Linguistics

How To Learn Hebrew Successfully Following 5 Pro Tips

Looking for pointers on how to learn Hebrew successfully? You’ve come to the right place! This guide will kickstart your journey to fluency in Hebrew with 5 easy-to-follow tips.

So, you want to learn Hebrew?

Whether you’re planning to travel to Israel or are simply interested in Hebrew, this guide will show you how to learn Hebrew with 5 effective tips. Jump straight to the list, or read on to discover more about this ancient and interesting language. 

Remember that your best bet to pick up Hebrew quickly is to download the Fluent Forever app. Our automated flashcard system will teach you Hebrew pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar in no time! 

Get the app today!

 

History of the Hebrew language

Why should you learn to speak Hebrew?

Is Hebrew easy or hard to learn?

How to select the right fluency method

How to learn Hebrew by yourself

5 best ways to learn Hebrew

  1. Start with pronunciation
  2. Learn commonly-used vocabulary and simple texts
  3. Watch lots of movies and series
  4. Surround yourself with Hebrew
  5. Check out Israeli Ulpans

Hebrew learning tools and resources 

How to learn Hebrew with the best method: Fluent Forever

 

A beach in Israel

Learn Hebrew, travel to Tel-Aviv!
Photo by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay 

 

History of the Hebrew language

The Modern Hebrew language differs greatly from Classical Hebrew. The latter emerged around 1,000 B.C. and was used by the Jewish people to record their history and religion. 

However, during the Roman empire, Hebrew disappeared almost entirely. Fortunately, surviving Jewish populations kept written Hebrew alive through secret texts.

Afterwards, throughout the 19th century, Hebrew experienced a revival thanks to Elizer Ben-Yehuda and other Jewish intellectuals. The former created the first Modern Hebrew dictionary.

This new version of Hebrew was influenced by geo-cultural elements of its time. For instance, this modern form required ways to to come up with vocabulary for things that didn’t exist in ancient times. Hebrew also borrowed words from European languages like French and German.

In short, every aspect of Modern Hebrew – pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar – all differ considerably from Classical Hebrew. As a matter of fact, a modern-day Israeli would almost entirely fail to understand a Jewish person from Biblical times. 

You can learn more about the history of Hebrew in the video below: 

 

Why should you learn to speak Hebrew?

If you’re already searching online for tips on how to learn Hebrew, you’re probably already aware of the many reasons to pick up this language. If not, here’s a quick rundown!

Travel to Israel – Hebrew is the official language of Israel since 1948. Today, around 8,300,000 Israelis speak Hebrew as their first or second language. Learning it will allow you to travel to Israel and get along with locals more confidently.

Business opportunities – Israel is a dynamic economy in the Middle East known for its advancements in healthcare and IT technologies. Knowing Hebrew can widen your network in the country and create business opportunities with Israeli companies. 

Learn an interesting language – Hebrew is one of the few dead languages that have been successfully resurrected. Additionally, many ancient Biblical texts are written in its Classical version. So, if you’re interested in learning a historically rich language, you can’t go wrong with Hebrew!

 

Is Hebrew easy or hard to learn?

In short, Hebrew is relatively hard to learn for native English speakers.

According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), the US agency in charge of training diplomats, Hebrew is a Category III language. Languages in this group are described as “Hard languages – languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English.” 

The institute estimates that it would take 44 weeks – or 1,100 class hours – to reach a comfortable level of proficiency in the language.

That said, the FSI’s evaluation of Hebrew is based on the agency’s courses, students, and methodologies. There are additional factors that can make Hebrew easier for you to learn it. 

For instance, high-quality learning resources, previous experience with learning foreign languages, and a substantial degree of immersion – living in Israel, for example – can all make learning Hebrew easier.

 

How to select the right fluency method

Everyone’s learning style is different. Therefore, it’s important to choose a method for learning Hebrew that fits your specific needs, interests, and personality.

Define your goals

Start by figuring out why you want to learn Hebrew. Are you traveling to Israel for the summer? Do you want to study or work in Tel Aviv? Or are you looking to connect with a friend or relative who’s a native speaker? 

This helps you choose the right resources to tap into. For instance, if you’re taking a trip to Tel Aviv in the summer holidays, you should invest in a travel phrasebook. On that note! We’ve gathered some of the most common Hebrew words and phrases for you to check out!

Figure out your specific learning style

People enjoy learning languages in different ways. For example, some individuals are self-learners and enjoy using resources like books or online courses to learn at their own pace. On the other hand, some learners prefer studying with a teacher and among other people. 

Choose whatever style fits you best, and use resources and methods that favor it. The best thing you can do is learn Hebrew in a way that’s comfortable for you and keeps you engaged. 

 

How to learn Hebrew by yourself

Nowadays, there are many online tools available to learn Hebrew: apps and other software, online courses, language games, podcasts, and online YouTube videos.

Anything can be useful as long as you stay committed and practice consistently. Here’s a handy list of online resources to start with. Remember to choose what fits your style best!

A spinning top with a Hebrew letter on it

Do you know what letter this is?
Photo by Ri Butov from Pixabay 

 

5 best ways to learn Hebrew

1. Start with pronunciation 

If you’re just starting out with Hebrew, focus on learning the language’s pronunciation. Train your ears to understand and identify Hebrew sounds – it will make picking up vocabulary easier and faster. 

