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Archive for the 'Tips & Techniques' Category

Is Hebrew Hard to Learn? (And Why to Learn Anyway.)

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Let’s face it. Hebrew is not the most popular language choice for those seeking to acquire a new one. It’s not as sexy-sounding as, say, French or Spanish. It doesn’t have international status as a lingua franca for culture or commerce. It’s spoken by a mere nine million people worldwide

Yet there are a number of great reasons to make it your next language undertaking. In this article, we’ll answer the question “Is Hebrew hard to learn?” and talk about its simpler and more complex aspects. But first, we’ll show you why you should learn this beautiful language.

The number-one reason is that Hebrew is, quite simply, unique among all languages, and for more than one reason. It’s the language of nearly the entire Old Testament (the Book of Daniel is written in Aramaic, a closely related Semitic language that’s very similar to Hebrew). When God said, “Let there be light,” he said it in Hebrew! So when you learn Hebrew, you’re connecting yourself to a primal part of history. Indeed, the earliest examples of Paleo-Hebrew date back to the tenth century BCE, making Hebrew at least 3,000 years old!

Torah Scroll

Obviously, the Hebrew language has contributed greatly to Western civilization through the vast literary works in the Hebrew language that are part of the Biblical canon. Just as interesting is the fact that Hebrew ceased to be used as a spoken language between the third and fifth centuries. During this time, it was relegated to לשון הקודש (leshon ha-kodesh), or the Language of Holy Matters, used for Bible study, prayer, and religious poetry—but not for everyday communication.

Jewish Prayer Book

It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that Hebrew was revived as a spoken language. In fact, this was achieved through a linguistic enterprise, the likes of which had never been seen before and which has not been replicated since. A number of highly motivated and impressively talented individuals, most prominently Eliezer Ben Yehuda, set about coining Hebrew words to describe the modern world, so removed as it was from the ancient context of Biblical Hebrew.

They began publishing Hebrew dictionaries and periodicals, codifying grammatical rules, putting on Hebrew-language theater productions, founding Hebrew schools and clubs, and generally revitalizing the language as an everyday tongue equal to any other spoken language. In fact, Eliezer Ben Yehuda is credited with raising the first child to speak Hebrew as his native (and at least initially exclusive) tongue, keeping his son Itamar under something like house arrest in his early years so he wouldn’t be exposed to other languages, which he felt might confuse the child.

Today, Hebrew is the State of Israel’s official language. It’s the mother tongue of millions of people, used in newspapers, books, TV programs, movies, music, poetry, food labels, websites, legislation, advertisements, and any other use you can think of for a language. So when you learn and speak it, you’re participating in what could be argued to be the most successful linguistic experiment in history—the revival of a language that had not been spoken for over a thousand years!

What’s more, just as Hebrew is unique among languages, Israel is a country unlike any other. Geographically at the crossroads of three continents—Europe, Asia, and Africa—Israel is a true melting pot of cultures, with immigrants and their descendants from literally all four corners of the globe. It’s also a fascinating meld of ancient culture with cutting-edge modernity. Learning Hebrew gives you direct access to all of this rich diversity, and to a wealth of unique and interesting literature, art, music, cuisine, and people.

Wailing Wall / View of Old Jerusalem

So why should you learn Hebrew? Perhaps the real question is why not?!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Is it Hard to Learn Hebrew?
  2. The Hardest and Easiest Aspects of the Hebrew Language
  3. I Want to Learn Hebrew, But Don’t Know Where to Start
  4. What Makes HebrewPod101 Your Partner in Learning Hebrew with Success?

1. Is it Hard to Learn Hebrew?

Confused Looking Student

So you’re interested in the possibility of studying Hebrew, but before you take the plunge, you just have one big question: Is Hebrew hard to learn? This question is easier asked than answered, as it depends on many factors. For instance, if you know another Semitic language, such as Arabic, this will give you a number of advantages as you’ll already be familiar with the basics of vocabulary and grammar.

If you speak a language with gutturals, such as French or German, this will go a long way toward helping your Hebrew pronunciation. If you’ve studied the Hebrew Bible at all, this can also be of help, though it can also cause confusion due to the divergence of modern Hebrew from Biblical Hebrew. 

And overall, how hard it is to learn Hebrew will depend on how good your ear is, how willing you are to make and learn from mistakes, and how much effort you put in.

All that being said, learning Hebrew is definitely a manageable task. It’s not the hardest language to learn by a long shot, though we’ll admit it’s not the easiest either. We’re going to take an honest look at various features that might make the Hebrew language hard for some learners, and other features that make Hebrew relatively easy. 

In this author’s opinion, while Hebrew does present some key obstacles, especially in the very early stages, it’s an extremely logical and economical language overall. For this reason, I believe anyone with the right attitude absolutely can and should learn Hebrew with the certainty that success will come if you invest in your studies.

Pensive Looking Student

At HebrewPod101.com, we’re committed to your language-learning success. To that end, we have created a vast library of fun, engaging, and enriching material, both written and in audio format, to help and guide you in your Hebrew language endeavors. So don’t stress! While learning any language comes with difficulties, you can take comfort in the knowledge that we are here to help you along the way!

Without further ado, let’s get into the thick of it and see which features of Hebrew will likely present a challenge and which are more inviting. We’re confident that once you see the breakdown, you’ll be inspired to go for it and study Hebrew in earnest.

2. The Hardest and Easiest Aspects of the Hebrew Language

Let’s start with the good news and take a look at some of the ways in which Hebrew is, in fact, one of the easier languages to pick up. You may actually be surprised by some of them!

The top five easiest aspects of learning Hebrew

1. It’s phonetic.

Man Speaking with Letters

Like Spanish and Italian—and unlike English and French—Hebrew is phonetic. This means that, with a few exceptions, the sounds that Hebrew letters make are constant and don’t change depending on their location in a word. That makes learning new vocabulary a whole lot easier, as you can pronounce new words with confidence, as long as you know the sound each Hebrew letter makes.

What’s more, there are only five voiced vowel sounds and one unvoiced vowel sound. No diphthongs (vowel combinations, like the “ou” in the English word “mouse”) to complicate matters. It’s just as simple as learning six vowels, and you’re set!

To make things even easier in terms of proper pronunciation, there are only two possible ways to stress syllables: either the last syllable or the penultimate syllable gets stressed. There are some imported words, mostly from English, where this is not the case, but the vast majority of Hebrew words do follow this rule.

2. It’s root-based.

Roots

While this may sound like something you would find printed on a bottle of vegetable juice, “roots” here refer to verb stems, or שורשים (shorashim). In true testament to its logical nature, Hebrew uses words based on three- or four-letter roots from which various words can be formed using different patterns. There are patterns for verbs of different kinds (e.g. accusative, reflexive, etc.), for nouns of different kinds (describing actions, equipment, diminutives, etc.), as well as for adjectives and adverbs. Words from the same root can be viewed as members of a single family, with a semantic connection (i.e. their individual meanings will all share a common theme).

You may be asking how this makes learning Hebrew easier. The answer is that once you’ve learned a word or two based on a given root, you’ll have more than a fair chance of at least approximating the meaning of another word from the same root. Let’s take a look at an example.

The root ח-ב-ר (kh-v-r) denotes connection or connectivity, so all words deriving from it will have a meaning along those lines. Obviously, once you get to know the conjugation patterns, you’ll also be able to infer meaning with greater accuracy. But even without this knowledge, you can be sure that any word from this root has something to do with connection. So, say you know the word חבר (khaver) means “friend,” and you suddenly see the word חיבור (khibur). You may not know what it means, but you can guess that it has something to do with connection. And you would be quite right! חיבור (khibur) means “connection”!

Here are some other words formed from the same root, along with their meanings. (The root letters have been bolded for easier identification.)

  • חבורה (khavurah)
    “gang,” “pack”
  • חברה (khevrah)
    “company,” “society”
  • חבר‘ה (khevreh)
    “group of people,” “guys,” “folks”
  • לחבר (lekhaber)
    “to connect [one thing to another]”
  • להתחבר (lehitkhaber)
    “to connect [yourself to something]”
  • מחברת (makhberet)
    “notebook” [i.e., a ream of connected pages]
  • תחביר (takhbir)
    “syntax” [i.e., how we connect words to each other]

3. It only has three tenses.

Signs: Now, Tomorrow, Yesterday

Here’s one that should give you a huge sigh of relief. Unlike many languages, English among them, which have various tenses both simple and complex (e.g. “I have been studying Hebrew for a year.”), Hebrew is content to make do with just three—simple past, simple present, and simple future—the vast majority of the time. You can still express all of the same things as in English, but you would rely on context for the nuances of time. For example:

  • אני אוכל עכשיו.
    Ani okhel akhshav.
    “I am eating now.”

* The word עכשיו (akhsav), meaning “now,” tells us that this is an ongoing action happening at present, equivalent to the present progressive tense in English.

Contrast this with the following:

  • אני אוכל במסעדה פעם בשבוע.
    Ani okhel be-mis’adah pa’am be-shavu’ah.
    “I eat at a restaurant once a week.”

* In this case, we’re talking about a general habit, which is equivalent to the simple present tense in English.

4. In simple present, you never need to use the verb “to be.”

Man Pointing to Watch

That’s right! In the simple present tense (the only present tense Hebrew has), we don’t use the verb להיות (lehiyot), or “to be.” That ought to save you some work! Here are a couple of examples:

  • אני סוזי.
    Ani Suzi.
    “I [am] Susie.”
  • אני סטודנטית.
    Ani studentit.
    “I [am] a student.”
  • האוכל טעים מאוד.
    Ha-okhel ta’im me’od.
    “This food [is] very tasty.”

5. There is only one article.

Man with Lightbulbs

This is definitely a huge advantage in comparison to other languages. Languages vary widely in their use of articles. For instance, Slavic languages are devoid of articles, while Italian has a whopping twelve types of articles. Spanish has nine, and English, French, and German have three each. But Hebrew only has one article to learn, so that’s one thing you can definitely be grateful for. Whether male or female, singular or plural, Hebrew uses only the prefix ה- (ha-) for all definite nouns.

The top five hardest aspects of learning Hebrew

You’ve seen a number of key ways in which Hebrew learning is facilitated by the language’s logic and economy. Now let’s face the music and confront the big question: Why is Hebrew so hard to learn for many students?

Here’s an overview of the unique challenges Hebrew poses. 

1. You have to learn a new alphabet, probably written in the direction opposite of what you’re used to.

Man Writing on Blackboard

This is likely the first thing that may have occurred to you as a potential challenge. And you would be right. This is an obstacle that you wouldn’t face, by and large, if learning any of the Romance or Germanic languages (apart from a few morphemes unique to each language). With Hebrew, you’ll be learning an alphabet completely different from what you know, which is also written from right to left rather than left to right.

