By Eyal & Tzippy Rav-Noy
© 2012, CAP IT, Inc.
Countless students of the Hebrew language have a hard time reading Hebrew. Their reading is not accurate, their fluency is low, and they are embarrassed to read in public.
IN OUR OPINION THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! A phonetic language like Hebrew should be mastered by everyone! Yet we find so many struggling Hebrew readers. We believe that poor reading is an outcome of the outdated and linear teaching methods that are universally taught in Hebrew Schools, day schools, and Sunday schools around the world.
In creating our CAP IT!® Reading Products, our goal was to present a completely new paradigm in Hebrew reading. Thus, we did away with the old methods, and replaced them with newer, properly researched methods in education.
Below is our list of the top 12 mistakes made in many traditional Hebrew classes.
In most Hebrew teaching methods, students are taught to associate a particular visual symbol (a consonant or a vowel) with a particular sound. For instance, the student is told that a “Bet” has a B sound. But why? No one knows. So the student is stuck with the task of arbitrarily assigning various sounds to foreign shapes and symbols.
CAP IT!® removes this arbitrariness by providing unique Tactile Visual Mnemonics™ that look and sound like the consonants and vowels. We provide these associations for every single consonant and vowel in the Hebrew language. There are no exceptions. These visual aids help the students associate all the Hebrew characters with real-life images the students actually hold in their hand, store in their visual memory, and easily recall. The arbitrariness is out, and the easy phonetic reading begins.
Many Hebrew teachers are so concerned with fluency that they neglect — and even sacrifice — the accuracy. The truth is that Hebrew can be read phonetically, sound by sound, letter by letter, vowel by vowel. There are almost NO “sight words” in Hebrew! What you see is what you get (with very few exceptions).
The CAP IT!® program teaches students to break down each word to its smallest components, and shows them how to integrate them into whole words. For instance, a word like Israel would not be read altogether, but would be broken down and read: “Yee-s-rah-eh-l.” The same applies to all Hebrew words. Once perfect accuracy is achieved, the fluency is sure to follow.
In traditional methods, Hebrew is taught in the following order: At first, the students memorize all the consonants –– in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. Then they learn all the vowels. Only then do they begin putting the many combinations together in any meaningful pattern.
In CAP IT!®, the letters and vowels are taught out of order, so the students can begin putting together words and full sentences BEFORE they have memorized all the consonants and vowels. This makes the process easier, happier, and more fulfilling.
Most Hebrew teachers feel it necessary to first teach the names of the consonants and vowels, and only afterwards do they teach the sounds they make.
But there is absolutely no pedagogical value to be gained from knowing the names of the Hebrew letters and vowels. In fact, teaching the names of the many letters and vowels not only burdens the students with information they do not need to know, but actually confuses them and hinders them from learning the true sounds of the letters and (especially the) vowels.
One of the reasons for the CAP IT!® success is that all the consonants and all the vowels are simply called “Sounds.” So the reading process consists of three steps: Identify-Identify-Blend. First the student must identify the first sound (the consonant), then they identify the second sound (the vowel), and then they blend the two sounds together. This is a three step process (sometimes only two). For example, first the student would recognize the B (Identify), then the Ah underneath (Identify), and then blend the two to make a Bah (Blend).
Many schools engage in what we call “Single Step Reading” by turning these three steps into one step. A Bet and a Patach would be recognized as Bah, ignoring the three steps necessary to come to that conclusion. In other words, the student is not taught to break each word to its smallest components, but rather to recognize consonants with their vowels together.
The difference between the two methods is monumental. In CAP IT!® students are taught to decode. Other programs rely on sight recognition. In CAP IT!®, the student only has to identify 33 consonants and 12 vowels, and blend them together. In other methods the student has to identity and memorize about 350 different combinations. These 350 combinations function like sight-words. This means that CAP IT!® has about 9 times less items for the student to remember!
Most schools are almost too eager drop the block letters, and begin teaching the kids how to write in script. This means that students stop visualizing block letters — they type of letters they will ALWAYS need to read. For example, in English, it would be a mistake to drop lower-case letters and substitute them for only script letters or upper case letter. This is because the main format we read is in lower-case. Dropping the block letters and changing to script only weakens students’ ability to visualize block letters — a most important skill they will need to be good readers.
Most schools quickly drop the vowels. This means that students don’t get much practice writing words with vowels, which weakens students’ ability to visualize them. Considering that students will almost always read texts with vowels, it makes little sense to have them stop visualizing and practicing them.
A huge error made in most schools is the burdening of first-time-readers with over complicated and mostly unnecessary rules. The “Shvah” being a classic example.
There are three things teachers must keep in mind when it comes to the “Shvah” rules:
In CAP IT!® the “Shvah” is taught in a simple manner that avoids much unnecessary confusion. The same approach was used in regards to many other rules. If they were not absolutely necessary, we cut them out of our program!
Most Hebrew schools take months, sometimes years to teach kids to read Hebrew. The same goes for Jewish Day schools. The kids learn the Hebrew Alphabet year after year, then spend months learning to read Hebrew. But why drag out the ordeal over a period of months (even years)? It is annoying, frustrating, and may bring down the student’s morale.
Many schools actually time their students and chart their speed. We believe this is not only pointless, but destructive. When was the last time someone timed your reading speed? How would you like it if someone told you that you read TOO slow? Remember, this is a second (or even a third) language for most students.
In reality the student will read as fast as they can. The more they practice, the greater the speed. Timing them will not help.
Most students of the Hebrew language are lucky to have an interesting and talented teacher (thank goodness so many are). But the rest of the curriculum is dry repetition. To liven up the learning process and make it more fun, teachers have no choice but resort to candy, prizes, or some other irrelevant incentives.
CAP IT!® keeps things fun without resorting to bribes. Every sound comes with its very own toy which doubles as a Tactile Visual Mnemonic™. Every lesson takes the student through 3 learning centers where they play with toys, sing songs, and color. And the entire program is over in just hours!
CAP IT!® comes with a full-color workbook, pictures, songs, drawing exercises, toys and flashcards, making CAP IT!® the happiest learning curriculum of its kind.
(Concept And Personality Integration Technique)
Most learning methods are linear, catering to only one kind of learner, whereas CAP IT!® caters to all kinds of learners (visual, auditory, kinesthetic etc.), engaging their Mind, Heart, and gut Instinct –– thus involving the three centers of the human personality.
The Mind is stimulated as the student learns to recognize and visualize each sound through the use of our Tactile Visual Mnemonics™ (–toys). Thus the image and associated sound of each Hebrew consonant and vowel is seared into the visual memory of the student’s mind, always ready to be recalled.
The Heart is opened though the use of stories and songs, creating a narrative for each Hebrew sound. Thus the student relates, identifies, and connects with each Hebrew consonant and vowel on a personal level.
The student takes ownership of the material by recreating the sounds from memory and putting them to paper through various creative writing mediums such as pens, crayons, or even gluesticks.
The use of the Mind, Heart, and Instinct, ensures that the students use their entire personality in the learning process, hence our name: CAP IT!® (“Concept And Personality Integration Technique”).
We believe that these are some of the main reasons why some students are left behind, never learning to read Hebrew accurately and with confidence.
CAP IT!® offers a complete solution to Hebrew reading. We train, mentor, and support educators in their effort to teach Hebrew reading properly and painlessly. Please contact us with any questions regarding our products and services.