You can do this by surrounding yourself with the sounds of Hebrew as much as possible. You can listen to music in Hebrew, watch catchy alphabet songs on YouTube, and consult online resources like this one

A more efficient way to learn Hebrew pronunciation is to use the Fluent Forever app. Through automated listening tests, the app will teach you this skill in an effortless and efficient way. 

You can get the Fluent Forever app right here.

2. Learn commonly used vocabulary and simple texts

You’ll be able to grasp Hebrew vocabulary more effectively with frequency lists, or commonly used words in a specific language. Using these lists will allow you to understand larger chunks of the Hebrew you come across. Consequently, you’ll learn Hebrew faster!

We have a handy list of 625 frequently used Hebrew words to get you started. You can learn this list faster by downloading and using the Fluent Forever app, which teaches you these words with automated, personalized flashcards. 

Once you feel comfortable, move on to simple texts like short stories, blog posts, and news articles. Afterwards, try to tackle longer-form reading material like novels and magazines.

3. Watch lots of movies and series

Watching media in your target language is a fantastic and fun way to build on the grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation you already know. Here’s a handy list of movies in Hebrew to start you off.

Finally! A way to binge-watch movies and series guilt-free!

4. Surround yourself with Hebrew 

Finding ways to increase your exposure to Hebrew is a great way to accelerate the learning process. So, make sure you surround yourself with the language as much as you possibly can. Here are some ideas:

  • Visit Israel for a while
  • Practice with native speakers in your community
  • Watch series, YouTube videos, and follow social media accounts in Hebrew
  • Do everyday activities, like following cooking recipes or the news, in Hebrew
  • Switch your podcast choices to Hebrew options
  • Label objects around your home with their Hebrew names

5. Check out Israeli Ulpans

Ulpans are intensive Hebrew courses offered in Israel. These schools focus on teaching the language and Jewish culture through concentrated lessons that cover all the key elements. 

So, if you’re interested in a deep immersion course that really works, consider signing up to any of these Ulpans:

Hebrew learning tools and resources 

Pronunciation

Complete modern hebrew cover

Complete Modern Hebrew: A Teach Yourself Guide comes with CDs and a real discussion of the alphabet at the start. Otherwise, you can try free internet resources. Below are some options.

This alphabet trainer at UTexas is kind of neat; they also have a decent discussion of the Hebrew ‘r’ and ‘kh’, two of the more problematic consonant sounds of Hebrew for English speakers.

Languageguide.com has a nice list of Hebrew letters and really good example words. You can also try the pretty impressive Hebrew course over at Hebrew4Christians.com, which does go over the alphabet in the beginning, complete with recordings.

Last, for large amounts of excellent recorded texts, try the free FSI Basic Hebrew course. They can be a bit dry, but the recordings are pretty wonderful.

Vocabulary

Hebrew doesn’t seem to have a decent frequency dictionary. Wikipedia’s list, as always, is a possibility, but it’s dismal to look at. Stick with the vocabulary in the Ha-Yesod grammar book (see below), and supplement it by finding seemingly useful words in a phrasebook. 

If you happen to be learning biblical Hebrew, check out this frequency dictionary, but it’s not going to help you with Modern Hebrew.

Grammar

Ha-yeson book cover

The standard workhorse of Modern Hebrew – including its grammar fundamentals – is Ha-yesod: Fundamentals of Hebrew. It’s giant, it takes you all the way from the beginning levels to reading newspapers, and it’s a pretty consistent recommendation from anyone studying Hebrew seriously.

If you’re a beginner learner, you might want to try the jargon-free grammar explanations in Lyttleton’s Colloquial Hebrew. This coursebook has good reviews and looks very similar in format and style to the Teach Yourself Guide.

Eventually, you’ll probably want to switch to Ha-Yesod for a deeper understanding of the language.

Book-type books

Harry potter in hebrew

You can read anything that you enjoy. The Harry Potter series in translation is a great option, especially if you can find an audiobook version to listen to while reading.

Typing and writing in Hebrew

To configure your computer to type in Hebrew, go here. You can also get a bunch of Hebrew stickers for your keyboard from Amazon. Alternatively, you can try a transliteration web app like this one.

If you’d like to learn how to write by hand, this series of YouTube tutorials includes instructions for writing Hebrew in both print and cursive, plus background information on the Hebrew alphabet.

 

How to learn Hebrew with the best method: Fluent Forever

The Fluent Forever method is a proven, 4-step learning system that’ll teach you Hebrew quickly and effectively.

Step 1 – Use the Fluent Forever app to train your ears to understand Hebrew pronunciation with automated listening tests. In doing these tests, you will also learn the alphabet. 

Step 2 – Grasp key Hebrew words with the awesome power of flashcards. The app automates the process of making flashcards with personalized images, and creates effective review sessions with its integrated spaced repetition system (SRS).

Step 3 – Pick up Hebrew grammar using the same flashcard system with sentences instead of single words. You can also choose the sentences you’re interested in learning or add new ones of your own.

Getting to this stage is easy. Start using the Fluent Forever app to run through each of the above steps effectively! 

Step 4 – It’s now time to apply everything you’ve learned so far by practicing speaking in Hebrew. The quick and proven way to become fluent is to speak the language as often as you can. Find native speakers to practice with regularly. Better still, you can work with a private language tutor who will professionally guide and support you along the way. 

Ready to start learning Hebrew? Take the first step: download the Fluent Forever app to reach fluency, fast!

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