Hannah Senesh students are exposed to Hebrew language from the moment they enter our school building every day. Hebrew greetings of “Boker tov” mingle with English wishes of “Good morning,” hallway walls feature student work exploring Hebrew language and culture, and voices are raised in song during morning tefila. Stepping into Hebrew classrooms, students are immersed in the language, from the early years of letter recognition and simple words, to the later years of complex dialogues, stories and essays.
Our Hebrew language instruction is focused on developing all four skills of second-language acquisition: listening, speaking, reading, and writing as well as learning about Israel and Israeli culture. In grades K-5 we incorporate games, literature, poetry, movement and drama to build vocabulary and provide opportunities for students to speak Hebrew in various settings. Students learn the Alpha-Bet through words which they relate to and can easily remember. In first grade students learn to write print letters and in second grade they learn to write in script and the written exercises are always connected to the learned vocabulary. As the curriculum is child- centered, it is designed to deepen students’ understanding of the language and strengthen their abilities to express themselves effectively. Our curriculum is an assessment based curriculum and the materials we choose are age and level appropriate.
Middle school Hebrew classes are centered on themes of interest to teenagers, which encourage active involvement and produce a high level of engagement. Each theme is presented in context the kids relate to and understand. Hebrew language classes in the middle school are also about modern Israeli culture as learning culture enhances the learning of the language. Each unit of study incorporates art, music, prose, poetry, news articles, and Jewish texts. At the end of eighth grade, it is wonderful to see our students take this classroom knowledge “to the streets” as they readily speak in Hebrew while visiting the State of Israel.