Effective Use of Chaverim B'Ivrit in Jewish Day Schools

Effective Use of Chaverim B’Ivrit in Jewish Day Schools 
By Mira Angrist

Chaverim B’Ivrit is a curriculum for teaching modern Hebrew as a second language to elementary students (grades 3 and above). It is linguistically sequential both in texts and tasks. The Hebrew language is learned in contexts relevant to the children’s lives and cultural backgrounds.

The lessons revolve around themes of interest to children including: family, friendship, traveling, food, and music. Each theme is presented from three perspectives: Jewish, modern Israeli culture, and general world knowledge.

The curriculum was written by experts in the fields of teaching Hebrew as a second language and was piloted in several schools around the United States.

The curriculum is available directly through the URJ Press as well as through bookshops that sell Israeli/Jewish educational resources. There are no prerequisites for using the curriculum; however, in order for the curriculum to be effective in Jewish day schools and maintain professional standards, some practices are recommended.

Ideal model

Five hours a week of Hebrew language class is recommended in order to succeed in learing a second language.

The units of the curriculum should be taught in order without skipping units or jumping levels of difficulty. Unit one should be introduced in third grade because of its linguistic and contextual relevance.

Complete between two and three books (chovrot) per year. This helps students reach proficiency.

All teachers and Hebrew department coordinators who use Chaverim B’Ivrit for the first time should participate in an introductory seminar (four to six hours) led  by Mira Angrist, URJ Hebrew specialist and Chaverim B’Ivrit teacher trainer). The introductory seminar may be held at each school separately or at a regional/national level in partnership with other schools. Ongoing workshops are recommended based on the teachers’ needs and interests.

Consultations with Mira Angrist are available upon request through school visits, e-mail, and phone calls.

Realistic model

Three to four hours a week of Hebrew language class.

If units are introduced out of order (for example, unit two is introduced first), make sure to teach and review with students the basic content from unit one. This is important because each unit builds on the previous one.

Complete between one and two workbooks per year in the first year of introducing the curriculum. Once a teacher feels comfortable and experienced with the curriculum between two and three units per year should be completed.

Schools that can afford it should invite Mira Angrist to host a workshop that offers tracks for new and experienced users of Chaverim B’Ivrit.

Consultations with Mira Angrist are available upon request via e-mail and phone calls.

Future support efforts will include additional teachers’ tools and resources available from the URJ and a network of teachers using Chaverim B’Ivrit connected through listservs, newsletters, and regular conference calls and webinars.