Hebrew, a language spoken globally from Tel-Aviv to Minsk,
has come to Hamline.
“It’s a beautiful, ancient language with a rich history of literature,” said Professor Earl Schwartz, who teaches religion in Hamline's College of Liberal Arts. “It’s also a very modern language that
has adapted and evolved over time.”
The Beginning Hebrew course, offered this J-term for the
first time as a part of Hamline’s newly-developed Middle East Studies
involves intensive study of the language as well as creative methods to help
students retain what they have learned. Rather than rely entirely on workbooks
and lectures, Schwartz, who is fluent in Hebrew, believes the key to language learning is having fun.
“So far in the class, we’ve danced, we’ve sung, we’ve eaten,
and we’ve done scavenger hunts,” Schwartz said. “All of these things are not
only enjoyable and build community, but they promote a practical, holistic
understanding of Hebrew.”
Schwartz has also developed unique ways to help students track their own success and their grasp of the language. On the first day of
class, he played a video of Israeli-born actress Natalie Portman speaking
Hebrew and has subsequently played it again several times as the course
has progressed. Each time students see the video, they are able to recognize more
of what is being said.
“By the end of the course, they will be able to understand
everything she’s saying,” Schwartz said.
The students in the course have differing motivations for
learning Hebrew. While some will be studying abroad in the Middle East or plan to
pursue Biblical studies, there are others who are simply interested in engaging
with a new language.
“Learning language is an effective way to open your mind to
new ways of seeing the world, which is a core part of a Hamline education,” Schwartz said.
East Studies at Hamline expands, Schwartz said that the opportunities for
students to learn new languages and discover cultures will increase, as well.
more about the new Middle East Studies program at Hamline.