I Hate Normal Flashcards: Towards a New Solution for Biblical Hebrew!

There, I said it!  I don’t like flashcards and I never did.  My loathing of these ubiquitous scraps of paper likely stems from my elementary school days, but now I can more clearly articulate why I don’t like them. 

Standard vocabulary flashcards don’t provide a context, and context is one of the most important building blocks for language acquisition.  Language, by its nature, is a contextual enterprise.  I could wax poetic for a considerable amount of time on why I don’t like (L1-L2) flash cards, but I will refrain.  The purpose of this post is to introduce something that I have been working on, Flash Scenes.  This venture began as the integrative project for my Masters in Religion degree at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

I have designed several images to help students learn classical Hebrew vocabulary.  I am a visual learner, and I wanted to create something that would aid students like me.  I am not exactly sure what I will do with all of the vocabulary images that I have created, but I thought I would share with you a set I designed to help students begin to master some basic biblical Hebrew prepositions.  I hope you enjoy!

(Click Here to access the  Hebrew Preposition Slides or click on the Language Resource tab on the top of the page).

p.s. I invite you, the readers of this blog, to use these images; however, I ask that you do not house these images on another webpage.  Instead of re-posting these images, please provide a hyperlink to this page.  Also, if you would like a higher resolution image, then feel free to email me.

12 comments to I Hate Normal Flashcards: Towards a New Solution for Biblical Hebrew!

  • Adam Couturier

    Thanks, Ryan. I appreciate the compliment.

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Adam Couturier, Adam Couturier. Adam Couturier said: Just posted some visual aids for learning Hebrew prepositions. Check it out http://tiny.cc/139sl [...]

  • Paul D.

    I can’t count how many times I’ve tried making flashcards and them abandoned them in my language studies. They’re just such a boring way to learn, and like you, I’m a visual learner and need to see the context and interconnectedness of words and concepts rather than just memorizing them by rote.

  • Adam Couturier

    Paul, thanks for stopping by my blog. I completely understand your frustrations. That image on the left of this post is only a sampling of the different vocab. aids that I have used over the years to learn Hebrew vocab. My hope is that vocabulary aquisition strategies (especially for dead languages) will take a big leap in the future.

    p.s. I love the avatar.

  • Adam, this happened to pop up in my Twitter feed just as I sat down with my Biblical Hebrew class. We looked through your sample and they were really pleased with what you’ve done.

    I have a medium-to-long-term project of producing similar “flashcards,” using photographs and clip art for about 400 vocabulary words (weighted both toward biblical frequency and communicative usefulness). When they’ve begun to come together, I’ll make sure to solicit some criticism from you and compare notes.

    Again, thanks for the great timing! :^)

  • Hey bro,

    You should ask Jeremy Thompson for a copy of his recently finished dissertation. Its all on L2 vocab learning and its BADASS!


  • Another thing……

    How (in the future) might you treat polysemies? I, along with you, prefer images to English glosses, but these still advance a 1-to-1 description of meaning. All of these preps do much more than the pics allow. Perhaps we must resign ourselves to the fact that vocab learning is imperfect and only a way to introduce L2 learners to the symbols of a new language.


  • Adam Couturier

    Brooke, I am glad that you and your class were pleased with my work. At the moment, I believe I have 250 words graphically illustrated under this project. However, I have deviated from word frequency as an organizing principle, although the represented English glosses in my images are numbered by gloss usage.

    It has been a fun project, although very time consuming. I don’t consider myself much of an artist, and the tools I use are rather crude. I’m sure the project would move faster if I had better tools or more artistic ability. I was trying to enlist the help of some professional artists, but none of my artist friends were interested. So I will continue to produce them at a snail’s pace. I have a great cultic scene that is almost finished, although I am having some trouble creating/finding a scenery to use as the base for my illustrated cutouts.

    I would love to see some of your stuff when you are finished. Solicit away!

    Also, I love the music video that you are using in your Hebrew class. I saw that on your twitter feed this morning. Great find! If you are looking for more Hebrew videos check out Disney’s Under the Sea (found on youtube). I found it helpful to illustrate the flexibility of prepositions.


  • Adam Couturier

    Daniel, it is great to hear from you! How are you and Tonya doing these days?

    Thanks for the tip. I will have to check out Jeremy’s work. His name sounds very familiar. Is he a blogger?

    Regarding polysemies, I treat different usages separately. I am trying to treat vocabulary acquisition in a very different way, then it typically is treated. I am trying to work on contextual strategies for learning L2 words. Creating controls for this project has been difficult, but I am happy with my current solution. We should chat sometime soon. I would love to catch up with you anyhow.


  • [...] Testament in GreekLarry Hurtado: Textual Stability of NT WritingsAdam Couturier (משלי אדם): I Hate Normal Flashcards: Toward a New Solution for Biblical Hebrew!Kevin Brown (Diglotting): Insightful Christology Quote from DunnDaniel Kirk (Storied Theology): O [...]

  • [...] I have entered into a discussion of Biblical Hebrew vocabulary learning that has been taking place on a couple of blogs.  You can see my post here and the posts where the discussion kind of took off here and here. [...]

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