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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Hebrew Pronunciation Guide.
In this lesson, you'll learn the top 5 Hebrew pronunciation mistakes to avoid.
These are common mistakes that students of Hebrew tend to make.
So pay close attention and make sure that you don't make these same mistakes too.
Are you ready?
Then let's get started!
Number 1: Consonants separated by a shva vowel
You will recognize the shva vowel by the two vertical dots underneath the consonant.
In Hebrew, many words contain a shva vowel. There are three different kinds of shva vowels.
The first kind is a short E-like sound,
לְ (le sound)
the second is a full stop on the consonant it's underneath,
"לְהִתְלַבֵּשׁ "to get dressed"
(lehit-labesh)
and the third is a move to the next consonant without a vowel.
"פְּתוּחָה "open"
(p'tuħa)
When the shva vowel is a shva na vowel, this means you should move to the next consonant without a vowel sound. The resulting combination of consonants often feels unnatural to learners of Hebrew.
"כְּבִיסָה "laundry"
(k'visa)
Instead of properly combining these letters, new speakers often put a short vowel between the two.
In order to correct this problem, Hebrew students should practice these special letter combinations.
Listen to the examples:
"גדולה - "big"
(g'dola)
קטנה - "small"
(k'tana)
זמן - "time"
(z'man)
Number two - the Hebrew letter Resh
This is a problematic letter for learners of Hebrew, particularly for English speakers, because this R sound does not exist in English.
The Hebrew R sound is similar to the German or French R.
Unlike the English R, which is pronounced with the tip of tongue at the front of the mouth, the Hebrew R is pronounced using the back of the tongue with a slight roll.
You can think of it like gargling air at the back of your throat.
Listen to the following examples.
"קר - "cold"
(kar)
ראשון - "first"
(rishon)
חורים - "parents"
(horim)
We'll teach you how to pronounce this sound, in lesson 6.
Number 3: Misplacing stress
A common mistake for new speakers of Hebrew, is the misplacement of stress.
In the beginning, most foreign speakers model their stress patterns after their native language.
Correcting this is very easy because most Hebrew words are stressed on the last syllable.
Pay attention to the stress pattern in the following Hebrew words.
"בגדים - ""clothes""
(begadim)
ילדה - "girl"
(yal'da)
ללמוד -"to study/learn"
(lil'mod)"
When words aren't stressed on the last syllable, they are part of a very specific group of words, all containing a similar stress pattern:
"מדברת - "speaks" (feminine singular)
(medaberet)
ספר - "book"
(sefer)
תפוח - "apple"
(tapu'aħ)
We'll teach you how to speak Hebrew with the correct stress in lesson 8.
Number 4 - Foreign words in Hebrew
When you see a word you recogonize from your own language in Hebrew, your first instinct is to pronounce it like it is in your own language.
However, many foreign words in Hebrew have been modified to have different stress patterns. They may even use different sounds altogether.
Pay attention to how native speakers pronounce these words and you will learn them quickly.
Listen to (host name).
"אוניברסיטה - ""university""
(universita)
טלוויזיה - "television"
(televiziya)
סנדוויץ - "sandwich"
(sandvitch)
Number 5: The letter ħet
While this letter is usually difficult for foreign speakers to pronounce correctly in the beginning, it is also one that many people perfect with a good amount of practice.
This is a 'guttural' H pronounced at the back of the throat.
It has a bad reputation because it sounds as though you're bringing up phlegm from your throat.
It's possible that non-native speakers are afraid to make this sound and this is why it has become known as a difficult Hebrew letter to pronounce.
There's no need to be afraid of this letter, because this sound is part of what gives Hebrew it's uniqueness.
Listen and repeat alongside (host name).
"חדר - ""room""
(ħeder)
חברה - "girlfriend"
(ħavera)
בחר - "chose"
(baħar)
נוח - "comfortable"
(no'aħ)"
Practice often, and you'll be sure to master this elusive sound in no time!
Now you know the top 5 Hebrew pronunciation mistakes to avoid.
Try to be careful so that you don't commit these same mistakes.
In the next lesson, we'll starting learning vowel sounds in Hebrew.
What's your biggest challenge with Hebrew pronunciation? Is it one of these top 5 mistakes?
Let us know in the comments.
Stick with us and you'll overcome it quickly!
See you in the next Ultimate Hebrew Pronunciation Guide lesson!

76 Comments

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HebrewPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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What's your biggest challenge with Hebrew pronunciation? Is it one of these top 5 mistakes?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 12:54 AM
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Hi Nick,


Thanks for posting and sharing this!