That said, the alphabet only contains twenty-two consonants—versus English’s twenty-six—and six vowel sounds. As for the consonants, there’s a further complication in that the letters ב (bet), כ (kaf), and פ (peh), are either plosive or fricative depending on whether they use a דגש קל (dagesh kal), a diacritical point in their center. So, while ב is equivalent to /v/ in English, בּ is equivalent to /b/; כ is pronounced kh, like a Scot pronouncing the “ch” in Loch Ness, but כּ is /k/; and פ is /f/ while פּ is /p/.

Additionally, the letters כ (kaf), מ (mem), נ (nun), פ (peh), and צ (tzadi) all have distinct final forms, meaning they’re written differently when they come at the end of a word. Their final forms are:

ך, ם, ן, ף, and ץ, respectively.

Obviously, apart from learning a new alphabet, you’ll also have to get accustomed to reading and writing from right to left. It may be of interest to know why this is the case. Old as it is, and owing to logistical issues of climate and technology, proto-Hebrew was originally chiseled, carved, or engraved into rock or clay rather than written on animal skin or papyrus, unlike cuneiform. This is because, most people being right-handed, it was easier to hold the chisel in the left hand and hammer with the right. On the other hand (no pun intended), when writing with ink, writing from left to right prevented right-handed people from inadvertently smudging the ink on the scroll or page before it had dried.

2. Say goodbye to written vowels, for the most part.

Man and Women Speaking with Floating Letters and Question Mark

To complicate matters further, Hebrew is a type of language—like Arabic and Persian—called an abjad. These languages, in written form, by and large only supply the reader with consonants, omitting any diacritical marks (the dots and dashes within, above, below, or next to letters that indicate vowel sounds and other features of pronunciation). These sounds are generally inferred, though there are cases of words with the same consonants and various possible vowels, which can be tricky. Here’s an example:

  • דָּוִד
    David
    “David” (the proper name)
  • דּוֹד
    dod
    “uncle”
  • דּוּד
    dud
    “boiler”

* Note that the consonants in all three words are the same, with only the vowels changing. Because written Hebrew does not generally supply us with the vowels, these would all appear to be the same word to the uninitiated. Let’s see how this might look in the context of a sentence, first without vowels, then with them.

  • דוד דוד קנה דוד חדש.
    דּוֹד דָּוִד קנה דּוּד חדש.
    Dod David kanah dud khadash.
    “Uncle David bought a new boiler.”

Don’t let this phase you, though. If nine-million Hebrew-speakers can read without the aid of written vowels, you can get there too! There aren’t too many cases where words share the same consonants but differ in vowels alone. And those that do exist are generally quite easy to distinguish from their homographs by using context clues. When this isn’t the case, the author will usually supply the diacritical marks to allay confusion.

3. Hebrew uses a different script for printed letters and written ones.

Eraser on Page

Continuing in the orthographical vein, printed Hebrew—such as what appears in books, newsprint, most ads, subtitles, and so on—uses block letters, whereas written Hebrew uses cursive. To be fair, though, the case is much the same in English—or at least it traditionally was for those old enough to have been taught to write in cursive when penning letters and so on. In any case, cursive Hebrew is very similar to its printed counterpart. The written form of the letters is actually no more than a matter of convenience, as round letters are easier to write than square ones.

4. There are male and female forms for nouns, pronouns, verbs, AND adjectives.

Male/Female Symbols

This one is definitely a challenge, though by no means an insurmountable one. For all of its many complications, English is free of grammatical gender (though, as history buffs will know, this was not always the case). However, many languages have grammatical (versus biological) gender, meaning that even inanimate objects are gendered either masculine or feminine (and in the case of some languages, such as German, they can be neutral, as well).

Hebrew does not have a neutral form, but it does have masculine and feminine forms—both singular and plural—for nouns, pronouns, verb conjugations, and adjectives. While this may seem overwhelming, the good news is that these forms are standardized, meaning that once you learn the right suffixes and conjugation forms to make a word either masculine or feminine, and plural or singular, you’ll be able to apply the same pattern over and over to different words.

There are, of course, irregulars, but not many. And they’re only irregular in that they use the masculine form for a feminine word or vice-versa, rather than having a totally non-sequitur plural form as is often the case in English (e.g. man, men). For example, -ים (-im) is the plural suffix for masculine nouns, while -ות (-ot) or -יות (-iyot) is the plural suffix for feminine nouns.

Here are a few examples:

  • בן, בנים
    ben, banim
    “son,” “sons”
  • בת, בנות
    bat, banot
    “daughter,” “daughters”
  • חודש, חודשים
    khodesh, khodashim
    “month,” “months”
  • ארוחה, ארוחות
    arukhah, arukhot
    “meal,” “meals”
  • בקבוק, בקבוקים
    bakbuk, bakbukim
    “bottle,” “bottles”
  • שקית, שקיות
    sakit, sakiyot
    “bag,” “bags”

5. There are seven binyanim (verb conjugation patterns).

Verb List

There’s no way around this one. There are seven distinct types of verbs in Hebrew, each with its own pattern of conjugation. Compare that to, say, Spanish or Italian, where there are just three basic patterns, or English where there is only one basic pattern (which is chock-full of irregulars).

That being said, these binyanim, or conjugation patterns, are here to help you. They’re not mere morphological patterns, but have semantic meaning as well. In layman’s terms, whereas the conjugation patterns in Spanish and Italian are linked to their orthographic endings (the letters they terminate in), Hebrew binyanim tell you the character of the verb.

For instance, the binyan התפעל (hitpa’el) indicates a reflexive verb, meaning that when we learn how to use and identify this conjugation pattern, we also learn how to change an indicative (a regular statement or question) verb into a reflexive one (meaning it’s either acting on itself or on its agent). This also means that even if we’re not completely sure of a verb’s meaning, we can surmise something about the situation or relationship being described based on its binyam: Is something or someone acting on something or someone else? Is something happening passively to something or someone? Is someone or something activating or animating something or someone else to do something?

So yes, while the binyanim are tricky and take plenty of practice to master, they give you something you won’t find in many other languages: an understanding of the logical relationship between words. This will help you immensely as you progress with your studies, so look at it as a challenge that is well worth tackling! 

3. I Want to Learn Hebrew, But Don’t Know Where to Start

Woman with Blank Thought Bubble

Considering that Hebrew is a very logical, even mathematical, language, it’s best to get a good foundation when you first start your studies. While some may consider this dull, you can be certain that any seeming drudgery will pay off in dividends later on.

The following are some tips for getting started:

1. Learn the alphabet.

A good recommendation is to begin by learning the alphabet, as well as the correct pronunciation of all the consonants and vowels. Remember that Hebrew is phonetic, so once you learn these sounds, you only need to be able to reproduce them wherever they appear. There’s no variation as in English or French. With only a few exceptions, the same grapheme (written unit) will correspond to the same phoneme (sound unit) anywhere it appears.

2. Learn basic verb conjugation.

From there, you would want to focus on learning at least the more common binyanim, or verb conjugation patterns, so you can use verbs freely. You could start by focusing on just one tense and look at various verbs in this tense. Or you could focus on one binyan, tackling its forms in all three tenses. Any way you choose to go about it is fine, as long as you’re systematic.

3. Build up a basic vocabulary.

This is key to any language you’re trying to learn. Rather than focusing solely on technical issues like grammar and pronunciation, make sure you spend a lot of time building your vocabulary. Start with simple, everyday words that would be useful in common situations. Think of how children learn a language: they start with the most basic building blocks before they ever move on to forming sentences and questions. This should be your guiding principle. You have to crawl before you can walk, after all.

4. Use realia for fun and effective learning.

When undertaking any language endeavor, exposure is key. You want to flood yourself with as much authentic Hebrew language as you can. If you’re in Israel or know a group of Israelis living abroad where you are, try to hang out with them and practice any vocabulary you can. Listen attentively to their conversations and take part as much as possible. To this end, it’s best to identify patient native speakers who will be willing to help and encourage you.

No matter where you are, the Internet is a wonderful resource full of endless opportunities to expose yourself to authentic native Hebrew. Whether through music, movies, TV shows, or any other medium, Israel is a true powerhouse of media production, so you have your pick. No matter what your tastes are, you’re sure to find something to your liking in the Hebrew language. Use these media to learn new words, practice your comprehension, or work on pronunciation.

5. Start small and work your way up from there.

Work with smaller chunks at first before you try to take on, say, translating an entire song from Hebrew to your native language. Focus on individual words first, then word combinations, then sentences, then paragraphs (or stanzas), and only then entire works. Keep your goals realistic and achievable so that you’ll not only succeed in reaching them, but feel positive about your progress.

It’s worth noting that, as a country of mass immigration from countries the world over, Israel produces material specifically designed to help עולים חדשים (‘olim khadashim), or “new immigrants,” learn Hebrew. This even includes simplified newspapers that print stories on current affairs and cultural interest stories in basic Hebrew to facilitate easy reading for non-native speakers.

6. Be consistent.

Make sure you’re consistent in your studies. Dedicate time every week to your language studies, and try your best to stick to it, even if it’s only a couple of hours. Practice the words or grammar points you’ve learned until you’re sure you have dominated them. Go back and review previous lessons every now and again to refresh your memory. Most of all, don’t give up! Results are the direct product of your commitment to your goals!

4. What Makes HebrewPod101 Your Partner in Learning Hebrew with Success?

Man Jumping from Cliff to Cliff

HebrewPod101’s raison d’être is to make your language-learning experience a success, and to make sure you have fun along the way. We offer a wealth of audio, video, and written lessons designed and delivered by native Hebrew-speakers. These lessons focus on real-life topics, ranging from using public transportation to asking someone out on a date.

We also offer a multitude of learning materials, all designed with both the general difficulties of language-learning and the particular difficulties of Hebrew in mind. With HebrewPod101, you can build your vocabulary with our Free Word of the Day, practice grammar with our free mobile apps, track your progress online, and benefit from a vast array of study tools. These include flashcards, word banks, and even a voice recorder for working on your pronunciation.

With HebrewPod101, you’ll have access to lesson notes which accompany our audio and video lessons. You can also repeat any lesson at any time and check your knowledge using our quizzes. The best part of all is that, unlike in a classroom setting, you can learn at your own pace. This gives you the flexibility to work your studies in around your personal schedule and progress according to your drive, availability, and needs.

