The Pedagogical Challenge Transforming Two Barriers into Bridges for Learners of Classical Languages

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Paul Overland
Jennifer Noonan
Benjamin Noonan
Robert (Bob) Stallman


The field of Second Language Acquisition has long since reached consensus that the most effective way to teach a foreign language is through “Communicative Methods” that immerse students in the language as soon and as fully as possible, requiring them to hear and speak—not translate—the new language. Are there lessons from this we can learn for teaching classical languages such as Greek and Hebrew? Below is an edited transcript of a panel sponsored by the National Association of Professors of Hebrew at the 2017 conference of the Society of Biblical Literature. The publication of Paul Overland’s textbook, Learning Biblical Hebrew Interactively (2016), provided the occasion for a group of Hebrew language instructors to reflect together on the challenges and possibilities of Second Language Acquisition communicative methods for teaching Biblical Hebrew.

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