The Center for Jewish Civilization administers Hebrew courses with the Georgetown College. In 2014, the curriculum was revamped to ensure that students are exposed to a program of high academic rigor and language learning. A minor in Hebrew is available to students from any school. Within the College, Hebrew language study can fulfill the core language requirement. For more information on the College’s language requirements, please visit the Faculty of Language and Linguistics page. In the School of Foreign Service, Hebrew is one of the languages in which students can fulfill the language proficiency requirement. More information about the Hebrew proficiency exam is available below. MSFS students can find out more on the MSFS language requirements page.
The Georgetown Hebrew Program is fortunate to have a strong teaching faculty in Professor Meital Orr and Professor Sara Grayson. Professor Orr has a doctorate in Modern Jewish Literature from Harvard University and a M.A. in Comparative Hebrew Literature from Columbia University. She has extensive experience teaching Hebrew at both Harvard and Columbia and has been teaching Hebrew at Georgetown for four years. Professor Grayson received her M.A. and B.A. in Jewish Education and Jewish Studies, respectively, from Baltimore Hebrew University and has taught Hebrew at American University and other institutions including the U.S. Air Force.
For information regarding placement into Hebrew courses please visit the language placement guidelines page and for more information on Hebrew language programs, please contact Professor Orr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weekly Hebrew Conversation Hour
The CJC sponsors a weekly Hebrew language conversation hour (with free coffee/pastries!) for Hebrew students of every level, run this semester by Hebrew TA, Nathan Wecht. All Hebrew speakers are welcome and encouraged to attend! The conversation group meets at the ballerina statue of More Uncommon Grounds (MUG) in the ICC (third floor) every week. Hebrew Conversation Hour takes place every Wednesday from 5:00 – 6:00 PM.
For more information or to sign up for the Hebrew Conversation Hour mailing list, please contact Professor Meital Orr (email@example.com).
Hebrew Placement Exam
All students new to Georgetown’s Hebrew program are required to take a Hebrew Placement Exam in order to enable instructors to place them in the appropriate course, or if applicable, to refer them to the Hebrew Proficiency Exam. The Fall 2019 Placement Exams will occur on August 26 from 11:30AM to 1:45PM, location ICC 207A, and on August 27 from 10:30AM to 1:30PM, location ICC 213. Interested students may email Professor Orr (firstname.lastname@example.org) for alternate dates which are conditional upon available resources. No materials are allowed in the exam room. The exam begins with beginning level Hebrew and progresses through Intermediate Hebrew to Advanced Hebrew. It may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the level of the student.
Proficiency Exam Information
The Hebrew language proficiency exam is offered two times per year in December and April.
The next proficiency exam will be offered on December 3 from 12:30PM – 2:00PM, location TBD. Please email Professor Orr (email@example.com) to sign up or for more information.
A student may request a language proficiency examination after completing two semesters of advanced Hebrew in Georgetown’s Hebrew Program. It is required that students complete three years of Hebrew at the university level before taking the exam.
The proficiency exam takes approximately 1 hour. The format of the exam for both BSFS and MSFS students includes a reading comprehension component for which the student will be presented with an article from a daily Hebrew newspaper. The student has 30 minutes to read and review the article with a paper dictionary (provided by the department), followed by a 30 minute interview/conversation. The conversation begins with 5 minutes of discussion about general topics (routine social small talk), progressing to questions about the student’s studies and interests, and continues with 20-25 minutes of discussion about the provided article. This last part of the discussion progresses from basic level, reading comprehension questions to progressively higher level, analytical questions. A two-member board conducts the exam: one professor discusses while the other notes proficiency levels at the other end of the room.
MSFS graduate students must present the MSFS Language Proficiency Form at the time of the exam, provided here.
The Hebrew proficiency exam is evaluated on a five-point scale ranging from “Poor” to “Excellent.” A score of “Good” or above is required to pass the exam and be rated as proficient.
Passing the proficiency exam (i.e. achieving a score of “Good” or higher) is comparable to performing at a level of “Advanced Medium” or higher, in accordance with ACTFL ratings.
Mandatory Pre-Approval for Proficiency Exam
Due to a strong commitment to student success, the Hebrew Program requires all prospective proficiency exam takers pass a pre-exam assessment. This will help students assess their readiness for the proficiency exam, and allow them to obtain approval to register for the exam.
As a part of this assessment, the student is asked, during a Hebrew professor’s office hours, to read part of an article from an Israeli newspaper. The student reads for 30 minutes with access to a supplied dictionary and then answers questions about the article for approximately 20 minutes, thereby constituting a type of “mock” exam, only with one professor rather than two at the actual exam.
After the assessment, the examining professor provides feedback as to the readiness of the student, including which course of action, if any, is needed in order to qualify to register for the proficiency exam.