At HebrewPod101.com, we’re committed to making the challenges of learning Hebrew not only surmountable, but welcome. After all, nothing feels better than setting your sights on the summit, scaling the mountain step-by-step, and finally standing way above, looking out at the expanse below, knowing you got there thanks to your commitment and hard work. Let us be your partner in success. Sign up today to start getting new Hebrew lessons for free every single week!

Before you go, we would love to hear your thoughts on learning Hebrew. Are you ready to start after reading this article, or do you still have questions or concerns? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help you out!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Hebrew

10 Common Mistakes in Learning Hebrew & How to Avoid Them

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It’s more than expected to make mistakes when learning a new language, particularly when that language is quite different from your mother tongue. Whether in terms of correct pronunciation, the right word for the right situation, or the small differences that can make the difference between an idiomatic phrase and an idiotic one, languages are full of traps that only native speakers can navigate with ease. 

With all that in mind, it’s perfectly normal for a language-learner to make the occasional mistake in Hebrew. But we here at HebrewPod101.com are here to help you avoid the worst of them.

Today’s lesson will cover the top ten most common Hebrew mistakes. While there are some mistakes in life that one must make in order to learn from, we like to think that in language we can minimize mistakes. To that end, we’ll look at issues of pronunciation, word choice (vocabulary), grammar, and even spelling. We’ll also include some mistakes that even native speakers have been known to make, leading to further confusion among language-learners. 

Together, we’ll see what the common mistakes in learning Hebrew are, why they’re mistakes, and what we can do to avoid making them. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Pronunciation Mistakes: Gutturals
  2. Word Choice Mistakes
  3. Word Order Mistakes
  4. Grammar Mistakes
  5. The Biggest Mistake of All
  6. Let HebrewPod101 Help You Learn Correct Hebrew and Avoid Mistakes

1. Pronunciation Mistakes: Gutturals

Teacher Teaching Pronunciation

Hebrew seems to be among the more challenging languages for native speakers of a range of languages. English-speakers in particular tend to have difficulty producing some of the sounds that are natural to the Hebrew tongue. 

Hebrew, like Arabic or German, is a language that relies heavily on guttural sounds—sounds we produce using the back of the throat—and these can pose a challenge to the uninitiated. Let’s see what these sounds are and how to avoid mispronouncing them.

1 – ח (khet) and כ/ך (khaf)

Let’s start with the good news. In modern Hebrew, the vast majority of native speakers pronounce these two letters identically. (In the past, they were distinguished by how far back in the throat you would pronounce each letter’s sound.) 

To make this sound correctly, you can think about the movement you make when you’re trying to clear your throat. The sound is similar to the “ch” in Loch Ness, as pronounced by a native Scot, or to the jota in the Spanish name Juan.

Many non-native Hebrew-speakers take the easy way out on this sound and, rather than producing it correctly, “fudge” it with a soft “H” sound. This not only sounds bad, but it can lead to confusion, as sometimes this substitution can actually mean that we’re saying a totally different word. For example, לך (lakh) is the second person feminine singular form of “to/for you,” whereas לה (lah) is the third person singular form of the same pronoun. 

To avoid this mistake in Hebrew, practice these sentences. Focus on distinguishing between the different sounds (ה [heh] vs. ח/כ/ך, khet/khaf/khaf).

  • אני הולך להרים מחר.
    Ani holekh la-harim makhar.
    “I am going to the mountains tomorrow.”
  • אני אוכל מהר בהיכל. 
    Ani okhel maher ba-heykhal.
    “I am eating quickly in the auditorium.”

2 – ר (resh)

Technically, this letter is a voiced uvular fricative rather than a guttural. But for our purposes, the important thing to note is that most modern Hebrew-speakers produce the “ר” sound from the back of the throat and top of the palette, rather than by using the tip of the tongue or the teeth. 

As this sound is totally different from most English-speakers’ “R” sound, it takes a bit of practice to get it right. The sound is similar to how the “R” sound is produced by many French-speakers. The best way to get it right is to listen to how Israelis say it, and to practice the sound to get it as close as possible. 

Here are some tongue-twisters to help:

  • רק רגע, מור, אני כבר רושם את מה שאתה אומר.
    Rak rega’, Mor, ani kvar roshem et mah she-atah omer.
    “Just a moment, Mor, I’m just about to write down what you say.”
  • הרוחות רשרשו כשהשתחררתי מחיל האוויר.
    Ha-rukhot rishreshu keshe-hishtakhrarti mi-Kheil ha-Avir.
    “The winds rustled when I was discharged from the Air Force.”

2. Word Choice Mistakes

Blackboard with Word List

Another category of common Hebrew mistakes is that of incorrect word choices. Obviously, this is a huge category, as the opportunities for vocabulary mishaps lie everywhere. But here, we’ll only focus on the top three commonly confused words. 

It’s a good idea here to practice each word and to internalize how and where to use it. To this end, feel free to practice with the sample sentences provided below, and avoid these Hebrew word mistakes in the future.

אח -1 (akh) – “brother” / “male nurse” / “fireplace” / “ouch” vs. אך (akh) – “but”

In modern Hebrew pronunciation, the two words above sound identical, but note that each spelling has multiple meanings, so it’s easy to get confused here. The first one, אח (akh), most commonly means “brother,” and, in fact, the “male nurse” definition is merely a derivative of the same (just as in the past, female nurses in English were referred to as “sisters”). It’s also used to spell out the exclamation for pain, basically Hebrew’s version of “ouch.”

On the other hand, אך (akh) with a ך is a conjunction, meaning it links two words or phrases. In this case, it marks a contrast between them. 

Note the differences between the examples below:

אח (akh) “brother” / “fireplace” / “ouch”

  • זה אח שלי, ירון.
    Zeh akh sheli, Yaron.
    “This is my brother, Yaron.”
  • יש לך אח גדול, נכון?
    Yesh lekha akh gadol, nakhon?
    “You have an older brother, don’t you?”
  • האח שטיפל בי בבית החולים היה נחמד מאוד.
    Ha-akh she-tipel bi be-veyt ha-kholim hayah nekhmad me’od.
    “The male nurse who treated me at the hospital was very kind.”
  • קר בחוץ! בא נשב מול האח כדי להתחמם.
    Kar ba-khutz! Bo neshev mul ha-akh kedey lehitkhamem.
    “It’s cold outside! Let’s go sit by the fireplace to warm up.”
  • אח! דבורה בדיוק עקצה אותי בגב!
    Akh! Devorah bidiyuk aktzah oti ba-gav.
    Ouch! A bee just stung me in the back.”

אך (akh) – “but”

  • רצינו לשחות בים אך הגלים היו חזקים מדי.
    Ratzinu liskhot ba-yam akh ha-galim hayu khazakim miday.
    “We wanted to go swimming in the ocean, but the waves were too strong.”
  • אני לא אוהב ארטישוק אך אח שלי מת על זה.
    Ani lo ohev artishok akh akh sheli met al zeh.
    “I don’t like artichokes, but my brother is crazy about them.”

2- קרה (karah) – “happened” / “occurred” vs. קרא (kara) – “read” vs. קרע (kara’) – “ripped” / “tore”

Here we have three words that, in modern Hebrew pronunciation, sound identical or close to it, but which nevertheless have significantly different meanings. Note that all three are the male singular first person past tense form of a verb. Here are some examples of how their meanings differ:

קרה (karah) – “happened” / “occurred”

  • מה קרה? הכל בסדר כאן?
    Mah karah? Ha-kol be-seder kan?
    “What happened? Is everything okay here?”
  • אף פעם לא קרה לי נס, אבל אני עוד מחכה.
    Af pa’am lo karah li nes, aval ani od mekhakeh.
    “A miracle has never happened to me, but I’m still waiting.”

קרא (kara) – “read”

  • אני מקווה שהוא קרא את ההוראות לפני שהוא התחיל לעבוד.
    Ani mekavah she-hu kara et ha-hora’ot lifney she-hu hitkhil la’avod.
    “I hope he read the instructions before he started working.”
  • אבא שלי קרא לי מליון ספרים בילדות שלי.
    Abba sheli kara li milyon sefarim ba-yaldut sheli.
    “My father read me a million books in my childhood.”

3- צבע (tzeva’) – “color” / “paint” vs. צבא (tzava) – “army” / “military”

This is another pair that’s easy enough to confuse, as they sound almost the same, particularly to the untrained ear. Note that, in addition to the difference in vowels, צבע is stressed on the first syllable (TZEva’), whereas צבא is stressed on the second syllable (tzaVA). Here are some examples to help you practice:

צבע (tzeva’) – “color” / “paint”

  • איזה צבע את הכי אוהבת?
    Eyzeh tzeva’ at ha-khi ohevet?
    “What is your favorite color?”
  • הצבע הזה ממש מבליט את העיניים שלך!
    Ha-tzeva’ ha-ze mamash mavlit et ha-eynayim shelkha!
    “This color really brings out your eyes!”
  • אל תיגע בזה. הצבע עוד טרי!
    Al tiga’ be-ze. Ha-tzeva’ od tari!
    “Don’t touch that. The paint is still wet!”

צבא (tzava) – “army” / “military”

  • איפה שירתת בצבא?
    Eyfoh shirateta ba-tzava?
    “Where did you serve in the army?”
  • לישראל יש את הצבא הכי מנוסה בעולם!
    Le-Yisrael yesh et ha-tzava hakhi menuseh ba-’olam.
    “Israel has the most experienced military in the world.”
  • אחרי הצבא אני טס לארגנטינה.
    Akharey ha-tzava ani tas le-Argentina.
    “After the army, I am flying to Argentina.”

3. Word Order Mistakes

Word Magnets

Another area that commonly invites mistakes among non-native speakers is syntax, or word order. Particularly for English-speakers—though not for most Romance language-speakers—it can get tricky to remember to do the reverse of what you’re used to, which is often the case with Hebrew.

Let’s look at the two most common issues Hebrew-learners are likely to face in this regard, namely adjective-noun combinations and possessive nouns.

1- Noun-adjective combinations

It’s important to remember that in Hebrew, adjectives always come after the nouns they describe. This is the exact opposite of what we’re used to in English, so it’s best to give this language feature plenty of practice to avoid making this kind of Hebrew mistake. Here are some examples of mistakes, followed by the correct forms.

MISTAKE
הגדול הכלב הוא פיטבול.

CORRECTION
הכלב הגדול הוא פיטבול.
Ha-kelev ha-gadol hu pitbul.
The big dog is a pit bull.”

MISTAKE
זה טוב חבר שלי מאוסטרליה.

CORRECTION
זה חבר טוב שלי מאוסטרליה.
Zeh khaver tov sheli me-Ostraliyah.
“This is my good friend from Australia.”

MISTAKE
בא לך קר קפה?

