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Lesson Transcript

Shira: All About Hebrew Lesson Number 4 – Hebrew Pronunciation Made Easy. Welcome back to HebrewPod101.com.
Amir: [שלום]
Shira: And welcome to this episode of All About Hebrew. In this lesson, we’re going to share about Hebrew pronunciation.
Amir: Hebrew has some letters that may seem a bit scary the first time you pronounce them. But we’ll help you get a good foundation that will set you on the right track.
Shira: From experience, one of the best ways to get Hebrew pronunciation down is to listen and repeat and then listen and repeat again.
Amir: Just copy the sounds a native speaker makes, like me.
Shira: Just like that annoying song you can’t get out of your head. One day Hebrew will get stuck in your head and you’ll be set for life.
Amir: So try to copy the sounds of the letters and the words I say today. That’ll get you on the road to speaking Hebrew.
Shira: True. Learning about the Hebrew alphabet first will help make things clearer.
Amir: Let’s briefly repeat the characteristics of the Hebrew alphabet.
Shira: There are 22 in total in the Hebrew alphabet, and five general vowel sounds that accompany these letters.
Amir: And when these vowels are read in words, they sound as follows. [אה] as in tart, [אה], as in bet, [אי] as in ski, [או] as in more, and [או] and in loop.
Shira: There are many symbols for these five vowel sounds, but like we said in our All About lesson on the alphabet, you likely won’t be using these vowel symbols for very long.
Amir: We won’t go through the whole alphabet in this lesson, but if you really want to progress in your Hebrew pronunciation, you can listen to our pronunciation series online. Just go to HebrewPod101.com to download them.
Shira: Right. So there are a few important points about Hebrew pronunciation we need to tell you about.
Amir: The first thing we need to mention is where you put the accent in Hebrew words.
Shira: That’s an easy one. Most Hebrew words have the stress on the last syllable. And if the stress is not on that last syllable, it’s probably on the second to last syllable.
Amir: But be careful, depending on where the accent is, the meaning can change too.
Shira: For example, although the following two words are spelled exactly the same, if I put the stress on the last syllable and say [בוקר], I’m talking about a cowboy. If I move the stress to the syllable before and say [בוקר], I'm talking about morning.
Amir: Moving on to the second point, the letters of the alphabet.
Shira: The Hebrew alphabet is made up of only consonants and the whole structure of the language is centered on those consonants.
Amir: There are five consonants sounds in Hebrew that may be a little foreign to a non-native speaker.
Shira: Yes, let’s hear them now.
Amir: Ok. The first letter we want to introduce is [צד״י]. You make the sound by placing your tongue against your upper teeth and sending through a quick puff of air.
Shira: If you are familiar with the word [קיבוץ], you’ll notice that the sound comes at the end of that word.
Amir: Moving on to the next letter. [חי״ת]. You articulate this letter by creating friction with your tongue near the back of your mouth. It’s like when you say Bach.
Shira: This is one of the letters that many people are afraid of. Sometimes I get it stuck in the back of my throat and I just can’t get it out.
Amir: That’s why you need to practice, practice, practice. Just say it over and over until it flows freely from your mouth. The next letter is [רי״שׁ]. This is a letter articulated in the same place, but like a roller R.
Shira: This is a tough letter for non-native speakers to pronounce.
Amir: It surely is. I can usually tell a foreign speaker by the [רי״ש].
Shira: Oh, no. Is it that bad?
Amir: No, no. you’re ok. There’s no need to worry. There are so many immigrants in Israel now that you can feel fine speaking Hebrew no matter how you pronounce the letters.
Shira: That’s true. I’ve always felt quite confident speaking Hebrew in Israel, because I know that Israelis are very patient with non-native speakers.
Amir: Ok. Let’s move on to the letter that even Israelis can’t agree on how to pronounce. [עי״ן].
Shira: Yeah, I’ve never succeeded with that one.
Amir: You and most of the population. The correct way to pronounce it is way back in your throat. Many [ספרדי] Jews use it correctly when they speak, but most Israelis just articulate it like an [אל״ף].
Shira: Notice that we didn’t give you a sound to go along with this letter. We only told you how to say it. That’s because [עי״ן] is one of the five letters that carry the sound of the following vowel.
Amir: Today, two of these letters are sometimes treated as vowels. These letters are [יו״ד], which is sometimes used like the vowel E, and [ו״ו] which is sometimes used like the letter O.
Shira: These are not the only letters that change sounds from time to time. Six other letters called the [בגד כפ״ת] letters traditionally change sound depending on where they are placed in the word.
Amir: Only three of those letters still change sound today. They are [בי״ת], which carries both the [ב] sound and the [ו] sound, [כ״ף], which carries the [כ] sound and the [כ] sound, and finally [פ״ה], which carries the [פ] sound and the [פ] sound.
Shira: Amir, while we’re talking about letters that change sounds, maybe we should mention [שין] and [שין].
Amir: Well, [שין] and [שין] are actually two different letters represented by the same symbol. A dot of the top right or left of the symbol distinguishes the one from the other.
Shira: But we shouldn’t stop there. On top of [שין] and [שין], there are a few sounds that don’t exist in Hebrew that are represented by letters in the Hebrew alphabet with a slight alteration.
Amir: You mean sounds such as [ז’ה], as in pleasure? [צ’ה] as in church? [ג’ה] as in job? And [ת’ה] as in thanks.
Shira: Those were the ones I was thinking of. So what do Israelis do when they want to write foreign words with these sounds?
Amir: Well, they simply take letters close to these sounds, and they adapt them by adding an apostrophe. So the sound [ז’ה] is represented by [זי’ן] with an apostrophe. [צ’ה] is represented by [צד״י] with an apostrophe. [ג’ה] is represented by [גימ”ל] with an apostrophe. And [ת’ה] is represented by [ת״ף] with an apostrophe.
Shira: Now remember, one of the best ways to get Hebrew pronunciation down is to listen and repeat, and listen and repeat again, which is something you can do at HebrewPod101.com. You have audio files of native speakers and even a voice recorder for you to see how you sound in comparison.
Amir: So we look forward to seeing you at the website.


