Men’s Advanced Hebrew Requirement Shortened to 1 Semester
The advanced Hebrew track on the Wilf Campus has undergone several shifts this past semester to help improve the curriculum for students. In previous semesters, the advanced track was spread out over two courses: 1305 and 1306. Next spring, the curriculum will be changed to combine the two classes into one. Additionally, there is a brand new course being offered — 1406 — for students seeking to improve their ability to speak Hebrew in a conversational manner.
All Yeshiva College and Sy Syms School of Business students are required to take Hebrew language as undergraduates. Prior to the students’ first semester, they are required to take a YU-administered placement examination to determine which Hebrew track they belong in: elementary, intermediate, upper-intermediate or advanced. Highly-advanced students are able to be exempted from Hebrew requirements if extreme proficiency in Hebrew is shown on a subsequent placement exam.
Students who are placed in the elementary track are required to complete Hebrew 1004, 1005 and 1006, which meet three times per week and span three semesters. Students placed in the intermediate track are required to complete Hebrew 1105 and 1106, which meet twice per week and span three semesters. Students placed in the upper intermediate track take Hebrew 1205 and Hebrew 1206, which meet twice per week and span two semesters. Starting new next semester, the advanced track will be combined into one course, Hebrew 1305, which will be offered only in Spring semesters.
“Teaching Hebrew at YU is a particular educational challenge, because students come in with a huge range of backgrounds and skills, and rarely have those been acquired systematically,” explained Jewish Studies Chair Dr. Aaron Koller. So we have a wide range of Hebrew programs to try to meet the students where they are, and continue their Hebrew progress.”
Regarding the change of combining the 1305 and 1306 courses, Koller related, “The new single-semester course obviously will not cover as much as the old 1305-1306 sequence, but in our judgment it will cover a sufficient amount for those strong students who enter with the advanced knowledge of Hebrew reflected in their placement into 1305.”
Unique to this semester, an additional course, Hebrew 1406, has been created to help students who excel at grammatical Hebrew an opportunity to thrive at conversational Hebrew. “This semester Hebrew 1406 is offered to students who have taken 1305 and wish to complete their Hebrew requirement with a practical application of what they have learned as opposed to continuing to learn the rules and patterns of Hebrew grammar in 1306,” said Professor Sigal Shalom, YC’s Hebrew program coordinator. “Next semester 1406 will be offered to students who have completed either 1305 or 1206 where they mastered the principles of grammar and can now apply them in writing and conversing about advanced Hebrew texts.”
Students currently enrolled in Hebrew 1406 are pleased with the course. "Hebrew 1406 was an opportunity to take what I learned last semester and apply it in day-to-day conversational Hebrew,” Ilan Sasson (SSSB ‘20) remarked. “Since the beginning of the semester, my skills and my comfort level have both improved, and I feel now that I can apply both the grammar skills and the speaking skills in unison."
“The 1406 class has been a great success because our students are motivated to learn Hebrew for different reasons — some for reading classical texts, others for having conversations with their Israeli colleagues and friends, or engaging in Israel society more broadly. The 1406 course has allowed those students who want to master Israeli Hebrew to work on those skills,” Koller said.
“A class like 1406 is necessary in a world that keeps becoming more and more connected,” Shalom said. “It will serve students who will have professional and personal communication with people in Israel and especially those who make Aliyah and will need to express themselves on a high level.”