CORRECTION
בא לך קפה קר?
Ba lakh kafeh kar?
“Would you like an iced coffee?”

2- Possessive adjectives

In Hebrew, the correct syntax for expressing possessives is for the noun to precede the possessive adjective. While this form does exist in English—think of “child of mine”—it’s definitely not the usual order we use, which is the other way around (think “my child”). Therefore, it’s worth practicing this one as well. Let’s see some examples.

MISTAKE
הנה, זה שלי האוטו.

CORRECTION
הנה, זה האוטו שלי.
Hineh, zeh ha-oto sheli.
“Here is my car.”

MISTAKE
השלנו מורה יודע הכל על הכל.

CORRECTION
המורה שלנו יודע הכל על הכל.
Ha-moreh shelanu yode’a ha-kol ‘al ha-kol.
Our teacher knows everything about everything.”

MISTAKE
השלך מפתחות תלויות ליד הכניסה.

CORRECTION
המפתחות שלך תלויות ליד הכניסה.
Ha-maftekhot shelakh tluyot leyad ha-knisah.
Your keys are hanging by the entrance.”

4. Grammar Mistakes

Woman with Thought Bubbles

Let’s take a look at a couple of common grammar mistakes. These mistakes are, in fact, not limited to Hebrew students alone. These common mistakes in Hebrew are even made among native Hebrew-speakers, so why not master them and show off to your Israeli friends? After all, there’s nothing more authentically Israeli than showing someone you know more than he or she does!

1- נִרְאֶה (nir’eh) – “seems” / “looks” vs. נִרְאָה (nir’ah) – “seemed” / “looked”

This one is a rather straightforward distinction between the past form and present form of the same verb. נִרְאֶה (nir’eh) is the present form of the verb להיראות (leheyra’ot), meaning “to seem” or “to look,” whereas נִרְאָה is the past tense. Israelis, as well as students, are wont to use the past form where they should use the present one. Let’s see some examples.

MISTAKE
בא לי לאכול כבר! האוכל נִרְאָה ממש טעים.

CORRECTION
בא לי לאכול כבר! האוכל נִרְאֶה ממש טעים.
Ba li le’ekhol kvar! Ha-okhel nir’eh mamash ta’im.
“I feel like eating already! The food looks truly delicious.”

MISTAKE
הסרט הזה נִרְאָה לי משעמם.

CORRECTION
הסרט הזה נִרְאֶה לי משעמם.
Ha-seret ha-zeh nir’eh li mesha’amem.
“That movie looks boring to me.”

2- Using the wrong gender adjective/number/verb/etc. for irregular nouns

Another common grammar issue arises with irregular nouns, when the plural form doesn’t correspond to the grammatical gender of the singular noun. For example, though the word חלון (khalon), meaning “window,” is masculine, it uses the feminine suffix -ות (-ot) instead of the masculine suffix -ים (-im) to form the plural. Thus, it’s easy to get confused and use a feminine adjective if you’re referring to various windows. Watch out for this! Here are some examples, along with the correct forms:

MISTAKE
מי יושב מאחורי החלונות הגבוהות?

CORRECTION
מי יושב מאחורי החלונות הגבוהים?
Mi yoshev me’akhorey ha-khalonot ha-gevohim?
“Who sits behind the high windows?”

MISTAKE
קנינו שלוש ארונות ספרים חדשות לסלון.

CORRECTION
קנינו שלושה ארונות ספרים חדשים לסלון.
Kaninu shloshah aronot sfarim khadashim la-salon.
“We bought three new bookcases for the living room.”

MISTAKE
הנשים האלה שרים יפה מאוד.

CORRECTION
הנשים האלה שרות יפה מאוד.
Ha-nashim ha-eleh sharot yafeh me’od.
“Those women sing very nicely.”

5. The Biggest Mistake of All

Man Wearing Dunce Cap

In this teacher’s opinion, the biggest mistake any of us can make when trying to speak a new language is to rely on word-for-word translation. The perils in doing so can be great as, very often, one language simply will not line up with the other one on a word-by-word basis. There’s not really any one surefire way to avoid these kinds of mistakes in Hebrew, apart from adopting an attitude of trying to really think in Hebrew. In addition, be wary of dictionaries, and make sure you’ve found the right definition of the word you wanted to translate.

These tips will help you focus less on how the language you’re learning differs from your native tongue, and allow you to absorb the way it works in a more natural, organic way. Just remember that you’ll make mistakes, and the best thing to do when that happens is laugh at yourself and learn from your errors. And, as always, there’s no substitute for practice.

Now, take a look at some of the ways word-to-word translation can fail us. Check the following sentences and see if you can find the mistake (keeping in mind that these are the results of too literal a translation from Hebrew to English). Then, check your guess using the key provided below.

  1. סליחה על האיחור. התגעגעתי לאוטובוס.
    Slikha ‘al ha-ikhur. Hitga’aga’ti la-otobus.
  1. לא אוכל לבוא לשיעור. אני מרגיש מתחת למזג האוויר.
    Lo ukhal lavo la-shi’ur. Ani margish mitakhat le-mezeg ha-avir.
  1. מאז שאני בן 13, אני מנגן בחביות.
    Me-az she-ani ben shlosh-’esreh, ani menagen be-khaviyot.
  1. אם אין לך חבר, אני מזמין אותך לצאת החוצה מתישהו.
    Im eyn lakh khaver, ani mazmin otakh latzet ha-khutzah matayshehu.
  1. אין לי רמז מה קורה כאן.
    Eyn li remez mah koreh kan.

CORRECTIONS WITH EXPLANATIONS

  1. סליחה על האיחור. פספסתי את האוטובוס.
    Slikha ‘al ha-ikhur. Fisfasti et ha-otobus.
    “Sorry I’m late. I missed the bus.”
    The word התגעגעתי (hitga’aga’ti) means “I missed” in the sense of longing for something that is absent, rather than in the sense of not making it to something on time.
  1. לא אוכל לבוא לשיעור. אני מרגיש חולה.
    Lo ukhal lavo la-shi’ur. Ani margish kholeh.
    “I won’t be able to make it to class. I am feeling sick.”
    The idiomatic phrase “under the weather” has no direct equivalent in Hebrew, so we should just say that we’re sick or unwell.
  1. מאז שאני בן 13, אני מנגן בתופים.
    Me-az she-ani ben shlosh-’esreh, ani menagen be-tupim.
    “I’ve been playing drums since I was thirteen.”
    The word we want here is תופים (tupim), meaning “drums” as in the musical instrument, rather than חביות (khaviyot), drums as in the large cylindrical recipients like those used for storing oil.
  1. אם אין לך חבר, אני מזמין אותך לצאת מתישהו.
    Im eyn lakh khaver, ani mazmin otakh latzet matayshehu.
    “If you don’t have a friend, I’d like to ask you out sometime.”
    In this case, we probably want to ask a girl out on a date, or לצאת (latzet), and not to go outdoors, or לצאת החוצה (latzet ha-khutzah). This is a good example of a too-literal translation.
  1. אין לי מושג מה קורה כאן.
    Eyn li musag mah koreh kan.
    “I have no idea what’s going on here.”
    The correct word here is מושג (musag), meaning “notion.” Using the word רמז (remez), or “clue,” sounds entirely non-idiomatic in Hebrew, even though this is the word used in the English phrase.

6. Let HebrewPod101 Help You Learn Correct Hebrew and Avoid Mistakes

Eraser Erasing Page

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s lesson on the top ten Hebrew mistakes. As always, we welcome you to get in touch with us and let us know if there’s anything we covered that you’re unsure of, or anything we didn’t cover that you would like us to add information on.

Language-learning is not an easy undertaking, but with the right folks to guide you, it can not only be painless but even fun. Our team of language experts at HebrewPod101.com take pride in offering you enjoyable, engaging, and useful learning materials so you can learn Hebrew at your own pace and according to your own personal needs. 

Until next time, Shalom!

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The Top 10 Most Common Hebrew Questions & How to Answer Them

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Voltaire once famously said: “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” 

In Jewish tradition, in particular, questions are of immense importance. 

For instance, the Passover Seder invites the children to participate by asking Four Questions in Hebrew about the traditions particular to that meal. There’s another point in the Seder where we talk about the four types of children. The first three are the Good, the Wicked, and the Simpleton; each is characterized by the nature and content of the questions he asks about Passover. The final child is called He Who Does Not Know to Ask Questions, and we’re encouraged to ask the questions for him. 

So, you can see that questions are powerful and important in Judaism.

On a more basic level, questions are a frequent part of interpersonal communication, so they should certainly be considered an essential element in any language-learning endeavor. Whether introducing yourself or asking for the price of an item you’re interested in purchasing, it’s crucial to know not only how to ask a variety of questions, but also to be familiar with the most common answers to them. 

Luckily, unlike in English, the form of Hebrew questions generally follows the same form as statements, without any tricky grammar points.

In today’s lesson, we’re going to examine the top ten most common questions you might hear or want to ask of others. We’ll look at the form of each question, possible variations, and, as mentioned, the most common answers. As always, we need to keep in mind the necessary grammatical adjustments depending on who we’re addressing in terms of gender, as well as our own gender. 

Let’s have a look now at our list of common Hebrew questions and answers.

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  1. What’s your name?
  2. Where are you from?
  3. Do you speak ___?
  4. How are you?
  5. What do you do?
  6. Do you have ___?
  7. Do you like ___?
  8. What are you doing?
  9. Is everything okay?
  10. How much does _____ cost?
  11. HebrewPod101 is Here to Clear Up All Your Questions About Hebrew

1: What’s your name?

First Encounter

Perhaps the most common questions are those we use to ask for someone’s name. In Hebrew, there are actually a number of ways we can ask this. Note the difference between asking this question to a male versus a female.

  • מה שִׁמְךָ/שְׁמֵךְ?
    Mah shimkha/sh’mekh?
    “What’s your name?”
  • שמי דניאל.
    Shmi Daniel.
    “My name is Daniel.”
  • שמי דניאלה.
    Shmi Daniela.
    “My name is Daniela.”

We can also ask the same question using the longer possessive form, as follows. Both forms of this Hebrew question are common and completely acceptable, with no difference in formality between them.

  • מה השם שֶׁלְּךָ/שֶׁלָּךְ?
    Mah ha-shem shelkha/shelakh?
    “What’s your name?”
  • השם שלי (הוא) מיכאל.
    Ha-shem sheli (hu) Mikha’el.
    “My name’s Michael.”
  • השם שלי (הוא) מיכל.
    Ha-shem sheli (hu) Michal.
    “My name’s Michal.”

*Note that the word הוא (hu) is optional here.

