Sunday, January 8, 2017

Why Focus on Strategies?

People ask about the name "Strategic Hebrew" all the time: "Why 'Strategic?'"  What do you do? 

I like to respond that language learning (and any other type of learning, for that matter) is all about strategies.  It's a question of how well we can use what we know to help us in our lives.

As the proverb goes, if you give a man a fish, you have reached one level of charity.  However, if you teach him how to fish, you have rescued him from needing charity in the future, since he will have developed the skills to fend for himself.

All too often we focus on knowledge as finite, measurable quantities.  Some knowledge may be finite (times tables, laws of physics, etc.) and much is measurable, but how often do we pay attention to the quality of the thought process that helps us arrive at the answers?  Yes, there are certain pieces of information--facts, figures, etc, that are helpful to have at our fingertips through memorization.  For everything else, there is time... and strategy.  

Once you know how to read a map, you can find not only the grocery store, but the bank, the library, and the ice cream parlor.  Think how much more powerful you feel knowing you have the wherewithal to navigate your own way around town!  If you've ever watched a child learning to read, you know how proud they are when they finally connect the sounds to make a recognizable word. 

More than the success of the moment, it's the realization that they can do it again in the future that bolsters the rush. 

When applied to language learning, this suggests a new and different approach.  If we step away from memorization of verb families for the moment, we can "zoom out" to see the interconnectedness of all the different parts of speech and the beauty and versatility of the 3-letter Hebrew root which serves as the foundation of the language.  Once you learn the how to work with roots, you begin to understand how to manipulate them to suit different communicative purposes.  Suddenly the value of all parts of the language become clear and the learner can bring the pieces together for practical application.  

Strategic Hebrew is about focusing on the forest in order to appreciate the trees that make up the beautiful language, and then using that conceptual understanding to best advantage.