Dual Language Hebrew Early Childhood Classroom at Beth Elohim
This Site Visit Journal will help you understand one particular community's approach through the eyes of their educational leader.
Congregation Beth Elohim, Brooklyn, NY
Dual Language Hebrew Immersion
Jacqueline Israel, School Director
Jacqueline Israel (Jaci) has enjoyed a long relationship with the early childhood center where she began her teaching career in 1986. Since then she has coordinated pre-k programs for several non-profit agencies and initiated the Project Reach Youth’s Universal Pre-K Program. She has also worked extensively with elementary age students with learning disabilities as a teacher at the Mary McDowell Center and as an Orton Gillingham tutor. Jaci has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s degree in Special Education. Her proudest achievements by far are her son Luke and daughter Bridget.
Description of School Change/Innovation:
Congregation Beth Elohim’s (CBE) early childhood center recognizes that the acquisition of a second language can be a tremendous benefit to any child. Of course, at CBE we have a special relationship to Hebrew. While every class has some exposure to Hebrew through songs and celebrating Shabbat, our Dual Language track offers the opportunity for children to actively learn through both English and Hebrew. The classroom will feature one teacher speaking only Hebrew while the other teacher speaks only English. Utilizing children’s natural ability to acquire language, this gentle and playful classroom setting adheres to our developmental interactive philosophy by presenting children with active, hands-on curriculum based on their interests – in two languages.
"Today made me think about a classroom setup where one teacher speaks only Hebrew and the other, only English. The concept is very interesting and one I'd never thought of before."
More about Beth Elohim’s Innovation:
Five years ago, Jaci was asked to develop a dual-language curriculum for the preschool. With a healthy mix of practical hesitation and enthusiasm, Jacqi embarked on a two year investigation and an intense preparatory period, which ultimately generated a unique Hebrew/English dual-language curriculum for her school and the CBE community.
Jaci’s journey, like many successful journeys down the road to innovation, was not immediate. Jacqueline chose to carefully prepare herself, her staff, and her community and take important steps along the way to ensure a good beginning. Now, two years into the implementation phase, CBE's immersion program is already serving as a model for others. Educators who visited CBE were treated to an overview of the program by Jacqueline, classroom observations, and a question and answer session with involved staff.
Site Visit artifacts:
Forward Thinking/Guided Questions:
How is Hebrew language currently a part of your curriculum/classroom?
Can you think of any daily activities that could introduce Hebrew language on a more regular basis?
- Contemporary Language Teaching Methods for Children in their Early Years