Here’s another common way to formulate this question, along with example answers:

  • איך קוראים לְךָ/לָךְ?
    Eykh kor’im lekha/lakh?
    “What’s your name?” [Literally: “What are you called?”]
  • קוראים לי שלומי.
    Kor’im li Shlomi.
    “My name’s Shlomi.”
  • קוראים לי יפעת.
    Kor’im li Yif’at.
    “My name’s Yifat.”

2: Where are you from?

World Map with Pins

Another common question, often used as a follow-up to asking someone’s name, is asking where they’re from. This is a pretty straightforward question in Hebrew, though we do have to choose the right pronoun depending on the gender of the person we’re asking.

  • מאיפה אתה/את?
    Me-eyfoh atah/at?
    “Where are you from?”
  • אני מקנדה.
    Ani mi-Kanadah.
    “I’m from Canada.”
  • אני מפריז.
    Ani mi-Pariz.
    “I’m from Paris.”
  • אני מווירג’יניה שבארה”ב.
    Ani mi-Virjinyah she-be-Artzot ha-Brit.
    “I’m from Virginia, USA.”

3: Do you speak ___?

Introducing Yourself

This can be a very important question in Hebrew, particularly if you don’t know a word or phrase. Knowing if your Hebrew interlocutor speaks your language can be a lifesaver. Alternatively, native Hebrew-speakers may wish to ask a foreigner if he or she speaks Hebrew. Again, this is a very simple structure, as follows:

  • האם) אתה/את מדבר/מדברת אנגלית)?
    (Ha’im) atah/at medaber/medaberet Anglit?
    “Do you speak English?”
  • האם) אתה/את מדבר/מדברת צרפתית)?
    (Ha’im) atah/at medaber/medaberet Tzarfatit?
    “Do you speak French?”
  • האם) אתה/את מדבר/מדברת ספרדית)?
    (Ha’im) atah/at medaber/medaberet Sfaradit?
    “Do you speak Spanish?”
  • האם) אתה/את מדבר/מדברת עברית)?
    (Ha’im) atah/at medaber/medaberet Ivrit?
    “Do you speak Hebrew?”

*Note that the Hebrew question word האם (ha’im) is entirely optional.

Following are a few examples of how we might answer these questions.

  • כן, אני מדבר אנגלית שוטפת.
    Ken, ani medaber Anglit shotefet.
    “Yes, I speak fluent English.”
  • בטח, הצרפתית שלי מצויינת.
    Betakh, ha-Tzarfatit sheli metzuyenet.
    “Sure, my French is great.”
  • אני יודעת קצת ספרדית.
    Ani yoda’at ktzat Sfaradit.
    “I know a bit of Spanish.”
  • לא, אני לא יודעת עברית.
    Lo, ani lo yoda’at Ivrit.
    “No, I don’t know Hebrew.”

4: How are you?

Two People Talking

As anyone with the slightest of manners knows, it’s customary to ask someone how he or she is as a matter of courtesy. In fact, this type of language has a word—phatic communication—which is basically a fancy way of saying “small talk.” Just as in English, in Hebrew, it’s customary to ask about someone’s well-being when first greeting them. Following are the most common Hebrew questions to do so, and the kinds of answers you can expect.

  • מה שְׁלוֹמְךָ/שְׁלוֹמֵךְ?
    Mah shlomkha/shlomekh?
    “How are you?”

Obviously, we can answer in any number of ways, depending on our mood. Here are some of the more typical forms to answer this question.

  • שלומי טוב.
    Shlomi tov.
    “I’m good.”
  • אני בסדר.
    Ani be-seder.
    “I’m alright.”
  • לא רע.
    Lo ra’.
    “Not bad.”
  • הכל דבש.
    Ha-kol dvash.
    “Everything is great.” [Literally: “Everything is honey.”]

Here are some other common ways to ask someone how he or she is.

  • איך אתה/את?
    Eykh ata/at?
    “How are you?”
  • איך אתה/את מרגיש/מרגישה?
    Eykh ata/at margish/margishah?
    “How do you feel?”

5: What do you do?

Kids Dressed Up as Professionals

Another frequent question one may wish to ask is what someone does for a living. Note that there are a number of ways to ask this in Hebrew. Let’s have a look at the most common ones.

  • מה אתה/את עוֹשֶׂה/עוֹשָׂה בחיים?
    Mah atah/at oseh/osah ba-khayim?
    “What do you do in life?”
  • במה אתה/את עוסק/עוסקת?
    Be-mah atah/at osek/oseket?
    “What do you do for a living?”
  • במה אתה/את עובד/עובדת?
    Be-mah atah/at oved/ovedet?
    “What do you work in?”

There are a variety of possible answers, as well:

  • אני עובד במפעל.
    Ani oved be-mif’al.
    “I work in a factory.”
  • אני שוטרת.
    Ani shoteret.
    “I am a police officer.”
  • אני לומד באוניברסיטה.
    Ani lomed ba-universitah.
    “I study at university.”

6: Do you have ___?

Lady with Dog

Over the course of many different conversations, you may wish to ask if someone has someone or something. For instance, we may wish to ask if someone has a car, a pet, a hobby, children, and so on. As in English, the pattern for this is constant. 

  • יש לְךָ/לָךְ 10 שקלים?
    Yesh lekha/lakh ‘asarah shekalim?
    “Do you have ten shekels?”
  • יש לְךָ/לָךְ ילדים?
    Yesh lekha/lakh yeladim?
    “Do you have children?”
  • יש לְךָ/לָךְ אוטו?
    Yesh lekha/lakh oto?
    “Do you have a car?”

To answer these questions, we can just affirm or negate with “yes” or “no” (כן [ken] or לא [lo], respectively), or we can elaborate. Here are a couple of examples.

  • לא, אין עליי שקל.
    Lo, eyn alay shekel.
    “No, I don’t even have one shekel.”
  • כן, יש לי שני בנים ובת אחת.
    Ken, yesh li shney banim u-bat akhat.
    “Yes, I have two boys and a girl.”

7: Do you like ___?

Hands Making Heart Sign

It’s certainly quite common to ask someone whether he or she likes something or someone. Note that in Hebrew, there’s no separate word for “like” versus “love.” Rather, the context and intonation generally determine the intensity. Here are some examples of how to ask if someone likes something or someone.

  • אתה/את אוהב/אוהבת אוכל סיני?
    Atah/At ohev/ohevet okhel sini?
    “Do you like Chinese food?”
  • אתה/את אוהב/אוהבת לרכוב על אופניים?
    Atah/At ohev/ohevet lirkov ‘al ofanayim?
    “Do you like riding a bicycle?”
  • אתה/את אוהב/אוהבת את האנשים שאתה/שאת עובד/עובדת איתם?
    Atah/At ohev/ohevet et ha-anashim she-atah/she-at oved/ovedet itam?
    “Do you like the people you work with?”

Here are some possible answers, more elaborate than just a simple “yes” or “no.”

  • אני ממש אוהב אוכל סיני.
    Ani mamash ohev okhel sini.
    “I really like Chinese food.”
  • אני בכלל לא אוהבת לרכוב על אופניים.
    Ani bikhlal lo ohevet lirkov ‘al ofanayim.
    “I don’t like riding a bicycle at all.”
  • אני מאוד אוהבת את האנשים שאני עובדת איתם.
    Ani me’od ohevet et ha-anashim she-ani ovedet itam.
    “I like the people I work with very much.”

8: What are you doing?

Lady Texting

This is another simple question, but one that can come in handy in all manner of situations. This can be a casual question to find out what someone is up to in a given moment, or even a question of annoyance or anger if we don’t like what another person is doing. Obviously, the way one asks this question will make one’s intention clear, just as in English.

  • מה אתה/את עוֹשֶׂה/עוֹשָׂה?
    Mah atah/at oseh/osah?
    “What are you doing?”

We can also tag on a time indicator. For instance:

  • מה אתה/את עוֹשֶׂה/עוֹשָׂה כרגע?
    Mah atah/at ‘oseh/’osah karega’?
    “What are you doing right now?”

Answers to this question can vary greatly, depending on what the other person is doing. 

  • אני נוסע לתל אביב עם חברים.
    Ani nose’a le-Tel Aviv ‘im khaverim.
    “I’m headed to Tel Aviv with friends.”
  • אני מכינה לעצמי ארוחת ערב.
    Ani mekhinah le-’atzmi arukhat ‘erev.
    “I’m making myself some dinner.”
  • אני לומדת למבחן מחר.
    Ani lomedet la-mivkhan makhar.
    “I’m studying for tomorrow’s exam.”
  • אני לא עושה כלום.
    Ani lo ‘oseh klum.
    “I’m not doing anything.”

9: Is everything okay?

Lady Giving Ttwo Thumbs Up

Sometimes, you may wish to see if everything is alright with someone. For example, to check that something we’ve done or said is alright with them, or to check on someone who seems upset, in distress, or in need of help. Let’s look at some of the most common ways to ask this sort of question.

  • הכל בסדר?
    Ha-kol be-seder?
    “Is everything okay?”
  • האם) אתה/את בסדר)?
    (Ha’im) atah/at be-seder?
    “Are you okay?”
  • קרה משהו?
    Karah mashehu?
    “Did something happen?”
  • אתה/את צריך/צריכה עזרה?
    Atah/at tzarikh/tzrikhah ‘ezrah?
    “Are you in need of assistance?”

Here, too, answers can run the gamut. But to answer that everything’s fine, one would answer as follows:

  • הכל בסדר.
    Ha-kol be-seder.
    “Everything is fine.”

10: How much does _____ cost?

Price Tag in Supermarket

This is the type of question and answer in Hebrew you’ll want to become familiar with right away. In Israel, in particular, prices aren’t always printed, even in restaurants. Therefore, you’re more than likely to find yourself wanting to ask the price of something that interests you. By doing so in English, you run the risk of invoking the “foreigner tax,” by way of which prices are inflated with the assumption that foreigners won’t know how much a fair price for a given item or service might be.

Therefore, it’s wise to practice these questions so you can ask in Hebrew without breaking a sweat. Note that you’ll need to change the verb לעלות (la’alot), meaning “to cost,” depending on the grammatical gender of the item or service in question.

  • כמה עוֹלֶה המעיל הזה?
    Kamah ‘oleh ha-me’il ha-zeh?
    “How much does this jacket cost?”
  • כמה עוֹלָה השמלה הזאת?
    Kamah ‘olah ha-simlah ha-zot?
    “How much does this skirt cost?”
  • כמה עולה כרטיס הלוך ושוב לעפולה?
    Kamah oleh kartis halokh va-shov le-’Afulah?
    “How much is a roundtrip ticket to Afulah?”
  • כמה זה יעלה לי עם ביטוח?
    Kamah ze ya’aleh li ‘im bitu’akh?
    “How much will that cost me with insurance?”

