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Literature on the Tip of the Tongue

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Literature on the Tip of the Tongue
(Sifrut Al Ketzeh HaLashon)
Intermediate Hebrew Textbook & Workbook
By Edna Genossar Grad
Illustrations by Nina Miller
Northwestern University Press
Textbook (1987): ISBN: 0-8101-0768-6
Workbook (1988): ISBN: 0-8101-0769-4

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - April 5, 2005

Literature on the Tip of the Tongue (Sifrut Al Ketzeh HaLashon) is an Intermediate Hebrew Textbook that was written expressly to bridge the gap between introductory level Hebrew Course and the study of Hebrew Literature. Literature on the Tip of the Tongue consists of a textbook and companion workbook.

Both the textbook and workbook are written entirely in Hebrew, with the exception of a short introduction to the text. Written by Edna Genossar Grad, the Intermediate Hebrew text presupposes that students have already acquired a vocabulary of between 400 and 600 words and that they are familiar with basic Hebrew grammar, and 4-5 verb patterns. Upon completion of the material in this text, students will find that are well on their way to being able to read a variety of forms of Hebrew literature including Biblical texts, modern literature, and newspapers with ease. Both voweled (Hebrew with nikud) and unvowelized reading sections are provided.

This text is unique in that it is based entirely on actual selections from Hebrew literature. These selections are used as the basis from which to review and expand upon the student's grasp of Hebrew grammar and vocabulary skills, as well as their ability to read, write, and speak Hebrew efficiently. The text quickly builds upon the basic skills that the students bring to the course, introducing more complicated topics by in incremental and logical segments. New vocabulary is introduced in each chapter, new linguistic features are explained in detailed, and students quickly advance from writing single sentences to writing short essays. Ample opportunity exists to practice oral skills via oral presentations and the conversational sections included throughout the text. Once a topic is introduced, it is reviewed throughout the rest of the text.

The text selection in Literature on the Tip of the Tongue is derived from colloquial, formal, Biblical, and rabbinic literary sources, providing students with exposure to the breadth of Hebrew literature and literary forms. The complete texts of these selections can be found at the end of the textbook, providing the opportunity for additional reading practice. Each unit includes an introductory conversation, an explanation of one or more grammar topics, and a variety of exercises that provided practice in writing and which reinforce the information already studied. Each unit includes a selection of additional readings in both prose and poetry. Exercises are also included that provide additional drills for the student. These drills should be supplemented by the assignment of work from the Intermediate Hebrew Workbook. The exercises in the workbook, which correspond to the material in the text, can be used simply as a means of review for the student or as a source for homework assignments. The pages in the workbook are printed on one side only, and were designed to be used as sheets to be 'handed-in' to the instructor for correction. Exercises in the workbook include fill-in the blank exercises, circle the correct word, and 'answer the question' sections that require answers as brief as one or two words to as long as a short essay.

According to the text's introduction, much of the material contained Literature on the Tip of the Tongue has been used at Northwestern University in second-year Hebrew classes. It can also serve as the textbook for a second semester Hebrew course for advanced students, following on the heels of an introductory text such as Menahem Mansoor's Contemporary Hebrew textbook. The Literature on the Tip of the Tongue textbook and workbook combo are designed for use in a college-level classroom setting with the language of instruction being Hebrew only. Despite being designed for use in an instructor-led course, motivated self-learners will also find this book invaluable, especially in the realm of improving their reading and writing skills.

In Conclusion

The Literature on the Tip of the Tongue series, both the textbook and workbook, are highly recommended to both students and teachers looking for an intermediate text to bridge the gap between introductory instruction and the concentrated study of Hebrew literature. The text follows an intuitive method of instruction that is both informative and fun. Many instructional texts are filled with pedantic reading sections that are a chore to read and study. The wide variety of literary selections and exercises found in this text provide an exciting mix of material that will enthrall students and provide them with the preparation and skills necessary to tackle complete works of Hebrew literature.


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