Because the Yiddish language is written in the Hebrew alphabet, which is being taught and practiced at the beginning of the course, the first semester is dedicated to reading proficiency, using simple texts and short fragments from Yiddish literature (mainly poetry). As concerning speaking skills, students are encouraged to overcome their initial fear of speaking Yiddish. Grammatical correctness is commendable, but of secondary importance at this stage. The active vocabulary is systematically built up using the following topics: 1. greetings; 2. a simple conversation; 3. how does someone look like? 4. at the doctor’s (body, health); 5. the weather; 6. the Jewish holiday Hanukkah; 7. family; 8. clothing; 9. food; 10. labor. Listening skills are enhanced using audiovisual fragments.
The inevitable grammatical part includes: syntax and word order, the Yiddish case system, articles and their declination, verbs and their conjugation, nouns and their plural forms, adjectives and their declination. The grammar is taught contrastively, with emphasis on differences and similarities between Yiddish and Dutch. The grammatical part is practice-oriented: not the theory itself is important, but the practical use.
Whenever possible, links will be made with the rich Ashkenazi (Central and Eastern European) Jewish culture and traditions.
Teaching material: Zucker, Sheva; Gybels, Paul: Yidish. An araynfir: loshn, literatur un kultur. Baarbet far niderlendish-redndike studentn, Antwerp, Institute of Jewish Studies, UA, 2013. This course material, with additional audio samples, will be made available to the students at the beginning of the course.