Obviously, the answer to any question will be given using numbers and often the currency being used, which is almost always New Israeli Shekels, but sometimes also dollars or euros. Here are some examples of the different possible forms for expressing price in Hebrew:

  • השמלה עוֹלָה 20 שקל.
    Ha-simlah ‘olah ‘esrim Shekalim.
    “The dress costs twenty shekels.”
  • מחיר כרטיס הלוך ושוב הוא 13.50.
    Mekhir kartis halokh va-shov hu shlosh-’esreh khamishim.
    “The price of a roundtrip ticket is 13.50.”
  • עם ביטוח זה ייצא לך 327 דולר.
    ‘Im bitu’akh ze yeytzeh lekha shlosh-me’ot ‘esrim-ve-sheva’ dolar.
    “With insurance, it will come to $327.”

11: HebrewPod101 is Here to Clear Up All Your Questions About Hebrew

We hope you found today’s lesson useful. We can surely all appreciate the huge importance of being able to ask and answer basic questions in any language. Luckily, as mentioned, there’s no complex grammar to learn related to formulating questions. So go ahead and practice these top ten questions and answers in Hebrew so you’re fully equipped to deal with any basic situation that may arise.

Any questions you would like to ask in Hebrew that we left out? What about answers? We’re always happy to hear from you, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and let us know how we can help you! Shalom!

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Hebrew Keyboard: How to Install and Type in Hebrew

Thumbnail

You asked, so we provided—easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your electronic devices to write in Hebrew! We’ll also give you a few excellent tips on how to use this keyboard, as well as some online and app alternatives if you prefer not to set up a Hebrew keyboard.

Log in to Download Your Free Hebrew Alphabet Worksheet Table of Contents
  1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Hebrew
  2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Hebrew
  3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer
  4. How to Change the Language Settings to Hebrew on Your Computer
  5. Activating the Hebrew Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet
  6. Hebrew Keyboard Typing Tips
  7. How to Practice Typing Hebrew

1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Hebrew

A keyboard

Learning a new language is made so much easier when you’re able to read and write/type it. This way, you will:

  • Get the most out of any dictionary and Hebrew language apps on your devices
  • Expand your ability to find Hebrew websites and use the various search engines
  • Be able to communicate much better online with your Hebrew teachers and friends, and look super cool in the process! 

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Hebrew

A phone charging on a dock

It takes only a few steps to set up any of your devices to read and type in Hebrew. It’s super-easy on your mobile phone and tablet, and a simple process on your computer.

On your computer, you’ll first activate the onscreen keyboard to work with. You’ll only be using your mouse or touchpad/pointer for this keyboard. Then, you’ll need to change the language setting to Hebrew, so all text will appear in Hebrew. You could also opt to use online keyboards instead. Read on for the links!

On your mobile devices, it’s even easier—you only have to change the keyboard. We also provide a few alternatives in the form of online keyboards and downloadable apps.

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Check the option “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar.”

3. You’ll see a new icon on the right side of the main bar; click on it and select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

1. Go to Start > Settings > Easy Access > Keyboard.

2. Turn on the option for “Onscreen Keyboard.”

3- Online Keyboards

If you don’t want to activate your computer’s onscreen keyboard, you also have the option to use online keyboards. Here are some good options:

4- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

Instead of an online keyboard, you could also choose to download a Google extension to your browser for a language input tool. The Google Input Tools extension allows users to use input tools in Chrome web pages, for example.

4. How to Change the Language Settings to Hebrew on Your Computer

Man looking at his computer

Now that you’re all set to work with an onscreen keyboard on your computer, it’s time to download the Hebrew language pack for your operating system of choice:

  • Windows 8 (and higher)
  • Windows 7
  • Mac (OS X and higher)

1- Windows 8 (and higher)

  1. Go to “Settings” > “Change PC Settings” > “Time & Language” > “Region & Language.”
  2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “Hebrew.” This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as עברית with the note “language pack available.”
  3. Click on עברית > “Options” > “Download.” It’ll take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.
  4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “Hebrew- עברית.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts.

2- Windows 7

1. Go to Start > Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region.

2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”

3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “Hebrew.”

4. Expand the option of “Hebrew” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “Hebrew.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

3- Mac (OS X and higher)

If you can’t see the language listed, please make sure to select the right option from System Preferences > Language and Region

1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Click the Input Sources tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.

3. Click on the plus button, select “Hebrew,” and add the “Hebrew” keyboard.

Adding a system language

5. Activating the Hebrew Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet

Texting and searching in Hebrew will greatly help you master the language! Adding a Hebrew keyboard on your mobile phone and/or tablet is super-easy.

You could also opt to download an app instead of adding a keyboard. Read on for our suggestions.

Below are the instructions for both iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets.

1- iOS

1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”

3. Select “Hebrew” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

2- Android

1. Go to Settings > General Management > Language and Input > On-screen Keyboard (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > Samsung Keyboard.

2. Tap “Language and Types” or “ + Select Input Languages” depending on the device and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.

3. Select עברית from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

If you don’t want to add a keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, these are a few good apps to consider:

6. Hebrew Keyboard Typing Tips

Typing in Hebrew can be very challenging at first! Therefore, we added here a few useful tips to make it easier to use your Hebrew keyboard.

A man typing on a computer
  • Make sure to set the alignment of the page and the direction of writing to “right to left.”
  • Some letters have final forms and they all have a unique key on the keyboard.

7. How to Practice Typing Hebrew

As you probably know by now, learning Hebrew is all about practice, practice, and more practice! Strengthen your Hebrew typing skills by writing comments on any of our lesson pages, and our teacher will answer. If you’re a HebrewPod101 Premium PLUS member, you can directly text our teacher via the My Teacher app—use your Hebrew keyboard to do this!

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Secret Revealed: The Best Way to Learn a Language on Your Own

Learning A Language on Your Own

Can You Really Learn Hebrew Alone?

Learning a language on your own or without traditional classroom instruction may seem quite daunting at first. What if you run into questions? How do you stay motivated and on track to achieving goals?

Don’t worry, not only is it possible to learn Hebrew or any language without traditional classroom instruction: HebrewPod101 has created the world’s most advanced and extensive online language learning system. Not only is HebrewPod101 specifically designed to help you with learning a language on your own, it’s actually faster, more convenient, and less expensive than traditional classroom options!

Let’s look at some of the benefits of learning Hebrew or any language alone.

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Also, don’t forget to download your free cheat sheet – How to Improve Your Language Skills too!

3 Reasons to Learn a Language Alone

Learning Alone

1. Learn at Your Own Pace and On Your Schedule

In today’s fast-paced world, there just isn’t time for traditional classroom instruction. Between getting to class and studying on some professor or teacher’s schedule, traditional classroom learning is simply impossible to fit in. But when you learn Hebrew alone, you can study in bed if you like and whenever suits your schedule best, making it far easier to actually reach your goal of learning and mastering the language.

2. Learning a Language on Your Own Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Speaking in front of a class, pop quizzes, and tests are just a few of the stressors you will encounter when you learn a language in a traditional classroom setting. Specifically, these are external stressors that often derail most people’s dream of learning a new language. But when you learn Hebrew alone, there are no external stressors. Without the external stress and anxiety, it becomes much easier and more exciting to study Hebrew and reach your very own goals—all on your own!

3. Learning Hebrew Alone Helps Improve Cognitive Function and Overall Success

Learning a language on your own is indeed more challenging in some ways than being taught in a traditional classroom setting. In fact, while classroom instruction requires more rote memorization and following instructions, studying a language on your own requires more problem-solving and higher cognitive function to self-teach lessons and hit goals. So while it’s more challenging and requires higher levels of cognition, teaching yourself a language pays dividends throughout life by better preparing you for social/work opportunities that arise.

How to Learn a Language on Your Own with HebrewPod101

Learning with HebrewPod101

1. Access to the World’s Largest Collection of Hebrew Audio & Video Lessons

The best way to learn a language on your own is to study from native speaking instructors. Ideally, you want audio and/or video lessons that teach vocabulary, grammar, and provide actual Hebrew conversations and dialogue to help you with pronunciation. HebrewPod101 has hundreds of hours of HD audio and video lessons created by real Hebrew instructors and every lesson is presented by professional Hebrew actors for perfect pronunciation. Plus, all lessons can be accessed 24/7 via any mobile device with Internet access. And, if you download the PDF versions of each lesson, you can even study without Internet access once the lesson is stored on your device!

2. “Learning Paths” with Hebrew Courses Based Upon Your Exact Needs & Goals

Although HebrewPod101 has more than thousands of video and audio lessons, you need not review each and every one to learn the language. In fact, HebrewPod101 has developed a feature called “Learning Paths”. You simply tell us your goals and we will identify the best courses and study plan to help you reach them in the shortest time possible. So even though you are technically learning a language on your own, our team is always here to help and make sure you reach your goals FAST!

3. Advanced Learning Tools Reduce Learning Time and Boost Retention

When you have the right tools and Hebrew learning resources, it’s actually easy to teach yourself a language! In the past 10+ years, HebrewPod101 has developed, tested, and refined more than 20 advanced learning tools to boost retention and reduce learning time, including:

  • Spaced Repetition Flashcards
  • Line-by-Line Dialogue Breakdown
  • Review Quizzes
  • Voice Recording Tools to Help Perfect Pronunciation
  • Teacher Feedback and Comments for Each Lesson
  • Hebrew Dictionary with Pronunciation
  • Free PDF Cheat Sheets
  • And Much More!

Armed with our growing collection of advanced learning tools, it’s truly a breeze to learn Hebrew alone and reach your goals!

Conclusion

Learning a language on your own is not only possible, it’s actually easier and more beneficial for you than traditional classroom instruction. In fact, when you learn Hebrew on your own you can study at your own pace, eliminate stress, and actually increase cognitive function.

HebrewPod101 is the world’s most advanced online language learning system and a great resource to help you teach yourself a new language. With the world’s largest collection of HD audio and video lessons, more than 20 advanced learning tools, and customized “Learning Paths”, HebrewPod101 makes learning a new language easier, more convenient, and less expensive than traditional classroom instruction.

And the best part is: With HebrewPod101, you can study in bed, your car, or wherever you have a few spare minutes of time. Create your Free Lifetime Account now and get a FREE ebook to help “kickstart” your dream of learning a language on your own below!

