(1) The only way to learn a language well is to spend a God-awful amount of time with it.
(2) The only way to learn a language well is to read great gobs of it.
In the course of decades of reading, I’ve reduced to tatters a Snaith, a BHK, two BHSs, two Korens, and two JPS Hebrew-English Tanakhs (these last two are full of annotations to NJPSV with regard to translation options).
Mind you, that’s also because I traveled and relocated constantly over those decades. I always have a Hebrew Bible with me, in my backpack, briefcase, on the car seat, and on my desk. There is often one on my nightstand, though not in the bathroom; I do have rules. My wife will remember a birthday party she threw for me while we were both in seminary. After an hour of socializing, I had had enough, and snuck off into a corner to read Hebrew, oblivious to my surroundings.
Most people zone out into a world of their own on a regular basis. For some, it’s the sniff of motor oil, music, a crossword puzzle, or knitting that serves the purpose. For me, it has always been Hebrew.
The more text a student of ancient Hebrew has read such that she or he can sight-read it six months or more thereafter, the more Hebrew a student actually knows.
The best way to help students achieve this level of mastery is by setting the bar high in intermediate and advanced courses. In my view, someone with a graduate degree that includes a major in ancient Hebrew should be able to sight-read and exegete in accordance with a range of critical methods no less than half the corpus of ancient Hebrew literature inclusive of the Bible, epigraphic Hebrew, the Hebrew of Ben Sira, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Mishnah, and the piyyutim.
That’s the major in ancient Hebrew of my dreams. As of now, the final exam of my dreams is not one I could pass. What will I do when I can? Raise the bar all over again.