The verbal/linguistic skills of a student in a given language are enhanced by processing the same information through a variety of modes of apprehension. For example, writing out a text into equivalent lines of a prosodic or syntactic nature reinforces one’s sense of the way a language flows orally.
It is not that difficult to learn to parse a biblical text according to the prosody of the masoretic accents. Anyone who has learned to do so knows that one’s grasp of the language is greatly improved in the bargain.
It is also helpful to learn to analyze a text in terms of syntactic frames and information structure. Sad to say, a standard vocabulary and appropriate exercises for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students in this sense does not exist. Or perhaps they do and I am unaware of them.
Visual/spatial intelligence involves thinking in images and pictures, even colors. If syntactic, discourse, and prosodic analysis is expressed visually, one’s ability to assimilate it is greatly enhanced.
Musical intelligence involves learning through rhythm and melody. Many of us learn more easily if what we learn is sung, tapped out, or whistled.
The better ancient Hebrew grammars available today exploit this mode of apprehension in the learning of the language.
Logical/mathematical intelligence involves reasoning things out logically and clearly, and looking for abstract patterns and relationships. Things like brain teasers, puzzles, and strategy games help activate this intelligence
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence involves using one's whole body to express ideas and feelings. Things like miming, role playing, and other forms of animation activate this intelligence.
Interpersonal intelligence involves the ability to perceive and make distinctions in the moods, intentions, motivations, and feelings of other people. Things like group presentations (for example, staged dialogues), discussion of social issues, and games which require two or more players activate this intelligence.
Students with a high degree of solitary or intrapersonal intelligence are self-motivating. They thrive in their own quiet space, and march to the beat of a different drummer. They learn more easily with independent study, self-paced instruction, and individualized projects and games. Things like brainstorming and problem solving exercises – to which I was seldom introduced as a student: I invented and continue to invent my own - activate this intelligence. Examples: name all the parts of the body in ancient Hebrew from head-to-foot. Arrange the prepositions into a spatial diagram. List and categorize the most important particles or “function” words. The possibilities are endless.
In the next and final post of this series, I lay down the two most basic rules of thumb to follow in learning ancient Hebrew or any other language.