Students majoring in Hebrew language and literature at Brandeis will:
- achieve functional linguistic proficiency in the four language skills (speaking, listening, writing, reading) at the level of a near-native speaker through application of the acquired knowledge in all areas of language and culture;
- be able to utilize these skills in both formal and informal settings;
- be capable of analyzing all aspects of the written and oral language with respect to different genre, including media and modern literature, as well as classical and academic texts;
- deepen the understanding of historical evolution and contemporary development of the language through analysis of language structure;
- develop comprehension of and appreciation for cultural phenomena represented in the language;
- become familiar with mechanisms of language acquisition, assisting them in becoming lifelong learners of the Hebrew language;
- The publication of the Hebrew Proficiency guidelines in 1990 (By the Hebrew program at Brandeis in Collaboration with The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) have helped us gain a better understanding of the characteristic stages of linguistic behavior that non native usually follows from "no communication in Hebrew" (the Novice level) to "native- like competence" (the superior level). These guidelines opened the way for more realistic assessment of functional proficiency in all four skills obtainable through instruction in any academic framework.
- Since our curriculum was inspired by The Hebrew proficiency Guidelines and therefore is written in terms of "student outcomes, i.e. it describes not what we hope to achieve, but what students actually learned and were able to do after each period of instruction.
- The curriculum assumes 14 weeks of instruction either six or four hours weekly (depends on the level) including the number of contact hours both in the classroom and outside the classroom.
- In order to get a true indication of what they have learned both achievements and proficiency exams need to be included in the curriculum.
- The curriculum for the first three semesters was written with equal emphasis on all four skills. Starting from the fourth semester there are courses that emphasize one specific skill e.g. reading, speaking, writing over the others.
- Since there is a difference between the pace of the acquisition of productive skills (speaking and writing) and the receptive skills (reading and listening) the expected levels of outcomes are articulated in terms of range of levels.
- In order to clarify the exact expectation, we articulated the outcomes' goals for each of the language skills.
- Each goal articulation includes the following criteria: Content/context, Tasks, Text -type and accuracy.
- In order to get a true indication of both student progress and outcome exams need to be included in the curriculum.
- Students are encouraged to be active participants in their own learning.
- We hope that the articulation of the learning goals will help our students develop realistic expectations regarding the proficiency achievable in a specified number of hours of study.
They need to understand that learning a foreign language is a life-long endeavor.
Specific Outcome Goals
The following is a description of specific outcome goals for each unit we teach during the first semester (5 units - approximately).
- Each unit is described by the same criteria used in the proficiency guidelines.
- In addition, we describe how each unit will advance learners in terms of their abilities to understand and use the Hebrew grammar.
- We also add "cultural outcomes' to each of the units. Since language is embedded in the culture, each unit presents us with the opportunity to expose, teach and practice cultural components related to Hebrew.
By the end of the semester, students are expected to have reached proficiency level of Novice - High in speaking and writing (according to the ACTFL guidelines - see below) and proficiency level of Intermediate-Low in reading and listening (according to the ACTFL guidelines - see below).
"Able to satisfy partially the requirements of basic communicative exchanges by relying heavily on learned utterances but occasionally expanding these through simple recombination of their elements. Can ask questions or make statements involving learned material. Shows signs of spontaneity although this falls short of real autonomy of expression. Speech mainly consists of learned utterances rather than of personalized ones, Vocabulary centers on areas such as basic objects, places, and most common kinship terms."
"Able to write simple, fixed expressions and limited memorized materials and some recombinations thereof. Can supply information on simple forms and documents. Can write names, numbers, dates, own nationality, and other simple autobiographical information, as well as some short phrases and simple lists. Can write all the symbols in an alphabetic system."
"Able to understand main ideas and/or some facts from the simplest connected texts dealing with basic personal and social needs. Such texts are linguistically noncomplex and have a clear underlying internal structure, for example, chronological sequencing. They impart basic information about which the reader has to make only minimal suppositions or to which the reader brings personal interest and/or knowledge. Examples include messages with social purposes and information for the widest possible audience, such as public announcements and short, straightforward instructions dealing with public life."
"Able to understand sentence-length utterances which consist of recombination of learned elements in a limited number of content areas, particularly if strongly supported by the situational context. Content refers to basic personal background and needs, social conventions and routine tasks, such as getting meals and receiving simple instructions and directions. Listening tasks pertain primarily to spontaneous face-to-face conversations."