Applying Communicative Language Teaching Principles to Biblical Hebrew Instruction




Biblical Hebrew, Communicative language teaching (CLT), Total physical response (TPR), Teaching proficiency through reading and storytelling (TPRS)


Biblical Hebrew (BH) has traditionally been taught using the so-called “grammar-translation” method. This method, however, has been shown to be ineffective in bringing most students to spoken or reading fluency. Communicative language teaching (CLT) has been the dominant teaching method of modern languages since the 1980s. In modern language teaching, spoken fluency is the primary goal of the language teaching. The goal of most students studying BH, however, is not spoken fluency, but reading with comprehension. The thesis of this article is threefold: 1) that CLT can be used to help students reach their goal of reading with comprehension, 2) that it can be implemented with success in a first-year classroom, and 3) that students find it more effective and enjoyable than the grammar-translation method. After a brief overview of the history of language teaching, the first part of the body of the article substantiates the claim that CLT is effective in helping students read with comprehension and not just speaking fluently. The second part shows how CLT can be implemented in a first-year classroom. The various techniques that we use in our curriculum are described in some theoretical detail, after which their application in the curriculum is described. Finally, we consider some feedback that we have received from students.


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How to Cite

Lemmer, Liza. 2020. “Applying Communicative Language Teaching Principles to Biblical Hebrew Instruction ”. Journal for Semitics 29 (2):22 pages.



Received 2019-10-02
Accepted 2020-06-03
Published 2020-07-30