Learning biblical hebrew vocabulary : insights from second language vocabulary acquisition

Thompson, Jeremy Paul (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2011-12)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Though Biblical Hebrew (=BH) is no longer a spoken language, students continue to learn it for the purpose of reading, or at least interacting at a deeper level, with the text of the Hebrew Bible. This suggests that BH shares with any modern language learning course the goal of learning to read. One important part of learning to read is the acquisition of an adequate number of vocabulary items. The purpose of this study is to determine which insights from Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition (=SLVA) research and related fields hold the most promise for a new — and possibly more effective — approach to learning BH vocabulary, to evaluate currently existing BH instructional materials in light of these insights, to develop a new approach based on these insights, and to test aspects of the new approach empirically. Researchers in SLVA have uncovered a number of helpful insights concerning how vocabulary and vocabulary learning should be defined as well as concerning how vocabulary is best learned. On the other hand, BH instructional materials reflect little to no influence from these insights. These materials have continued to define vocabulary narrowly as individual words and continued to conceive of vocabulary learning primarily as pairing form and meaning in contrast to the much more sophisticated definitions found in the SLVA literature. For example, SLVA researchers consider items beyond the word level, such as idioms, to be vocabulary (Moon 1997; Lewis 1993, 1997). BH instructional materials have also failed to include a significant number of beneficial Vocabulary Learning Strategies (=VLSs), while including some VLSs that are either intrinsically problematic or problematic in the ways they are employed. For example, the strategy of learning semantically related items together is common in BH instructional materials, though it has been shown to be problematic in a considerable number of experimental studies (e.g. Nation 2000; Finkbeiner & Nicol 2003; Papathanasiou 2009). Since SLVA research has yet to influence BH instructional materials, a new approach to BH vocabulary learning is warranted. This new approach is based on sound theory concerning what vocabulary is and what it means to learn it, while offering learners as many helpful strategies for learning lexical items as possible. To justify this new approach, a set of experimental studies was run including one longitudinal case study and three larger-scale experiments. This testing was partial in nature since it was only possible to test one variable at a time. The testing revealed a number of important areas for future research into BH vocabulary learning.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Alhoewel Bybelse Hebreeus (=BH) nie meer gepraat word nie, hou studente aan om dit aan te leer vir die doel om te lees, of ten minste om op ‘n dieper vlak met die oorspronklike teks van die Hebreeuse Bybel om te gaan. Dit impliseer dat die aanleer van BH net soos met die aanleer van moderne tale, ten doel het om die taal te kan lees. Een belangrike aspek van om te leer lees, is om die woordeskat aan te leer wat vir hierdie doel nodig is. Die doel van hierdie studie is om vas te stel watter insigte, verkry uit Tweede Taal Woordeskat-Aanleer (=TTWA) navorsing en ander verwante studievelde, die meeste belofte inhou vir ‘n nuwe – en moontlik meer effektiewe – benadering tot die leer van BH woordeskat; om huidige BH leermateriaal te evalueer, in lig van hierdie insigte; om ‘n nuwe benadering te ontwikkel gebaseer op hierdie insigte; en om aspekte van die nuwe benadering empiries toets. Navorsers in TTWA het al heelwat insig verkry in hoe woordeskat en die aanleer van woordeskat gedefineer behoort te word, sowel as aangaande die mees effektiewe maniere waarop woordeskat aangeleer kan word. Dit lyk egter of beskikbare BH leermanier niks of baie min by hierdie insigte baatgevind het. Hierdie materiaal handhaaf tipies ‘n baie nou definisie van wat woordeskat is, te wete, individuele woorde. Dit beskou dus die aanleer van woordeskat as die aanleer van hoofsaaklik woordpare met verskillende vorme en betekenisse, in plaas daarvan om die meer gesofistikeerde definisies te gebruik wat in TTWA literatuur gevind word. TTWA navorsers beskou, byvoorbeelde idiome, wat uit meer as een woord kan bestaan, ook as woordskat-eenhede (Moon 1997; Lewis 1993, 1997). BH leermateriaal gebruik selde van die groot getal beskikbare nuttige Woordeskat Leer- Strategieë (=WLS). Daar word eerder dikwels strategieë gebruik wat volgens TTWA navorsing nie baie effektief is nie.’n Goeie voorbeeld in hierdie verband is die strategie om semanties-verwante items saam te leer. Empiriese navorsing het aangetoon dat hierdie strategie sonder twyfel problematies kan wees (bv. Nation 2000; Finkbeiner & Nicol 2003; Papathanasiou 2009). Aangesien TTWA feitelik nog geen beduidende invloed op BH leermateriaal gehad het, is ‘n nuwe benadering tot die aanleer van BH woordeskat waarin TTWA insigte verreken word, geregverdig. Hierdie nuwe benadering is gebaseer op ‘n deeglik begrondige teoriese model aangaande wat woordeskat is, en wat dit beteken om dit te leer. Verder kan geput word uit die skat van nuttige strategieë wat al in TTWS geïdentifiseer is om sodoende aan BH leerder strategieë te bied wat hulleself al bewys het. Om die nuwe benadering empiries te begrond, is ‘n reeks eksperimentele studies geloods. Nie alle aspekte van die nuwe model kon sistematies getoets word nie. Die grondslag vir verdere navorsing is egter gelê.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/17819
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