Page 117 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

Basic HTML Version

HARAMATI / HEBREW TEXTBOOKS
109
by the
heder
in the teaching o f Humash. The book o f Bereshit
was used in this m anner as a textbook for Hebrew by the well-
known Langenscheidt firm in Germany.
Beginning with the 17th century the study o f gramm ar was
added to translation and became a central feature in Hebrew
language teaching. T h e re was now developed the Grammar-
T ranslation approach. While still concentrating on the study
o f the classics, it lay more emphasis on the gramm ar than the
contents. During the 19th century many books were published
based on this approach. Its chief representative was Karl Plotz,
who p repa red textbooks for the study o f English and French.
These books relied on the constant repetition o f vocabulary and
grammatical rules. This approach was fu r th e r refined by two
educators, Ahn and Ollendorf, whose textbooks served as
models for the au thors o f Hebrew language texts du ring the
19th century.
The Translation Approach held sway in the teaching o f He­
brew down to the Haskalah period. With the advent o f the mod­
e rn period, the Grammar-Translation approach was adopted.
Wessely, like many o the r maskilim, stressed the importance o f
gramm ar and valued its role even for teaching the young. Small
wonder then that the G rammar-Translation approach obtained
in Hebrew language instruction th roughou t the 19th century
and in some instances even later.
Among the many textbooks that followed this approach were
those o f Ju d ah Leib Ben-Ze’ev (1764-1811), which consisted o f
a gramm ar
(Talmud Leshon Ever,
1796) and especially his reader
(Beit ha-Sefer,
1802), which was translated into a number o f lan­
guages and went into many editions th roughou t the 19th cen­
tury. These books, which were very long and detailed, were
difficult even for adults, so that Abraham Mapu (1808-1867)
undertook to p repare simpler textbooks that could be used by
children. Regarding his beg inner’s text
(Hanokh la-Naar,
1859)
he wrote: “they will learn from it in one month what they could
not learn until now in a year,” re ferr ing thereby to Ben Ze’ev’s
books. Various critics have said about Mapu’s textbooks that
they followed the patterns set by Ann and Ollendorf. However,
upon closer examination it is evident that Mapu improved upon
their methods, both in vocabulary and the content o f his sen­