Faculty Experiences - Nancy Ezer
Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
What matters most to you in your teaching?How are you using technology as a tool to achieve your teaching goals?
How have your students responded to your use of technology?
What new goals do you have for using technology in teaching?
How could the university better facilitate the use of technology in instruction?
Instilling Love for Language and Grammatical Competence Using Authentic Sources and an Electronic Workbook
my instruction, I strive to instill in my students love for the Hebrew
language and excitement for entering a new culture. I seek to balance
authentic linguistic materials with the systematic practice of grammar.
I regularly use multimedia while providing students with a
comprehensive linguistic framework. My teaching goals are to bring
language to life, develop grammatical competence, and take the learning
process beyond the classroom.
I regularly integrate tapes, songs, films, and educational video clips with a workbook I authored which rigorously drills grammatical forms and structures. During the past year, I have designed and I am pilot-testing a creative new program in my Hebrew classes. With a grant from the UCLA Committee on Instructional Improvement Programs and under the guidance of the Center for Digital Humanities at UCLA, a team of my former students and I have converted the three-volume Hebrew workbook I have developed over the course of many years of teaching into an interactive, web-based E-Workbook. Adapting UCLA’s new course management system, CCLE Moodle, and its quiz feature for this project offers the opportunity to take grammatical practice out of the classroom, while providing students with comprehensive supervision and enabling more efficient use of class time.
The E-Workbook, which systematically drills the five active Hebrew verb paradigms, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and syntax, complements Hebrew instruction using authentic sources. It provides rigorous grammatical practice and immediate, individualized feedback, expanding learning outside the classroom. Students further have an incentive to make unlimited attempts at each assignment and completely grasp each new skill in order to get a perfect score. Not only does the E-Workbook provide rigorous grammatical practice, but it further makes use of technology to integrate instruction on pronunciation. Students are required to transliterate their answers into English, and when they provide the correct answer, they get the Hebrew word vocalized as feedback.
Additionally, the Hebrew E-Workbook with its independent and self-paced training can fill in students’ knowledge gaps at higher levels of Hebrew learning. As the E-Workbook is comprehensive and has charts, examples, a glossary, and practice exercises before each assignment, it can both supplement any Hebrew learning textbook or be used on its own.
The E-Workbook has also maximized learning opportunities through more comprehensive supervision of student progress. It has provided me with a sophisticated monitoring tool of my students’ progress. I have access to information about the students’ study habits and performance, the level of difficulty of each assignment, and the amount of time it takes each student to complete it.
The E-Workbook further enables more effective use of instructor and class time. It has saved me countless hours spent grading and regarding students’ assignments. Additionally, the E-Workbook has freed about ten minutes of precious class time, which used to be devoted to questions on the homework, to the much needed practice of four language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
Since most current texts of Modern Hebrew for beginners compromise the rational order of teaching the Hebrew verb system for the sake of topics dealing with real-life situations, there is a need for a comprehensive framework and systematic practice of grammatical forms which the Hebrew E-Workbook can fulfill. It is the first program of its kind at UCLA, and it is applicable to the teaching of other foreign languages. In fact, this project has already inspired our Persian program to follow its model. The Hebrew E-Workbook greatly enhances Hebrew acquisition and can serve as an example for effective use of technology in language teaching.
Students are taking full advantage of the electronic medium. The electronic format allows students to instantly resubmit their assignments eliminating loss of time and the need to refresh their memory. Most of them are making unlimited attempts at each assignment in order to get a perfect score. The immediacy and ease of resubmissions provided by the technology encourage them to work on their assignments until they have fully grasped each new skill.
As for new goals for using technology in teaching, I would like to add an audio component to the Hebrew E-Workbook.
I am grateful to the Center for Digital Humanities and Office of Instructional Development for making this project possible and allowing me to realize my vision for an electronic interactive workbook.