The Old Testament is a fascinating group of books, and the language in which most of it is written is just as fascinating. I have been learning Biblical Hebrew for almost two years now, and I’ve had the privilege of helping the newer Hebrew students through their journey of learning the biblical language. I tutor each of the second semester Biblical Hebrew students for an hour each week, and I genuinely enjoy it. Learning any unfamiliar language can be a serious challenge, especially when you are learning an ancient language, but with the help of an experienced tutor it is doable and enjoyable.
As you probably already know, Biblical Hebrew has a set of characters making up its alphabet that is completely different than the characters that make up the English language. It also has grammatical rules and irregularities that are dissimilar to those in English. Even though we often work with familiar passages from the Old Testament, it is difficult to read, comprehend, and translate the subject matter in its original language. It requires diligent practice and attentive guidance to be able to learn this language.
Fortunately for me, the class in which I started learning Biblical Hebrew was very small, so the professor, Dr. Stephen Bennett, was very accessible to me. When I had questions or was uncertain about translations, I had frequent opportunities to sit with him one-on-one and learn from him. Unfortunately for the current beginners, this class is larger and Dr. Bennett cannot devote as much time to each individual student. That’s where I come in. I am accessible to each of the students for one-on-one time when they have questions or concerns.
My work as a tutor is not very difficult; it is the student who does the bulk of the work. A typical tutoring session will consist of reviewing Hebrew vocabulary, going over that week’s memory verse, and/or working through that week’s textbook lesson. The students will read the material aloud and translate it while I sit back and listen. If they read or translate incorrectly, I stop them and redirect them to where they made the mistake. If they get stuck or do not know what to do next, I coach them in the direction they need to think and feed them certain information that they might not have previously considered. If they have questions, I am there to answer them. I love to help students with the same issues that I used to struggle with, and I love even more to see the progress each student makes with time and effort.