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Language Learning Tips: How to Avoid Awkward Silences

Avoid Awkward Silences

Yes, even beginners can quickly learn conversational Hebrew well enough to carry on real conversations with native speakers. Of course, beginners won’t be able to carry a conversation the same way they could in their native language. But, just knowing a few tips like which questions to ask to keep a conversation going are all you need to speak and interact with real native speakers! But before we get to specific suggestions, let’s first take a closer look at how having real Hebrew conversations is so vital to your mastery of the language.

Learning to Carry a Conversation is Vital to Mastery of Any Language

Communicating with other people is the very point of language and conversation is almost second nature in our native tongue. For beginners or anyone learning a new language, conversations aren’t easy at all and even simple Hebrew greetings can be intimidating and awkward.

However, there are 3 vital reasons why you should learn conversational Hebrew as quickly as possible:

  • Avoid Awkward Silences: Nothing kills a conversation faster than long periods of awkward silence, so you need practice and specific strategies to avoid them.
  • Improve the Flow of Conversation to Make a Better Impression: When you know what to say to keep a conversation going, communication becomes much easier and you make a better impression on your listener.
  • Master the Language Faster: Nothing will help you learn to speak Hebrew faster and truly master the language than having real conversations with native speakers. Conversations quickly expose you to slang, cultural expressions, and vocabulary that force you to absorb and assimilate information faster than any educational setting—and that’s a great thing!

But how can you possibly have real conversations with real Hebrew people if you are just starting out?

3 Conversation Strategies for Beginners

Conversation

1. Ask Questions to Keep a Conversation Going

For beginners and even more advanced speakers, the key is to learn to ask questions to keep a conversation going. Of course, they can’t be just random questions or else you may confuse the listener. But, by memorizing a few key questions and the appropriate time to use them, you can easily carry a conversation with minimal vocabulary or experience. And remember, the more Hebrew conversations you have, the quicker you will learn and master the language!

2. Learn Core Vocabulary Terms as Quickly as Possible

You don’t need to memorize 10,000’s of words to learn conversational Hebrew. In fact, with just a couple hundred Hebrew words you could have a very basic Hebrew conversation. And by learning maybe 1,000-2,000 words, you could carry a conversation with a native speaker about current events, ordering in restaurants, and even getting directions.

3. Study Videos or Audio Lessons that You Can Play and Replay Again and Again

If you want to know how to carry a conversation in Hebrew, then you need exposure to native speakers—and the more the better. Ideally, studying video or audio lessons is ideal because they provide contextualized learning in your native language and you can play them again and again until mastery.

HebrewPod101 Makes it Easier and More Convenient Than Ever to Learn Conversational Hebrew

Learning Hebrew

For more than 10 years, HebrewPod101 has been helping students learn to speak Hebrew by creating the world’s most advanced online language learning system. Here are just a few of the specific features that will help you learn conversational Hebrew fast using our proven system:

  • The Largest Collection of HD Video & Audio Lessons from Real Hebrew Instructors: HebrewPod101 instructors have created hundreds of video and audio lessons that you can play again and again. And the best part is: They don’t just teach you Hebrew vocabulary and grammar, they are designed to help you learn to speak Hebrew and teach you practical everyday topics like shopping, ordering, etc!
  • Pronunciation Tools: Use this feature to record and compare yourself with native speakers to quickly improve your pronunciation and fluency!
  • 2000 Common Hebrew Words: Also known as our Core List, these 2,000 words are all you need to learn to speak fluently and carry a conversation with a native speaker!

In all, more than 20 advanced learning tools help you quickly build vocabulary and learn how to carry a conversation with native speakers—starting with your very first lesson.

Conclusion

Although it may seem intimidating for a beginner, the truth is that it is very easy to learn conversational Hebrew. By learning a few core vocabulary terms and which questions to ask to keep a conversation going, just a little practice and exposure to real Hebrew conversations or lessons is all it really takes. HebrewPod101 has created the world’s largest online collection of video and audio lessons by real instructors plus loads of advanced tools to help you learn to speak Hebrew and carry a conversation quickly.

Act now and we’ll also include a list of the most commonly used questions to keep a conversation going so you can literally get started immediately!

How to Transform Your Daily Commute Into Learning a Language

Learn a language during your commute!

Today, classrooms are no longer the only or even best place to learn a new language like Hebrew. More and more people are finding that they can easily learn a language just about anywhere they have a few minutes of spare time, including their daily commute to work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American spends over 50 minutes a day commuting to and from work, or over 300 hours a year.

Rethinking Your Daily Commute to Work

But rather than simply sitting in traffic and wasting the time, you can instead use your daily commute to literally learn Hebrew in just a few short months! HebrewPod101 has developed specialized learning tools that you can use on your commute to work (and home again) to master the language in your spare time. Keep reading to learn how to get your free audiobook to use on your next commute so you can see for yourself how easy it is to transform “dead time” into realizing your dream of learning a new language!

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But before we look at how to transform your commute home into a mini-classroom, let’s take a closer look at 4 reasons why traditional classroom settings just aren’t the best option for most people in today’s fast-paced world.

  • Difficulty Getting to and From Class
  • Learning on Someone Else’s Schedule
  • Very Expensive and May Cost $1,000’s to Complete
  • Can Take Years to Finally Complete Classes and Learn the Language

The simple truth is that traditional classroom instruction is simply not a viable option for most people in today’s very fast-paced, time-starved world. Now let’s examine how you can learn a language faster, more easily, and at far less expense than traditional classes—all during your commute to work and back home again!

Bus

3 Reasons Your Daily Commute Can Help You Master a Language

1. The Average Commute Time is More than 300 Hours Per Year

Between the commute to work and getting back home again, over 6 hours a week is completely wasted and not helping you reach any goals or objectives. But thanks to online language learning platforms with audiobooks and other resources that you can access during your commute, you can easily transform wasted time into tangible progress towards learning a new language. With over 300 hours available annually, your daily commute could provide you with enough time to literally master a new language each and every year!

2. Increase Your Earning Potential While Commuting to Work

How would you like to transform all those spare commuting hours each week into more money for a new car, house, or even a dream vacation? According to research, someone making $30,000 per year can boost their annual income by $600 or more per year by learning a second language. Added up over the course of a lifetime, you can boost your total earnings by $70,000 or more while achieving your dream of learning a new language during your daily commute!

How? From work-at-home translation jobs to working overseas, there are many ways to leverage your second language into more money in your bank account! So instead of wasting your precious time, you can make your commute more productive and profitable and the more languages you learn, the higher your income potential.

3. Repetition is Key to Mastering a New Language

Not sure if it’s practical to learn another language while commuting to and from work each day? Well not only is it possible—learning in your car on the way to and from work each day can actually help you learn and master Hebrew or any language much faster! The simple truth is that repetition is absolutely vital to truly internalizing and mastering any language. So, if you listen to audiobooks or even audio lessons on your commute to work and then repeat the same lesson on your commute home, the information is more likely to be “locked-in” to your long-term memory!

Learning

5 Ways HebrewPod101 Makes It Easy to Learn a Language On Your Commute

HebrewPod101 has been helping people just like yourself learn and master Hebrew in the comfort of their home, during their daily commute, or any place they have a few minutes of spare time. Here are five features provided by HebrewPod101 that make it easy to learn a new language while commuting to and from work:

1. The Largest Collection of Audio Lessons on Planet by Native Speaking Instructors
Every single week, HebrewPod101 creates new audio lessons by native speaking instructors. All lessons are short, to the point, and guaranteed to improve your mastery of Hebrew.

2. Word of the Day
Simply exposing yourself to new information and vocabulary terms helps increase your fluency and mastery of Hebrew. So every single day, HebrewPod101 adds a new Word of the Day for you to learn and memorize during your commute.

3. Daily Dose Mini-Lessons
Have a short commute to work but still want to make progress towards learning and mastering Hebrew? Not a problem! Our Daily Dose Mini-Lessons are 1-minute or less and designed to improve your grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.

4. All Content Available on a Convenient Mobile App
You don’t need a PC or tablet to learn Hebrew during your daily commute. At HebrewPod101, all of our lessons, tools, and resources are available 24/7 via our Mobile App. That means you can access all of our audio lessons and other tools during your commute to work or any time you have a few spare moments!

5. Audiobooks and Other Supplemental Resources
In addition to the world’s largest online collection of HD audio lessons, HebrewPod101 has also created several audiobooks to enhance your understanding and make it more convenient than ever to learn a language during your commute!

Conclusion

The average commute time of most Americans is over 300 hours each year and it’s the perfect opportunity to learn and master a new language. In fact, you can use the “dead time” during your daily commute to learn a new language and potentially boost your lifetime earnings by up to $70,000 or more! Whatever your motivation, HebrewPod101 has the tools and resources necessary to help you learn a new language each year during your commute to and from work. Act now and we’ll even provide you with a free audiobook to try out on your next commute!

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5 Ways to Profit from Your Mistakes While Learning Hebrew

5 Ways to Profit from Your Mistakes While Learning Hebrew

The fear of making mistakes is one of the biggest roadblocks to language learning. Out of all the discomforts that come with learning a foreign language nothing looms quite as daunting in the mind of a beginner.

It’s almost as if we’re hardwired to want perfection when we speak. However the reality is that mistakes are unavoidable. I’d even go so far as to say that they’re an integral part of the learning process.

But still we try are hardest to fight them, thinking that perhaps the key to learning rests in the flashiest method or the LiveFluent Hebrew course or HebrewPod101.

Think of small children who are just starting to learn English. They mispronounce words. They use words incorrectly, and their grammar is usually pretty lousy. Sometimes they even make up their own words. Research and academic opinion show that this is all a natural part of the process. If making mistakes made up such a huge part of learning our native language, why do you expect it to be any different when learning a foreign one?

In this post we’ll talk about five ways you profit from your mistakes while learning Hebrew. Because in the end mistakes shouldn’t be feared they should be welcomed. The more you make the faster you will learn.

1) Be humble

There’s no room for pride when you’re learning Hebrew. If you’re a beginner, native speakers will likely be very accommodating with your mistakes and slower reaction times during conversations. There’s no reason to be embarrassed. Remember that it’s a sign of respect to learn another person’s language. No one expects you to speak flawlessly right from the start. No on else with hold your mistakes against you, so make sure you don’t either.

2) Don’t play the comparison game

Whether it’s a native speaker or another Hebrew learner don’t make the mistake of comparing your progress to someone else’s. No doubt at the beginning there will be times when it feels like everyone is speaking perfect Hebrew while you’re left you in the dust.

Try not to get discouraged. It’s your race to run not theirs. Everyone has their story, their own reason and method for learning Hebrew. Comparing your progress to someone else’s is like well…comparing apples and oranges.

