(In English) A Contrastive Method of Teaching Hebrew to Arabic speaking People (Based on an adequate comparative grammar)

A Contrastive Method of Teaching Hebrew to Arabic speaking People

(Based on an adequate comparative grammar).[1]




Mohammed-V University of Rabat




Introduction and summary


The conception of an adequate Language Teaching Assessment, as a pedagogical measures and means, depends on the adequacy of the Teaching Program Contents; and this latter derives, as a function, from the targeted initial-to-final Profile of the Learner. In all theses respects, the Contrastive Method of Teaching is believed to be the most efficient one in teaching a Second Language.

In teaching a Second Language (L2), which is typologically akin to the Mother/Native Language (L1), Contrastive Method consists in singling out the main regular correspondences and salient differential points of the grammar for L1 and L2, in order to focus the teaching program content on them as a basis of the contrastive teaching method.

This global conception is the one the author of the present paper adopted during his fifteen years (1985- up to now: 2000) of teaching Hebrew as a foreign language at university to students mastering Arabic (Moroccan students) for whom Hebrew was perceived, at their Moroccan sociolinguistic and socio-cultural context of the time as a quite remote language. This paper defines the main tenets of that experienced Contrastive Method of teaching Hebrew as L2 to people mastering Arabic, a method settled on the basis of a set of generalizations about regular correspondences deduced from comparing the relevant fragments of an adequate descriptive grammar of each language, L1 (Arabic) and L2 (Hebrew).[2]


In section I, we expose the advocated teaching method as a whole. Its relevant teaching program focuses on the correspondence and differential points of grammar listed in section-II. This program associates, in a balanced way, comparative linguistic elements to reading and writing training of Hebrew, in a way that enables the learner to valorise his own lexical and grammatical knowledge of L1 in  developing an inductive knowledge that enables him to infer his own L1 forms from their corresponding L2 forms he is exposed to. That means, for example, that the student should not have to memorize new idiosyncratic lexical information, item by item, in learning L2. Instead, the student is made - more or less implicitly, or explicitly depending on his overall level and special study - aware of the regular phonological and morphological correspondences between the two typologically and genetically akin languages, Cl-Ar and B-Heb. That awareness enables him to infer directly his own L1 items from their respective correspondents in the targeted L2, without having to resort to dictionaries and, when necessary, to know how to consult a Hebrew dictionary organized on the basis of lexical roots which do not always surface sound in actual words. Section III is a table that exposes the main relevant correspondences between the two languages, formally stated and given referential numbers. Section IV is a corpus of comparative examples (Ns, Vs, Adj; NP and VP) listed before the referential numbers of the correspondence generalizations of sec. III implied in each comparative example. Finally, Section V sketches some concrete results of the advocated method in the light of the sociolinguistic status of Hebrew in Morocco.



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[1] A first version of this paper was sent to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s

International Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization, as a written contribution in: “The Continuing Workshop on University Teaching of Hebrew Language”. Jerusalem, July 2-6 2000.


[2] According to A. Prince & P. Smolensky, typological differences between languages in general consist in a set of parametrical settings with respect to Universal Grammar phonological, morphological and syntactic principles and constraints. Concerning akin languages/dialects, many centuries before the New Grammarians phonetic laws correspondences were established for Germanic languages, the FIRST linguistic comparative school was launched in North Africa and Andalusia in the 10th and 11th centuries on the basis of Arabic-Hebrew-Aramaic linguistic comparison, through works by Yehuda Ben Quraysh (see Dan Beker 1984), Ibn Baron (see  קאקאווצאוו-1890) and Saadia Gaon (see Dotan 1997) namely.



Mohamed Elmedlaoui




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