“Colloquial Hebrew” is one of my favorite introductory Hebrew books that teaches Modern Hebrew you’ll actually encounter in Israel; not the hodge-podge Biblical and out-dated Modern Hebrew normally found in introductory books. It starts by introducing Hebrew script, both standard block and cursive and progresses from the basics to a fairly advanced level. The book comes with two 60 minute CDs that teach proper pronunciation and the dialogues. The book starts with vowels and slowly moves towards voweless words as the book progresses, the book also contains transliterations. In my opinion, if a person is starting with this book and doesn’t know the Hebrew alphabet, the book shouldn’t stop using vowels.
Hebrew is a language built on verb roots and patterns. If you can successfully master roots and their conjugations (tense, gender, number, noun formation) you have mastered Hebrew (at least the grammar!). Introducing students to this system is one of the most challenging parts of Hebrew. “Colloquial Hebrew” does a masterful job of slowly and intelligently introducing verb forms. It’s truly unmatched.
1) Contains a quick grammar reference- no more flipping around a book for a grammar rule
2) Audio is clear and professionally produced, although at times rapid. This can be an advantageous if you want to accustom yourself to understanding the way Hebrew is spoken in the street, fast.
3) Contains a verb table of the different forms used in the book. No Hebrew verb table is every friendly to a beginner.
4) Solid Hebrew-English dictionary in the back of the book. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an English-Hebrew dictionary.
5) Dialogues in language learning books have never been fascinating. The dialogues in this book are at least entertaining. For a beginner’s book, the dialogues are very authentic; this is really the way people speak. I know it’s called “Colloquial Hebrew,” so I shouldn’t be surprised that it contains colloquial speech but I’m impressed that they pulled it off.
6) There’s an answer key. It’s surprising the number of language books that don’t offer answer to exercises. However, there are a large number of errors in the key and throughout the book for that matter.
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