The university of Auckland

Aims of the project

Davar was developed at The University of Auckland in a project team consisting of staff from its School of Theology and the Centre for Flexible and Distance Learning. It utilises the web to provide the framework for a multimedia vocabulary which can be customised by teachers and augmented by selected scholars. It could also be adapted for other languages with similar learning needs, although no mechanism is provided for this. It was developed to address a number of perceived needs in the teaching of Hebrew.

Davar's original aim was to provide a multimedia environment to help students at The University of Auckland to grasp the many unfamiliar complexities of Biblical Hebrew. For many of our students these complexities require a new way of thinking. The web can provide animations, sound and graphics to facilitate this, as well as a wide range of linguistic data and mnemonic cues.

A second aim was to build in the flexibility to allow the vocabularies to be customised so that they could be used with different textbooks or lesson objectives. To this end, we wanted to be able to sort lists and to extract groupings of words. This aim has been achieved and teachers wishing to use this feature can register for access to the vocabularies. They can then group words according to their needs and download to a zipped file for use in their own teaching. These can be published as vocabulary pages (book style) and as flash cards. For more details see using the vocabularies for teaching.

Thirdly, as the Biblical Hebrew scholarly community is not large and is spread throughout the world, we wanted to provide a dynamic resource, whereby academics could collaborate to extend and edit the vocabulary. As well as the usual data entry facilities, this involved automating the written word animation and providing media resources to enable the addition of new words.

The resource's initial target audience was beginners, but its dynamic nature has enabled the scope to be extended beyond this group.

Although the website doesn't aim to provide a "Teach Yourself Biblical Hebrew" course, the vocabularies are available to a variety of audiences - the independent learner who has an interest in Hebrew, students with an interest in furthering their studies independently, teachers looking for resources, and academics who are interested in collaborating in this international project.