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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Hebrew Pronunciation Guide
In this series, you'll master Hebrew pronunciation. Proper pronunciation is essential in Hebrew, and in this series, you'll learn it in a fast, comprehensive, and easy way.
In this first lesson, you'll learn about the building blocks of the Hebrew pronunciation system that will help you in future lessons.
The Hebrew alphabet consists of 22 letters, all of which are consonants. A few of these consonants however, can act like vowels.
But be careful not to fall into a very common trap: as you're learning to *speak* correctly, you shouldn't concern yourself with all the letters. That's right -- forget them! You care about the *sounds* of Hebrew, and here they are:
There are 20 consonant sounds, and 5 vowel sounds. Each symbol that you see here, represents a single sound determined by the IPA, which is a standardized way to represent sounds *without* the baggage that often comes with traditional letters. By using all of these sounds, you can form every single word in Hebrew.
Still seem complicated? Well how about this: of the 20 consonant sounds in Hebrew, you *already know* 15 of the original sounds. That's right, if you're a native English speaker, then you already make these sounds every day.
You can also ignore all of the vowel sounds for the same reason.
The only thing standing between you and Perfect Hebrew Pronunciation is 4 new consonant sounds. You can handle that!
Now let me introduce Yaara, who will be helping you to master these new sounds.
"Hello, I'm Yaara" in Hebrew
Yaara will be giving you native pronunciation examples to imitate. But for this first lesson, just sit back and listen to the unique sounds of Hebrew:
Resh רע "bad"
Tzadik צבע "color"
Khaf אוכל "food"
Aleph מאמר "article"
In the next lesson, we'll look at the top 5 pronunciation mistakes Hebrew learners make. You'll want to make sure not to fall into these common traps.
After that, we'll begin going through the vowels and consonants of Hebrew. This is your chance to learn how to correctly say all of the words you just heard.
We'll finish up the series by covering some special topics that will really make your Hebrew sound natural!
To close this lesson, here's a question for you.
Why is it important to spend time on learning proper pronunciation, even if you're already an advanced speaker?
The answer...
You will be understood, and this will help you build more confidence as you communicate in Hebrew. As beginners, you're creating a strong foundation to build on. And for more advanced students, this is your chance to improve your accent and lose any bad habits you may have picked up.
What is the hardest part of Hebrew pronunciation? Tell us about it in the comments.
See you in the next Ultimate Hebrew Pronunciation Guide lesson!

73 Comments

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HebrewPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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Hi everyone! Welcome back to HebrewPod101.com!

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 02:10 AM
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Hi Sandra,


Thanks for posting - this is an excellent question!


The simple answer is - you very often don't! 😅😅


Reading Hebrew without vowels takes a measure of intuition and familiarity with a large enough vocabulary and context in order to allow one to "guess" correctly the pronunciation of a new, unfamiliar word. This might also be the reason why many Hebrew natives are mispronouncing words pretty often, sometimes so often that it is not clear anymore what should be regarded as "right" or "wrong"...

That said, Hebrew has grammatical structures that are called "binyanim" (בניינים). All verbs and most nouns fall into different binyanim which follow the same pronunciation patterns with different consonants.

So, for example, many diseases share the common pattern "A-E-ET" with different consonants between these vowels - a few examples are "חצבת" ('khatsevet', Measles), "סכרת" ('sakeret', diabetes) etc.


I believe you've already started developing this intuition but perfecting it takes time. The verb structures (binyanim) are taught here in HebrewPod101.com as well, in a more advanced stage 👍


I hope that helps :)


Yours,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Sandra
Friday at 06:41 AM
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Congratulations for your course, it is excellent. I have learned a lot.

My question is: how do I know that the consonant I'm using is read with the sound of a vowel a, e, i, o or u? since without nikud i don't know which vowel has a certain consonant.

Thanks.

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 06:18 PM
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Hi Kalieb Sanford,


Thanks for posting and sharing your experience with learning Hebrew!


Yes, I can understand the difficulty... but you're correct - practice works and everything is learnable! Please let us know may you need any help or if you have questions about the lessons - we're here to assist :)


Keep up the good work!

Yours,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Kalieb Sanford
Friday at 01:43 PM
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Shalom!

The hardest part about learning Hebrew to me is reading and writing at first coming from only knowing English my whole life. Also the pronunciations can become difficult to learn, but with LOTS of practice I will get the hang of it! lol


Shalom

Glory to the KING!

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 09:43 PM
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Hi Ruanne,


Thank you very much for posting your comment and for this important feedback.


In case you missed that, there is an option to play the lessons at 50% or 75% speed, by using the x1 button. It might be useful when you feel like things are going a little too fast...


Transliterations take time to get used to, but we try to be consistent with the different markings to assist pronunciation. If you have a question regarding one (or more) of them, please let us know - we'll be happy to explain 😄👍


Enjoy learning Hebrew!

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Ruanne
Saturday at 01:38 AM
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What is the hardest part of learning Hebrew? Often time the teachers speak too fast for beginners. Picking up the ending of syllables that are in the middle of words are the hardest. And the transliteration . . . there are markings that I don't understand. I am hoping these lessons on pronunciation will help.

HebrewPod101.com
Saturday at 09:40 PM
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Hi Abhishek,


Thanks for posting.


Interesting, you can produce kh and struggle with the resh... actually, these sounds are somewhat similar in Hebrew and both are pronounced in the throat (guttural). 'Resh" is a little higher up and produces by trembling the tongue, a little similar maybe to the Spanish R. You can try "playing" with these two sounds (kh and r) and try to reach R from the kh by changing the position of the tongue - it might work for you 😉


And as always - careful listening and plenty of exposure to native speakers are great for improving one's pronunciation.


I hope that helps 👍

Yours,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Abhishek
Wednesday at 09:37 PM
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I can pronounce 'kh' sound and 'ts' sound because I'm an Indian and native language is Kannada. In my native language we these pronunciations. But our 'r' sound is same as in English that's why its hard for me pronounce Hebrew 'r'.

So, can you give me some tips how to pronounce it.

HebrewPod101.com
Sunday at 10:43 PM
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Hi Oscar Baez,


Thanks for posting and for sharing!


This is a common problem, but I'm sure it'll get better with time and practice 👍😄


Let us know in case you have any question or if you need any tips for pronunciation exercises 😇


Yours,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Oscar Baez
Wednesday at 06:41 AM
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Shalom everyone

I also have problems with the guttural sounds of pronunciation but is understanding the basic with repeated practice.

Thank You, Oscar