I'm not sure where the phrase "breaking teeth" originated, but it has been used to describe the painful process of decoding, letter-by-letter. For decades, when new Hebrew learners (whether children or adults) have been asked to read aloud and the process is usually very very slow and laborious - they "break their teeth."
But, of course, I'm here to tell you that there's a better way!
At the foundation of sound-to-print learning is the principle that people need to know the sounds of a language prior to tackling the print. For #OnwardHebrew, on a macro level that includes being introduced to Hebrew Through Movement, Jewish Life Vocabulary and regular t'fillah. However, on a micro level, when working on decoding, learners can be given cues that preview the sounds for them. Why? It offers them some of the tools that they automatically have gained in their native language.
Our Hebrew prayers, blessings, and texts like Torah and Haftarah were written 2000 years ago. The complex language and grammatical forms are difficult even for Hebrew native language speakers. Our new learners are at an even bigger disadvantage since they can't self-correct when decoding - think about the challenge when they see unfamiliar words like: וְשנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ.
So, instead of asking students to "sound out" a Hebrew word or phrase, we help them tremendously when we "cue" them in the four ways noted on the embedded image.
How can teachers learn to do this?
1) Share and discuss this short video that explains easy-to-implement "cueing up" teaching strategies: tinyurl.com/Sound2Print.
2) Offer copies of the "four strategies" image. Right click on it and either download ("Save As") or Copy. Then, paste the image into a document and print for easy reference. Alternatively, check the "Files" in the #OnwardHebrew Facebook group for a downloadable copy of higher resolution.
3) Experiment with the "cues" and have conversations with colleagues to tweak your practice!
Questions or comments? Please share them on the #OnwardHebrew Facebook group.
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