583-93, co-authored with Lee Fields and Jennifer Noonan.)
  • Learning Biblical Hebrew Interactively came to completion in the years following the Cohelet Project, together with instructional videos and teaching aids.