At North Shore Hebrew Academy High School, Hebrew Language instruction is accomplished through application of the "Bishvil Ha-Ivrit" Program, a cutting edge curriculum bringing Hebrew alive with print and digital media, and face-to-face and virtual training for teachers. The "Bishvil Ha-Ivrit" curriculum consists of five books designed for six years of study in secondary schools in the Diaspora and offers materials for all Hebrew levels, from beginner to advanced. The curriculum integrates six dimensions: language skills, subject area content, thought processes, communicative activities, linguistic grammatical topics, and genres.
The utilization of the "Bishvil Ha-Ivrit" Program at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School is driven by the belief that mastery of Hebrew will promote students’ understanding of their history, culture, and tradition; excite them about lifelong Jewish learning, foster a sense of belonging to the Jewish people; and cultivate strong ties with Medinat Israel and Am Israel. The program cultivates all aspects of Hebrew language learning: grammar and content, conversation and literature, poetry, songs, writing assignments, independent reading and current events. We would like to create a community of Hebrew speakers who can enjoy a lecture in Hebrew, read a Hebrew book, participate in a serious discussion or casual conversation in Hebrew, read an article in an Israeli newspaper, and write a letter to the editor in Hebrew.
The multi-dimensional "Bishvil Ha-Ivrit" Program focuses on the four major language acquisition skills – listening, speaking, reading, and writing – by immersing students in a wide range of genres and in a whole language approach to everything from classical Hebrew texts to Israeli music, and from historical documents to poetry and drama. Modern Hebrew is taught in its linguistic, cultural, and spiritual context with concrete reference to Hebrew in different periods: Biblical, Mishnaic, medieval, enlightenment, and the revival of Hebrew.
The goal of teaching is to develop the students’ active linguistic ability, based on knowledge and proficiency in the six dimensions mentioned above. The active linguistic ability is built gradually from the simple to the more complex and from passive knowledge to creative activity. Although all levels and all units use the same linguistic elements, genres, layers, and registers, the level of achievement is measured on several continuums: length of texts, richness of vocabulary, frequency/infrequency of words, syntactic complexity of the sentences, and rhetorical complexity of the texts. For example, along the continuum of text length, students placed in an advanced level will read longer texts, speak in longer sentences, and produce more sentences than students in less advanced levels. Furthermore, they will listen to longer songs and longer stories and write longer sentences, paragraphs, and compositions. The level of achievement is measured in a similar manner on the other continuums.
There are two aspects of learning and achievement in the "Bishvil Ha-Ivrit" Program: communicative ability and linguistic knowledge. The success of a typical "Bishvil Ha-Ivrit" graduate is assessed in both of these two dimensions. The learning process engages the student in content related to the theme of the unit studied. The description of each unit’s goals begins with communicative skills and progresses toward linguistic knowledge. Within each unit, communicative achievements appear in order of centrality, complexity, and richness of associated activities, starting with the most central, complex, and rich. Technology enhances and supports learning with audio recordings, interactive technology, documentary films, and more.
During the course of each level, a set number of gateway units are covered, each devoted to a conceptual theme. Relevant vocabulary and level-appropriate linguistic concepts are introduced through the media of poetry, Modern Hebrew songs and fiction, dialogues, non-fiction articles, and excerpts from the Tanach, the Midrash, and the Talmud.
Overview of Course Sequence:
Mechina (Preparatory) Level 30 lessons (fully online module)
Beginner Level Bishvil Ha-Ivrit 1 and 2
Intermediate Level Bishvil Ha-Ivrit 3 and 4
Advanced Level Bishvil Ha-Ivrit 5, online module on Freedom & NETA Books 22-25
This level is designed for students with no or very little knowledge of Hebrew. The Mechina offers innovative tools for learning to read and write in Hebrew while building vocabulary. Letters and vowels are taught and each student learns how to write, pronounce and understand new vocabulary words, and to use these words in sentences. The Mechina also helps students develop their speaking ability, as the sequence of new vocabulary words is arranged to help students progress step-wise in basic speech patterns. Students who complete this level will be able to speak in short dialogues, write paragraphs, memos, and assertions, read paragraphs of information or description and stories or folk tales, listen to and comprehend short dialogues, and recognize and use appropriate morphology and syntax.