Page 122 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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In Palestine there were th ree teachers who had each devel­
oped methods for teaching according to the Natural Approach
without being aware o f the efforts o f his colleagues: Yehudah
Grazovsky (Gur), David Yellin and Yitzhak Epstein.6 Both Yellin
and Epstein p repa red texts based on the Natural Approach.
Le-Fi ha-Taf,
(1900-1901) and Epstein’s
Ivrit be-Ivrit,
(1901) were widely used in Palestine as well as in the “Reformed
H adarim ” in Europe , which adop ted the Natural Approach.
This approach also became known as Ivrit be-Ivrit.
With the Influx o f Hebrew teachers from Europe there a r ­
rived in the United States teachers from the “Reformed Ha­
dar im ” who b rough t with them the Ivrit be-Ivrit approach. Z.H.
Neumann, who established a Hebrew school in Brooklyn in
1893, is considered a p ioneer o f the Natural Approach in the
United States. It appears, however, that already in 1851 there
was a Hebrew teacher by the name o f Simon Noot, who taugh t
spoken Hebrew according to his own Natural Method in Con­
gregation Bnai Israel in New York.7. It is not clear, however,
whether he adop ted his approach from the literature dealing
with foreign language instruction o r that he arrived at it in­
tuitively. The same may be said regard ing similar efforts made
in the middle o f the 19th century by Joseph Halevi, who began
to teach Hebrew as a living language in 1850, and by his disciple
Baruch M itrani.8
Beginning with the end o f the 19th century various textbooks
were published on the basis o f the Natural Approach both in
Palestine and the Diaspora. Many variants o f the Approach were
developed. The first Ulpan Approach, followed du r ing the
years 1949-1961, was such a variant, bu t it was less successful
than the earlier approaches o f Yellin and Epstein. To this day
Hebrew is being taugh t in many schools according to one o f
the many variants o f the Natural Approach .9
With the advent o f the 20th century two contrasting trends
were seen regard ing the aims o f Hebrew language instruction
6. See
My Three First Teachers
(in Hebrew, Jerusalem: 1984).
7. Note 2, pp. 418-424.
8. See my
Three Who Preceded Ben-Yehuda
(in Hebrew, Jerusalem: 1972).
9. See my
The Ulpan Method
(in Hebrew, Jerusalem: 1972), pp. 63-80; 108-124.