For the first time in decades, there is a new player in the field of Hebrew and Israel education for Jewish day schools abroad. The Center for Educational Technology (CET) will this week launch a program called Niflaot (“wonders”) for elementary school students around the world.
“Niflaot is a new series for elementary school,” the CET website said of the new program. “We are glad to inform you that Niflaot for the 1st grade is beginning this year. This program is the first of its kind, leading with a digital environment along with printed workbooks in a holistic, structured manner.”
“We are glad to inform you that Niflaot for the 1st grade is beginning this year. This program is the first of its kind, leading with a digital environment along with printed workbooks in a holistic, structured manner.”CET website
The website says the program involves a “rich digital learning environment that combines a story with amusing characters. The environment also allows students to experiment with different learning methods and a rich diverse content: videos, games, comics and more.”
CET's Niflaot program
CET has for decades been teaching Hebrew for high school students through the use of books and various programs. The elementary school Hebrew studies program has been dominated by the iTaLAM curriculum, which now has competition.
“There is an increase in the number of schools that want to study with CET,” Ayelet Ganani, global division for Hebrew and Israel studies at CET, told The Jerusalem Post. According to Ganani, CET has 55,000 students worldwide, all high school students, mainly in Jewish day schools but also from other schools that teach Hebrew.
“Before COVID-19, we had a bit fewer than 30,000 students, but since then have increased the numbers substantially,” Ganani said. She said that she and her colleagues feared that the Jewish schools would collapse during the pandemic, but actually the opposite happened.
“Because everyone needed to go digital, we had an advantage since all of our programs and curriculum is digital. I have been able to reach new customers from countries that were not with us before the pandemic such as Morocco,” she said.
“Because everyone needed to go digital, we had an advantage since all of our programs and curriculum is digital. I have been able to reach new customers from countries that were not with us before the pandemic such as Morocco.”Ayelet Ganani
In addition, they connected with organizations such as the Israeli American Council that started a program called Ofek, which teaches Hebrew online.
“They use our content,” Ganani said.
Niflaot will be shown for the first time this week in Germany during an educational conference.
“Niflaot is a new program for first graders that was built on a hybrid work environment, consisting of plenary units, digital units, and workbooks,” Ganani said.
Niflaot for first grade has 12 videos to help instructors teach Hebrew.
“We have animated characters of all types and sizes in order for every student to see themself in the curriculum. We also have characters of children with disabilities,” she said. “The program itself brings modern-day Hebrew in a natural way. These six-year-olds will learn to read and write a vocabulary of 200 words and learn to speak it.
“There is a lot of emphasis on enjoying the learning,” Ganani continued. She shared that they will create an additional curriculum of this program for students until the fifth grade. “We are already working on the next programs,” she said.
While working on Niflaot, Ganani and her colleagues held conversations with teachers from around the world, as well as visited classrooms in different countries. Niflaot is already being offered to schools for next year’s first-grade students.