“First two years”? My goal is to have students start reading Tanakh within the first two months.
Well, I didn't put that as well as I might have. I should have written, "first course or two". While I haven't specifically checked the frequencies of the words I've used in the definitions, I am pretty sure most of them are high frequency. After I get closer to the end of the project, I will probably do that.
That said, the user would have to know already at least a few months worth of Hebrew. It is not intended for an absolute beginner.
I sent you a couple of links relating to this topic in a PM the other day. I encourage you to check them out.
I would suggest that it is not necessary to do a lot of "parse and translate" for your beginner class. There is a lot of grammar that can be learned in context that need not be dealt with in detail in the beginning stage. That is, it is not necessary right off the bat when teaching a verb form to say something like, “This is a Hiphil imperative, second person plural, of the verb X”. Most students won’t remember it or want to. But you can teach that it is a verb and that it is imperative plural, and a basic meaning in a context that they will recognize, comprehend, and remember. (You can always come back to give the parsing info later.)
You can do that a variety of ways: using visual aids such as pictures, drawings, puppets or dolls/action figures, gestures, etc. For instance, you could teach some simple action imperatives (e.g., Stand up! Sit down! Turn! Point to! Look! Touch!, etc.) by modeling the action while saying the Hebrew words. At this point the students are not expected to say the words, just to watch and listen. Later, they can imitate the action and then say the words. This method, known as Total Physical Response (TPR), is one I have used myself to teach Latin and Spanish. After the students had learned some commands like that, I taught some basic body part vocabulary and we combined some of the verbs with the body vocabulary and played “Simon Says” in Latin and Spanish. It worked great. Games are another great way of reinforcing vocabulary and engaging students. So is the use of music. And lots of repetition is important. As the Romans put it,Repetitio mater memoriae (“Repetition is the mother of memory.”).
An expansion of this uses simple storytelling that teach and reinforce vocabulary and grammar in a meaningful context. This is TPRS, Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling. I did not get to use this method myself, but I have seen it done in a Spanish class and it works well.
Here’s a site that explains this technique further and has some FAQs and answers: http://teachingcomprehensibly.com/tprs/. This method does include the use of English or another shared first language (L1) to provide comprehensible input (CI), such as writing the new vocabulary on a board or projecting it with the English alongside. It is left in view during the lesson so the students can see it.
I believe using some of these approaches works better to help the students learn and retain the language, and motivate them to learn and continue learning. All my modern language studies, even at beginning levels, used some of these methods, including learning and practicing short dialogs. I learned to be an excellent reader in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and moderately good reader in German. I believe, however, that becoming proficient in communicating and understanding the language in spoken form, at least to some extent, before I did extensive reading made me a more proficient reader. I did very little translation work using Spanish and French in my initial courses in high school. It was not until I took advanced courses in them at college that we did some translation exercises as a major activity. Even then, it was not done to check comprehension. That was done by asking and answering questions (orally or in writing) within the target language. This can be done with Hebrew as well.
In my experience of doing this kind of thing with BH, Latin, and Koine Greek for last ten years, I found that speaking a little and listening to readings, as well as reading out loud, helped me to be a better reader in the ancient languages. Biblical Hebrew teachers have been slower in adopting these kinds of approaches, but those who have report great success in helping students learn to read and understand the Hebrew Bible as Hebrew. Retention of the material and motivation to learn and continue learning was improved by using these methods also. Greek and Latin teachers who have adopted these approaches report similar successes.
Well, I hope these suggestions will be helpful. Just my שני שקלים (two shekels) worth.
P.S. There is a Facebook group, Biblical Hebrew, https://www.facebook.com/groups/626309647407559/?ref=nf_target&fref=nf moderated by our own Ben Putnam, which encourages these kinds of teaching/learning methods. I'm a member there. I encourage you to join us.