It seems like you worked very systematically on your Spanish and I'm sure it yielded some great results 😄 This is great advice for everyone that wishes to improve their language skills fast 👍


Enjoy learning Hebrew with us and please feel free to post your questions in case you have any 😉


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Nick
Thursday at 07:20 PM
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I Can’t speak for everyone else but this is my challenge...English is my native language and I actually had to learn Spanish to work in my career as a US Customs Officer. I came up with a learning method to help learn the most common verbs used, then learned how to conjugate those verbs. Then I learned nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and numbers. I also made a separate list of words in Spanish that sound similar to the words in English, these were called cognitives. Learning this way made it pretty easy for me and I’m trying to use the same learning method to learn Hebrew. So far it’s working out, but I need to see the words with the niqqud to make my method work.

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Monday at 09:05 PM
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Hi Michael R. Masters and Rebekka,


Thanks for posting and for sharing your questions!


@Michael - thanks for the well educated summary of the issue. Shva na and Shva nakh are indeed most frequent in Hebrew, but there is a third one - shva "merakhef" (literally: 'hoveringshva'). This third form appears in specific cases where two shvas are following one another, as in many imperative forms of binyan kal, as in the word "kitvi" (כִּתְבִי)


Here in this lesson, we don't deal with the grammatical categorization and naming yet, but we tried to lighten some of the most common situations where shvas generally occur and their correct pronunciation... This topic is explained in more detail in other lessons.


@Rebekka - This is a tricky subject that takes experience and familiarity with Hebrew vocabulary... Generally, I would avoid determining that several things in a language are "Always" so and so, as there are always exceptions... The best we can do is to find the general rule and follow it while learning the exceptions gradually as they come...😅

Shva can appear under any letter and its pronunciation varies as a result of the grammatical structure (binyan), the following letter and other factors. Generally, though, when you read a letter with a shva underneath, you can assume a "non vowel' or a very short "E" vowel, as in the case of a shva under a lamed at the beginning of a word.


I hope that helps. This is not an intuitive subject and it takes some practice to fully understand and use... Please let us know if you have any further questions, we'll do our best to assist :)


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Rebekka
Tuesday at 06:36 PM
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Hello, I enjoy learning with your videos,

but there are not enough explanations.

How can I know which of the three shva vowels it is when reading a new word that I don't know?

Is the first shva vowel ONLY under the letter Lamed? Is it ALWAYS the first shva vowel when it appears under the letter lamed?

When the shva vowel is in the middle of a word, is it always the second shva vowel or can it be the first one as well?

Why is the word for big in the video g'dola and in the vokabulary gadol? The same applies some other words.

???

Michael R. Masters
Monday at 02:08 AM
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In every textbook on Hebrew Grammar I've ever read, mention is made of only 2 Shva's: vocalic and silent. It seems to me that the origin of this shva 3 is with the well-known rule in Massoretic Hebrew where the 'a' or 'e' vowel in the initial syllable is reduced to a vocalic shva (shva na) when suffixial endings are appended to the word root and the initial vowel is removed two syllable from the stress. However, it appears that, in modern Hebrew vocalization, this resultant vocalic shva has been transformed into a silent, non-shva, or just another form of shva nach, without any apparent grammatical rules to support it.

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Friday at 07:49 AM
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Hi Birdie and Flora K.,


Thanks for posting and sharing your experiences!


Pronunciation gets easier with time... A good way to practice this is trying to listen carefully to a recording of a native speaker and try imitating the sound in front of a camera... feel free to try it out ! 😁😁😄👍


Enjoy learning Hebrew!


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Birdie
Friday at 02:15 AM
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I'm finding it more difficult to pronounce the throat sound when it is in the middle. "Todah" for making this program so interesting and thorough! 👍👍


Birdie

Flora K.
Wednesday at 01:53 PM
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Definitely the biggest challenge for me is the "resh" sound, because it's so guttural and deep in your throat. I also have a hard time understanding the intonation of certain words when speaking, and when listening, it's super fast so I get so confused!

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 08:48 PM
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Hi Isabel P.,


Thanks for posting and sharing this!


Yes, many Hebrew learners are struggling with the pronunciation of Reish... but please don't worry! first of all, this can be trained by listening carefully and practicing pronunciation (best in front of a mirror). Second - as long as you can communicate and other people understand you - who said that accents are so bad?! 😉😄


Keep up the good work, and feel free to let us know in case you have any questions 👍


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Isabel P.
Friday at 01:09 AM
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Our biggest challenge in learning Hebrew is the “reish” sound.🙁