Please to leave a comment.
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HebrewPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Can you already pronounce all the Hebrew characters?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 11:15 PM
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Hi Joshua,

Thanks for posting your question!

Well, this is a very individual issue. Some feel like they can't move forward before everything they learned so far is 100% clear, while others move on even though some things are not completely clear and hope to "close the gaps" later on... both ways are okay, of course.

Important to say that the lessons do have certain repetitions in them on some topics, that will enable you to understand and train topics that were learned in previous lessons.

The best advice I can give is: try it out and see what work best for you 😄

I hope that helps :)



Team HebrewPod101.com

Tuesday at 04:33 PM
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Should we watch these vids over and over to get familiar with the words and grammar

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 08:08 PM
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Hi Francois,

Thanks for posting!

Well, this is a very hard question to answer, as this is a very individual issue. For some, it is easier to start with reading and writing while they learn the logic and the rules of the language, while for some, it is easier to learn from listening, a little bit like children learn languages...

From my experience, increasing your exposure to the language in different forms, while working on the main 4 skills (reading, writing, listening, talking) is the best way to gain a holistic understanding of a language.

I hope that helps :)

Enjoy learning Hebrew (in whichever way you choose 😉)!


Team HebrewPod101.com

Sunday at 07:36 PM
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Hi is just want to know is it at best to learn how to speak Hebrew befor writing and reading

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 07:00 PM
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Hi Anne L,

Thanks for posting and sharing this!

Yes, pronouncing Reish is challenging to many Hebrew learners... a great way to practice is in front of a mirror, while listening closely to the "correct" pronunciation by a native speaker, in case you want to try :)

Please feel free to share your questions with us in case you have any - we are always happy to help 👍

Enjoy learning Hebrew!



Team HebrewPod101.com

Anne L
Sunday at 06:48 AM
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Reish has been my most difficult sound to produce out of all of them.

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Monday at 09:17 PM
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Hi Randy Lykins,

Thanks for posting your question.

There's nothing that you're doing wrong - there are simply both audio and video lessons on our series, this is meant to train listening skills and reading & listening skills. Some classes have more practical work to do and quizzes, while some supply more theoretical background on grammar and vocabulary.

I'd recommend you to keep going with the series, as it is structured in a way that's meant to bring you to the next level.

Please let us know in case you have any other questions - we're here to assist 👍



Team HebrewPod101.com

Randy Lykins
Friday at 02:59 AM
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I guess I am not doing this program correctly. I am not seeing anything except the audio lesson with no means to work to understand. I have an instructor that writes in Hebrew and wants me to answer in Hebrew and I joined the premium program as an " Absolute Beginner" i need a clear learning pathway to learn this language. any help would be great. If not I will need to find another avenue to learn.


HebrewPod101.com Verified
Monday at 09:25 PM
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Hi Christian,

Great to know that you're enjoying our website!

Please stay tuned! Every week we'll have new lessons for you!



Team HebrewPod101.com

Monday at 12:25 AM
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