Please note that, per program policy, no student is authorized to register for the proficiency exam without the pre-exam assessment, which must be completed at least 8 weeks before the exam and approved by a Hebrew professor.
If you are interested in scheduling a pre-assessment for the Hebrew Proficiency Exam, please contact Professor Orr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about study abroad in Israel, please refer to Office of Global Education’s program offerings here.
The National Resource Center on the Middle East and North Africa (NRC-MENA) is pleased to offer Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships for language and area studies. FLAS Fellowships are available in modern Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. The fellowships aim to provide training in these languages in order to meet the national need for specialists on the Middle East region. Visit the FLAS page for more information.
Georgetown’s English as a Foreign Language Department at the School of Continuing Studies offers a Language Exchange and Conversation Partner Program. In this program, when Israeli students in the EFL are available and interested, they are paired with interested Hebrew students such that each pair converses half an hour in Hebrew and half an hour in English, thereby benefiting both parties. The frequency of meetings is coordinated by students. Interested Hebrew Language students should contact Professor Orr (email@example.com) to learn more about the availability of this program.
Hebrew Program Student Testimonials
“I chose to take Hebrew because I love languages and I wanted something more out of my comfort zone. When I was younger, I had learned how to read and write Hebrew for my Bat Mitzvah, but I never knew what I was reading. I love how close-knit the Hebrew community is at Georgetown, simply because there are so few of us. Because I started basically from scratch, I feel like I’ve learned so much in only 3 years. The Hebrew minor made sense because it only required 2 beginner, 2 intermediate, and 2 advanced courses, and that was my plan anyway. I didn’t want to take a language to just fulfill the requirement; I actually wanted to learn the language so that when I go to Israel, I will be at least moderately self-sufficient. By being a TA, I’m hoping to engage with more students in the Hebrew program that I don’t usually see, and become more confident as a Hebrew speaker.”
Sophia Shiffman, Biology of Global Health Major and Modern Hebrew Minor, Georgetown College
“I personally took Hebrew because it is a sister language to Arabic which I already speak. My professional focus is on the Middle East and North Africa, and that necessitates an in-depth understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Learning Hebrew better positions me, both now and in the future, to work with issues related to the conflict and to better understand points of view on both sides. Studying Hebrew has also helped my overall linguistic ability as the commonalities between it and Arabic have improved my understanding of both.”
Joseph Walker, US Army Foreign Area Officer, Master of Science in Foreign Service
“Conversing in modern Hebrew, we can appreciate the voices of people from a dynamic and enterprising country. Reading ancient Hebrew texts, we can divine a clearer understanding of the wisdom on which Judeo-Christian teaching rests. Studying Hebrew not only enriches my personal life but also broadens my career opportunities. As a teaching assistant, I deepen my understanding of the Hebrew language. Georgetown Hebrew professors respect, challenge, and inspire their students. Take Hebrew.”
Jam Smith, Georgetown College 2020
“I decided to take Hebrew at Georgetown because I want to be able to speak the historic language of Judaism and the Jewish people. It’s meaningful to be able to read and [try to] speak in the same tongue as the one in which we recite the Torah and our prayers. Hebrew is relevant to my studies because I’m particularly interested in the US-Israel strategic relationship, and I think it would be fascinating to work in the area of diplomatic and security cooperation between the US and Israel. It is also personally relevant because it allows me to communicate (and make) Israeli friends!”
Norm Kaufmann, Walsh School of Foreign Service, McDonough School of Business
“Having attended Jewish day school for 10 years before coming to Georgetown, continuing my Hebrew education through proficiency was very important to me. I’ve studied in Israel three times, the most recent time at University of Haifa’s Ulpan program this past summer on a FLAS fellowship from Georgetown, facilitated by the Hebrew program. The Hebrew program at Georgetown is very flexible in suiting your level beyond the Advanced class level. I’ve connected with an Israeli exchange student who is helping me prep for my Hebrew Proficiency Exam at the end of this semester through the School of Continuing Studies International Students conversation partner program (form available on Hebrew web site). I also enjoyed TA-ing/ tutoring students in the Intermediate class last Fall. If you have any questions about Hebrew, please don’t hesitate to reach out!”
Lille Brown, Regional Studies Major and Jewish Civilization and Persian Minor, School of Foreign Service
“The Georgetown Hebrew program is awesome! It’s so close-knit, and it really feels like a community. I took Hebrew to connect more with my Israeli family, but along the way, I also learned a lot more about Judaism, Israeli culture, and Jewish history. I’ve made great friends through my classes, and everyone involved in the Hebrew program is so genuinely kind and invested in your success. I love this program so much that after taking all six classes, I became a TA! Take Hebrew. You won’t regret it.”
Becca Saltzman, French and Linguistics major, Master of Science in Linguistics