By Hadas Heyman
How do I provide more opportunities for my students to speak Hebrew inside and outside the classroom?
As a Hebrew language teacher, I’ve always asked myself this question over and over again. My students spend a short amount of time in my class every day, and this time is so precious and valuable. Every second should be planned effectively. My students know that wasting time is a big pet peeve of mine. There is time to write, read, use technology tools to enhance students’ learning, ask questions, discuss, work in a small group or with a partner and also to play games.
As teachers, we want to make sure that our students use the new gained skills outside our classroom. How can I do this in my Hebrew class? What are some good ways to encourage my students to converse in Hebrew and become more proficient in speaking the language?
I just came back from an iTaLAM workshop and this topic was discussed during one of the sessions I attended. I was assigned to work collaboratively with 3 other great educators and competed with another team on planning a lesson that was supposed to include opportunities for students to engage in verbal conversation with each other. First, I have to say that acting and role playing is something I despise since I feel that I am terrible at it. But I know that the right thing to do as a teacher is to step out of my comfort zone and take risks, even if my heart was pounding and I was out of breath.
Based on this experience and from listening to other experts in the area, here are a few things to remember:
- Children make mistakes and learn from them. We need to let them make mistakes and not correct them when they talk and create with the language.
- We need to help those students that may struggle to create with the language. We can
provide these students sentence starters, more time to think before they talk and be patience with them.
- Students love to be “the teacher” and may do a great job “teaching” for a short while and lead a conversation/activity in Hebrew.
- Prompts are very helpful and can encourage children to speak in a second language.
- Teachers should use visuals that may stimulate conversation in the classroom.
- Teachers can observe and let go more often rather than do the talking and “control” the class throughout the lesson.
I am working on following these guidelines myself and I have promised myself to continue doing this for as long as I teach. I would love to share some of the things that took place in and outside my classroom when the students created in Hebrew language.