So you’re interested in the Hebrew language, and now you’re wondering how to learn Hebrew. Maybe you’re interested in reading and writing, or maybe you just want to learn how to speak Hebrew. In any event, this post is going to outline my thoughts on the best way to learn Hebrew. Read on for more.
First, let me dispel a common misperception. Of course, Hebrew is the national language of Israel, which is a Jewish state, but there are many non-Jews who speak Hebrew. Actually, Israel is a very diverse country full of non-Jews who speak Hebrew every day.
So if you want to know how to learn Hebrew, you should really start with the alphabet. It might seem a bit intimidating to a newcomer, but the reality is that the Hebrew alphabet is pretty straight forward. I suggest you check out my other post on the Hebrew alphabet if you haven’t already. Picking up the alphabet is critical if you want to know how to learn Hebrew, as well as how to speak Hebrew. So here are my thoughts on how to learn Hebrew:
Most of what I write is for people who are learning languages on their own, so chances are that you’re not studying in a classroom, and/or you’re not living in Israel, or any other place where Hebrew is spoken every day. But learning how to speak Hebrew is not a huge challenge. You can practice with yourself. Ask yourself a few basic questions in Hebrew every day, and answer out loud. It might seem silly, but if you can’t speak aloud to yourself, you’ll never find the courage to speak aloud to others. Speaking privately to yourself is actually one of the best ways to learn Hebrew in my opinion.
Making progress in any area is always a function of setting goals. For example, are you studying Hebrew for an upcoming trip? Is a business colleague coming from Israel? Are you looking to attend a play or watch a movie in Hebrew? Your context for learning Hebrew will lead to different goals you’ll want to set.
Some people like to measure milestones by time—I’ll practice 30 minutes a day, or I’ll get fluent in six months, etc… that’s the right spirit, but the wrong thinking. Your milestones should focus on outputs, not inputs. The goal is not to invest a certain amount of time in learning Hebrew, but to identify a certain point of accomplishment. A better goal might be: I will learn ten new phrases each day, and try to memorize 25 vocabulary words. This way, you’re focused on the quality of your output, rather than the input of your time.
If you want to know how to learn Hebrew, the accent is going to be critical. You don’t necessarily need to “speak like a native”, but learning how to speak Hebrew effectively means that you need to be understood, and a thick accent isn’t going to help you in that regard. Like I said earlier, if you’re reading this then chances are that you may not have access to lots of native Hebrew speakers. That’s fine, though. One of the best ways to learn Hebrew (or any other language) is to immerse yourself in native language media. Check out YouTube for every-day Hebrew speakers, join online communities. Do whatever works for you, but find a way to expose yourself to real people speaking real Hebrew.
I say this about all languages, but the best way to learn Hebrew is to actually take time to speak it every day.