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The Brandeis School

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New Focus on Dual Language Fluency at an Early Age Leads to Later Success Hebrew Immersion: A Lot More Than Language

The Brandeis School, a 330-student Jewish day school serving 25 towns on Long Island and in Queens, NY, starts students in Pre-K with a second language (Hebrew) -- and finds that there are many benefits beyond dual language fluency.

Lawrence, NY, February 06, 2008 --( There's a renewed focus on dual language instruction at The Brandeis School in Lawrence, NY.

“When children learn a second language, it gives them a whole new perspective, a new dimension that opens a second world to them,” says Nina Oralevich, veteran pre-kindergarten Hebrew teacher at school. “I want them to love Hebrew the way I love it.”

And Nina’s students certainly do seem to love learning Hebrew.

One recent morning after the class sang a few songs, prayers and Hatikvah (the Israeli anthem) – all in Hebrew, of course -- Nina dumped a box of colorful clothing on the floor of her newly-renovated state-of-the-art classroom, and asked (in Hebrew) if anyone could identify the sweater, the coat, the socks. Every one of her 13 students enthusiastically raised his or her hand and , in turn, stepped up, picked up the item, identified it (in Hebrew of course), and returned it to the box. “Is this for a boy or girl?” she asks (in Hebrew), holding up a dress. The children giggle. After 13 pieces of clothing, the floor is clear and everyone has had a turn to show off what they know.

Dr. Mildred David, Head of The Brandeis School and a retired public school principal, is a strong believer in the multiple benefits of dual language instruction. In recent years, Brandeis has placed added emphasis on teaching Hebrew through immersion. “It has been shown that learning a foreign language during the primary years builds greater cognitive development, increases listening skills and memory,” says Dr. David. “It also gives children an improved self-concept and sense of accomplishment while building a sense of openness and appreciation of other cultures.” For proof, Dr. David points to the fact that Brandeis students regularly outperform their peers at area public and independent schools on state language and math proficiency exams.

In September, only one child in Nina’s pre-K class knew any Hebrew – his parents are Israeli. The rest of Nina’s tiny charges have learned the language through total immersion. “My assistant and I speak Hebrew 98% of the class time.” A Tel Aviv native, Nina is certified by the Board of Jewish Education as are all Brandeis Hebrew teachers. She employs her artistic talents daily in class, whether through craft projects or play-acting (in Hebrew, of course). “When it’s fun, children are eager to learn,” says Nina, the youthful mother of three, grandmother of four.

Dr. David notes that excellence begins on Day One of Pre-K. To that end, the school’s pre-K teachers are Jewish Theological Seminary-trained, and an Early Childhood licensed supervisor/teacher is always on site.

The school’s Early Childhood Specialist, Marsha Franklin, an assistant principal in New York City public schools for 32 years -- who was named ‘Teacher of the Year’ by the New York State Teachers Association – brings her expertise to Brandeis. She proudly notes that Brandeis students meet or surpass the state test results of public and private schools in the area.

By 8th grade, Brandeis students successfully pass the New York State’s Regent’s exam in Hebrew. During the 8th grade’s annual graduation trip to Israel, students agree a highlight is being able to read the signs, order in restaurants and converse with Israelis of all ages.

Brandeis students experience the same type of ‘immersion’ in general studies as well. Besides scoring higher than most peers on state standardized tests in language and math, graduates matriculate to top independent, public and Jewish high schools. Many take AP courses and are class valedictorians, and Brandeis is represented at most of the country’s leading colleges. They go on to have highly successful professional and business careers, while taking leadership roles in the general and Jewish communities, perhaps thanks to self-confidence developed from an early age at Brandeis.

The Brandeis School, now in its 77th year, enrolls about 330 boys and girls in pre-K through grade 8 from some 25 communities. It has earned a reputation for its highly-rated, integrated general and Jewish studies curriculum. It accepts children from all Judaic backgrounds.

The Brandeis School is accepting applications for Pre-K through Grade 8 for the 2008-09 school year. For information and/or to arrange a tour, contact the Admissions office at (516) 371-4747, ext. 304, or visit

Brandeis SchoolHebrewImmersion_108.doc smh 1/28/08

Contact Information
The Brandeis School
Pat Luciani
Pat Luciani: 516-603-3638
Stan Hurwitz: 508-269-0570

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