In the process of gearing up for a new year of teaching Hebrew, I’ve revised and expanded all of the Hebrew quizzes that I previously made available here on Higgaion. Here’s a quick rundown of the specific changes:
As longtime Higgaion readers know, I teach Pepperdine’s three-course Biblical Hebrew sequence, which we offer in alternate years (when the fall semester begins in an odd-numbered year). I’ve posted a few quizzes and teaching slides here, but only yesterday did I finally create a dedicated page to serve as an index for this growing list of resources. If you use any of these resources to teach or study Hebrew, please be so kind as to leave a comment to that effect at the bottom of the new עִבְרִית מִקְרָאִית page.
I also took the opportunity yesterday and this morning to revise several of the exercises for a more consistent look and feel. Furthermore, I added two new quizzes, one focused on cardinal numbers (with a masculine variant and a feminine variant, since Hebrew numbers inflect for gender) and one focused on various times of day and typical activities at those times.
Just in case anyone wonders about this: in general, I lean toward self-publishing material under a CC-BY license. However, because these quizzes often use images that I’ve licensed from elsewhere, I must apply the stricter CC-BY-ND license to these quizzes, along with securing the PDFs against reuse of the images. Such measures cannot assure that end users respect the copyright holders’ rights in these matters, but they do represent my good-faith attempt to protect those rights.
Remember the word problems that you used to solve back in your grade-school math classes? I thought that simple word problems like those would serve as good exercise to help students learn, use, and retain their Biblical Hebrew numbers, so I created two sets of four word problems each. I delivered the first set online via Pepperdine’s “learning management system,” casting them as multiple-choice questions. I delivered the second set on paper so that students would need to compose their answers, and of course I expected the students to answer in Biblical Hebrew, not using Arabic numerals. If you wish, you can download the second quiz and its answer key. Three of the four questions on this quiz feature actual biblical situations, and incorporate biblical quotations either word-for-word or with minimal alteration. This quiz focuses students’ attention on larger numbers (from twenty up into the hundreds); it achieves attention to both genders of single-digit numbers primarily by including numbers that go into the hundreds. Question ג׳ involves nouns that I actually expected my students not to know (specifically, כֹּר סֹלֶת and כֹּר קָמַח), much like a grade-school word problem might ask a student to calculate how many blargs Jane has if she starts with two blargs and gets two more blargs from Tom. I intended question ד׳ as much for entertainment value in a late-semester quiz as much as for anything else; take a look and see whether I succeeded.
As usual, if you use this quiz to teach or learn Biblical Hebrew, please leave a note to that effect in the comments. Also, if you find that I’ve made any errors in the quiz, please let me know so that I can correct them. Finally, I’d receive any additional questions with great interest; perhaps some of us Hebrew teachers should put together a question bank for this sort of thing.
Over the last two iterations of my course sequence in Biblical Hebrew (which I only get to teach every other year because of very low enrollments in our biblical language courses), I’ve tried more and more to get students using Hebrew without porting it through English. As one strategy, using pictures and pantomimes labeled in Hebrew can promote thinking directly in Hebrew rather than thinking in English and then translating into Hebrew. For example, I wouldn’t ask my first-semester students to translate “The teacher threw the ball” into Hebrew; instead, I’d throw a plush ball across the room and then ask them “מָה עָשָׂה הַמּוֹרֶה” instead.
I also have a very strong hunch, though no real data to support it, that students learn Hebrew vocabulary best in the admittedly already artificial environment of a college classroom when they learn semantically related words together. I find myself bewildered by textbooks that assign students to learn the word יוֹם six or seven chapters before they assign the word לַיְלָה. Teaching students words in clusters—such as including אֵתְמוֹל and מָחָר alongside יוֹם and לַיְלָה and עֶרֶב—helps them perceive the web of meaningful relationships between words, rather than leading them to see words as discrete, independent linguistic artifacts.
At the confluence of these two streams lies the “man in motion” quiz that I put together earlier this week and gave my students today. For a couple of blanks, the quiz relies on the students’ perception that a small figure is farther away than a large figure. Also, the key (embedded in the PDF as a layer you can toggle on and off) reflects some judgment calls; for example, you might want to accept עָמַד as well as קָם in the relevant space (though I think קָם fits better). Should you happen to use this quiz with your own Hebrew students or in your own self-guided study of the Hebrew language, please kindly leave a comment here. I like knowing that my work helps people, of course, but my friendly local tenure committee likes it, too.
As many Higgaion readers know, I teach Pepperdine’s Biblical Hebrew course sequence every other year (we don’t have high enough enrollments to offer it every year). Quite some time ago, before the reboot, I shared a Keynote slide I’d created to help students visualize the most common prepositions. Here now are slightly revised versions, with minor aesthetic improvements, as well as a related quiz on the מִלֵּי־יַחַס.