Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Setting up a Hebrew Language Lab

Our experimental technology grant is dedicated to using computer-assisted instruction (CAI) to improve conversational Hebrew skills in elementary school students in a day school setting. We chose to set up a mobile lab for logistical and instructional reasons:
The room in which the full-time Ivrit teacher, Mrs. Shoshana Javits, teaches is a small one, accommodating twelve to fifteen students. The interactive computer component will be only one of several facets of her teaching.
Mrs. Javits collaborates with the classroom Limudei Kodesh rebbeyim and morot, all of whom are fluent in Ivrit, but are not native speakers. They split the classes for conversational Ivrit sessions. The mobile lab will “live” in the Ivrit classroom, but can readily move to the regular Limudei Kosesh classrooms using our wireless network. We beefed up the signal throughout the building with several additional routers this summer for this purpose.
Mrs. Javits felt that she would have optimal success with this as a pilot program with specific student groups who are old enough to use laptops effectively and to work independently.

We have also been working out ways to assess the effectiveness of CAI for conversational language and are developing some ideas with our resource coordinator because of her background in language assessment.

After speaking with other schools that use CAI for Hebrew instruction, mostly for Ulpan/resource small group or individual support, we have decided to use Rosetta Stone software as our core program. It offers the widest range of skill levels and individual progress reports, which will be critical as more students begin to use it. Many Internet websites have been suggested to us to supplement and add interesting variety to the learning. We are very excited about getting started with the language lab. Suggestions are welcomed as well!

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