Rothberg International School Hebrew Division Helps Revive an Endangered Language

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Senior teachers in the Division of Hebrew Language Instruction recently embarked on a unique project: they developed a program to help revive the Sami language. A group of Sami teachers from northern Norway (photo on right) came to the RIS three months ago to take the course, designed to provide them with tools for reviving their endangered native tongue.

Sami Teachers from NorwayIn an effort to prevent the loss of their native language, a group of Sami teachers visited the Hebrew University last year after hearing about the Ulpan methodology used by the Division – i.e., teaching the Hebrew language in Hebrew. Recognizing that in order to teach a language effectively it is important to train good teachers, the RIS launched a course designed specifically for teachers of Sami. It should be noted that the Division’s staff is highly experienced in teacher training, in light of the half-year program in teaching Hebrew as a Second Language offered annually at the RIS. The program was launched three months ago, when the first group of Sami teachers arrived at the RIS for a 10-day course. They experienced learning Hebrew in an intensive Hebrew class, while acquiring principles of language instruction. They also practiced applying these principles to teaching Sami, with the assistance of Division teachers. In light of the success of the first course, a second group of teachers is due to arrive in March. In addition, two RIS Hebrew teachers will be traveling to the Sami counties in May, to observe the teachers actually teaching the Sami language, to provide assistance to the teachers, and to hold final workshops to conclude the course.

Following the inaugral course, the officer in charge of Sami education wrote:

We are extremely satisfied with the results of this course and appreciate all the work Hebrew University has done for us. We are also impressed with the very high standard of teaching methodology displayed by your instructors. Our aim has been to find a method that we believe will help save endangered sami languages. With your help we now have a very good basis from which to continue this job.

The Hebrew Division is continuing to expand its teacher-training programs, with a special course for teachers from France opening shortly, as well as a program for U.S. teachers in the planning stages.

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