It’s easy to freak out when someone speaks perfectly while you’re struggling to make the most basic sentences. But don’t forget that while you can easily see someone else’s success, you’re much less likely to see the hard work that got them their. Every Hebrew speaker you meet had to learn the language at some point. Whether it was as a child or an adult they too had to wade through their mistakes before they could speak fluently.

Get feedback on your mistakes

3) Get feedback on your mistakes

Anytime you write or speak Hebrew try to get feedback from someone who speaks the language. I cannot stress this enough. You can make mistakes day and night, but if you’re never corrected they do you no good. You can’t learn from a mistake if you don’t know that it’s a mistake. Many in the language learning community hold that feedback is an integral part of the language acquisition process.

Encourage friends and language partners to correct your Hebrew anytime all the time. Worst case scenario you’ll make a mistake 100 times and get corrected 100 times. It might seem petty or frustrating, but it’s all worth it the 101st time when you finally remember your mistake and start speaking correctly.

Some mistakes will be easy to amend and you’ll adjust your Hebrew right away. Others might take awhile. Speaking a foreign language is a lot like juggling. There are a lot of moving pieces you have to keep in place. Whether it’s pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary getting feedback on your effort will help refine your Hebrew until you feel comfortable in the language.

Listen to your brain

4) Listen to your brain

After all the practice and feedback, eventually you’ll start to notice that certain Hebrew words come to mind quicker than you have the chance to think about them. Instead of having to scan your brain for the latest “Hebrew word file”, you sort of instinctively come up with a word for a given sentence.

Don’t hesitate to blurt this word out. Sometimes it will be completely wrong. Other times it will be dead on. When words start coming to mind instinctively that means your brain is starting to get more and more used to using Hebrew. The incorrect words (I like to call them brain farts), are sort of like growing pains. You’ll have them for a little while but over time you’ll see them less and less until all of your instinctual words are correct (this is essentially fluency).

So don’t let the fear of making a mistake short circuit your brain’s natural learning process. Go with whatever word your brain gives you!

5) Never take the easy way out

If there are two ways to say what you want to say in Hebrew, one you know and are comfortable with, and the other you’re not sure off….use the one you’re least comfortable with. Purposely choose subjects and sentence constructions that are difficult for you. Don’t get complacent and fall into the trap of using the same phrase over and over again, or having the same type of conversation with a language partner.

You always want to push the boundaries. Think of it as lifting weights. If you only ever lift 20 lbs for 20 reps, you’re not likely to get stronger after a certain point. Eventually you have to increase the weight. When you do it’ll burn and it won’t be comfortable, but overtime your body will adapt and you will become stronger.

It’s the same with languages. Except in this case your brain is the muscle and the weights are the difficulty of the language.

6) Enjoy the language for its own sake

Small children not only make a ton of mistakes when they learn to speak, they also have a ton of fun. To them life and language are both one giant mysterious adventure. They aren’t worried about making progress, impressing people, or speaking perfectly.

Take a note from their playbook. Enjoy Hebrew as you learn it. Let your focus be on the beauty and magic of the language. Savor the times you get to use it. If you loosen up and enjoy the ride you will learn much faster.

Final thoughts

Mistakes are a powerful and indispensable part of learning a language. I hope this post inspired you to stop being afraid of them and start embracing them. This subtle change in outlook could mean the world to your Hebrew learning!

How to Start Thinking in Hebrew

Learn 4 tools and techniques to stop translating in your head and start thinking in Hebrew

Going through Hebrew lessons is enough to get by and learn the basics of Hebrew, but to truly become fluent you need to be able to think in Hebrew. This will allow you to have conversations with ease, read smoothly, and comprehensively understand natives. To do this, you need to go beyond just completing daily or weekly lessons.

We naturally translate in our heads because it’s viewed as the easiest way to learn the definitions needed when learning a language. This way of learning can actually hinder your skills and fluency later on. If your brain has to make neural connections between the word you’re learning, what it means in your native tongue, and the physical object the connection will not be nearly as strong. When you bypass the original translation between Hebrew and your native language then there is a more basic and strong connection between just the Hebrew vocabulary word and the tangible object.

start thinking in Hebrew

In this blog post, you will learn the 4 important techniques to easily and naturally begin to speculate about the daily occurrences in your life. The best part is all of these techniques are supported and can be achieved through HebrewPod101.com.

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1. Surround yourself with Hebrew

Surround Yourself

By surrounding yourself with Hebrew constantly you will completely immerse yourself in the language. Without realizing it you’ll be learning pronunciation, sentence structures, grammar, and new vocabulary. You can play music in the background while you’re cooking or have a Hebrew radio station on while you study. Immersion is a key factor with this learning process because it is one of the easiest things to do, but very effective. Even if you are not giving the program your full attention you will be learning.

One great feature of HebrewPod101.com is the endless podcasts that are available to you. You can even download and listen to them on the go. These podcasts are interesting and are perfect for the intention of immersion, they are easy to listen to as background noise and are interesting enough to give your full attention. Many of them contain stories that you follow as you go through the lessons which push you to keep going.

2. Learn through observation
learn through observation

Learning through observation is the most natural way to learn. Observation is how we all learned our native languages as infants and it’s a wonder why we stop learning this way. If you have patience and learn through observation then Hebrew words will have their own meanings rather than meanings in reference to your native language. Ideally, you should skip the bilingual dictionary and just buy a dictionary in Hebrew.

HebrewPod101.com also offers the materials to learn this way. We have numerous video lessons which present situational usage of each word or phrase instead of just a direct translation. This holds true for many of our videos and how we teach Hebrew.

3. Speak out loud to yourself
talk to yourself

Speaking to yourself in Hebrew not only gets you in the mindset of Hebrew, but also makes you listen to how you speak. It forces you to correct any errors with pronunciation and makes it easy to spot grammar mistakes. When you speak out loud talk about what you did that day and what you plan to do the next day. Your goal is to be the most comfortable speaking out loud and to easily create sentences. Once you feel comfortable talking to yourself start consciously thinking in your head about your daily activities and what is going on around you throughout the day.

With HebrewPod101.com you start speaking right away, not only this, but they have you repeat words and conversations after a native Hebrew speaker. This makes your pronunciation very accurate! With this help, you are on the fast path to making clear and complex sentences and then actively thinking about your day.

4. Practice daily

If you don’t practice daily then your progress will be greatly slowed. Many people are tempted to take the 20-30 minutes they should be practicing a day and practice 120 in one day and skip the other days. This isn’t nearly as effective because everyday you practice you are reinforcing the skills and knowledge you have learned. If you practice all in one day you don’t retain the information because the brain can realistically only focus for 30 minutes at most. If you’re studying for 120 minutes on the same subject little of the information will be absorbed. Studying everyday allows you to review material that you went over previous days and absorb a small amount of information at a time.

It’s tough to find motivation to study everyday, but HebrewPod101.com can help. It’s easy to stay motivated with HebrewPod101.com because we give you a set learning path, with this path we show how much progress you’ve made. This makes you stick to your goals and keep going!

Conclusion

Following the steps and having patience is the hardest part to achieving your goals, it’s not easy learning a new language. You are essentially teaching your brain to categorize the world in a completely new way. Stick with it and you can do it just remember the 4 tools I taught you today! With them, conversations, reading, and understanding will become much easier. The most important thing to remember is to use the tools that HebrewPod101.com provides and you will be on your way to being fluent!

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The 5 Review Tactics that Will Sharpen Your Hebrew

top 5 review tactics to boost your hebrew

Have you ever returned to HebrewPod101 lessons you’ve completed?

Accessing a lesson once is enough to learn more Hebrew. But to master what you’ve learned, to understand Hebrew the second you hear it, to read with just a quick glance, and to speak smoothly, without thinking… you need to review.

In this blog post, you’ll learn the 5 review tactics and learning tools that will truly sharpen your Hebrew (all of which I’ve been able to resources for on HebrewPod101.com).

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1. Listen to lines over and over again!

One of the best ways to learn Hebrew (or any language) is to listen to native speakers over and over again until you understand what they are saying. By listening closely and often, you start to pick up the rhythm of a language and pronunciation from a native speaker. It’s not surprising, then, that Innovative Language offers a great line-by-line feature that lets you listen (and read along!) as many times as you’d like. I really recommend taking advantage of this feature— aside from moving to Israel, it is the best way to immerse yourself in the language.

2. Use a voice-recording tool to perfect pronunciation.

No one likes to hear themselves recorded, but it is a great way to perfect your pronunciation! Record yourself and compare against a fluent speaker. If you sound different, repeat after the fluent speaker until your pronunciation matches. Innovative Language has a great voice-recording feature that makes recording super easy. Never hesitate or be shy about your pronunciation again.

review tactics

3. Master recorded conversations.

Another excellent way to review your Hebrew is to record conversations and go over them again and again until you have the entire conversation mastered and can repeat it line by line. Now, it might be kind of awkward trying to explain to someone why you are recording them speak so it is fortunate that Innovative Language has dialogues available for download right off of their website. I found these also come with transcripts of the entire conversation, which is great if you don’t want to spend tons of time translating the conversation yourself.

4. Use mobile devices to reinforce previously learned conversations.

It might sound redundant at this point, but constant review is the best, and only, way to perfect Hebrew. In that spirit, I strongly recommend downloading the recorded dialogue to your mobile device and incorporating it into your music playlist. You’ll be amazed how effectively quick reviews throughout a day can reinforce what you’ve learned.

review tactics

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5. Read with line by line notes.

The guaranteed accurate transcript of the recorded dialogues is one of the most useful features Innovative Language offers. You can read along with a fluent speaker to really master pronunciation and natural conversation. You should start slow at first, then slowly increase the speed with each pass through. Every time you read through, your pronunciation will become more intuitive and your ability to understand fluent speakers will greatly increase.

Imagine a child who just learned how to read. At first, they slowly struggle through a sentence, but on the second try, they know what the most of the words sound like and so they read a bit faster and easier and on the third try, they read that sentence at normal, native speed.

review tactics

Improve Now your Reading Skills by Learning More Vocabulary

Using these five simple review techniques the most challenging parts of learning Hebrew will become your areas of comfort. Conversations will no longer be excruciating and embarrassing, but rather offer a chance to show off your new skills and communicate with someone from a different culture in their natural language. You will be able to casually listen to Hebrew and understand everything. Reading, too, will become natural and enjoyable.

Learning any language takes time and dedication. With the right focus, however, you can ensure the maximum impact of your efforts. Consistently listening to fluent speakers, recording your own voice and comparing it against fluent speakers, mastering conversations, listening to them on go, and following along with written transcripts will put you on the path to becoming fluent in Hebrew. Learn from the mistakes that so many have made, myself included, don’t let what you’ve already learned slip away.

Review, review, review!