Tag Archives: hebrew

Can I Learn Hebrew by Watching Movies

Learn Hebrew by watching movies, like ShrekThere are several ways you can use movies on DVD to improve your target language. There are three ways you can watch a movie in Hebrew, starting form the hardest to the easiest.

  1. Sound and subtitled in Hebrew
  2. Sound in Hebrew but subtitled in English
  3. Sound in English with Hebrew subtitles

1. Watching a movie with sound and subtitles in your target language
Movies are hard to follow if you don’t have any subtitles. Having sound and subtitles in the target language enables you to catch what you didn’t hear.  When you’re learning a language like Hebrew it’s especially important to be able to see how words are spelled.  A word like עכשיו can be easily misspelled if you’re going by sound alone.

2. Watching a movie with sound in your target language but subtitles in English
Most people prefer watching a movie in the language it was shot in.  Even the best movies are often awkwardly dubbed.   This is a great mid-level exercise that can allow someone who still isn’t 100% confident in all of Hebrew’s structures to immerse themselves in the language.  The advantage of having subtitles in English is that you can read English much faster than Hebrew but you still benefit from hearing spoken Hebrew.  Remember, for most people the ability to speak/hear are the most crucial abilities, not necessarily reading.

3. Watching a movie in English with subtitles in Hebrew.

Most people wouldn’t think of this as a valuable exercise, but it can be very powerful.  This option only exists for DVDs bought in Israel that are dubbed in English but still have Hebrew subtitles.  The advantage of this method is it’s ease.  You can still enjoy the easy to listen to English audio while scanning the subtitles.  You can walk away from an 1 1/2 long movie with tons of new real-world phrases and not feel exhausted from studying.

DVDs are a great language learning tool that shouldn’t be ignored if you are watching movies anyway.  We these through choices you can choose a language exercise that’s appropriate for language level and desired intensity.


Counting in Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic

Roman NumbersThe following chart compares how to count from 1-10 in Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic.  I included transliterations of all three languages so everyone can compare the similarities and dissimilarities between the languages.  In all three languages, cardinal and ordinal numbers must agree in gender (masculine or feminine; mixed groups are treated as masculine) with the noun(s) they are describing.  All of the forms here are cardinal (numbers that express amount; one, two, three of something) as opposed to ordinal numbers (which indicate position in a series or order; first, second, third).  Interestingly, Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic numbers all exhibit ‘polarity,’ that is, masculine numbers are used for feminine nouns and feminine numbers are used for masculine nouns.

In Modern Hebrew, if a noun isn’t being referred, the feminine form is used.  In Modern Hebrew many speakers commonly use the feminine form as the default, even in instances in which it would be grammatically wrong to do so.

You may be wondering where the Arabic feminine numbers have gone, all of the Arabic numbers can be made feminine by adding “ة” at the end.

<scroll down to view the chart>





Number Pron. AramaicMale Pron. AramaicFeminine Pron. ArabicMale Pron. HebrewFemale Pron. HebrewMale
0 Sifr صفر achat achat efes אֶפֶס
1 chad חַד chada הֲדָא waa7id واحد אַחַת echad אֶחַד
2 treyn תְּרֵין tarteyn תַּרְתֵּין ithnaan اثنان shtayim שְׁתַּיִם shnayim שְׁנַיִם
3 tlata תְּלָתָא telat תְּלָת thalaatha ثلاثة shalosh שָׁלוֹשׁ shlosha שְׁלוֹשָׁה
4 arba אַרְבְּעָה arba אַרְבַּע arba3a أربعة arbah אַרְבַּע arba’a אַרְבָּעָה
5 chamsha חַמְשָׁא chameysh חֲמֵישׁ khamsa خمسة chameysh חָמֵשׁ chamisha חֲמִשָׁה
6 shita שִׁיתָּא shet שֵית sitta ستة sheysh שֵׁשׁ shisha שִׁשָּׁה
7 shiva שִׁבְעָה shva שְבַע sab3a سبعة sheva שֶׁבַע shiv’a שִׁבְעַה
8 tmanya תְּמָנְיָא tamney תַּמְנֵי thamaaneya ثمانية shmoneh שְׁמוֹנֶה shmonah שְׁמוֹנָה
9 tisha תִּשְׁעָה teysha תֵּשַׁע tis3a تسعة teysha תֵּשַׁע tish’a תִּשְׁעָה
10 asra עַסְרָא? asar עַסַר 3ashara عشرة eser עֶשֶׂר assara עֲשָׂרָה

NEW: Did you know we have an Aramaic discussion forum?



Review of Colloquial Hebrew

“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.

Other highlights:

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.

[amazon_link id=”041543159X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Colloquial Hebrew (Colloquial Series)[/amazon_link]

Koreans Learning Hebrew and Studying the Bible

I recently wrote an article about a Korean TV crew’s visit to Ponevezch Yeshiva.  I’ve researched a little more and found some other interesting articles.  Haaretz, a leading Israeli newspaper, published an article in November 2008 called, “Korean’s Dominate in Bible Studies in Hebrew U.”  Hebrew University awarded 328 doctoral degree in 2008, of which only six where in Biblical studies.  Among the six, two were Israeli, one American, and three were Korean.

Young Sik Cho wrote a doctorate about “concepts of wealth in the Book of Proverbs.” Yun Ho Chong examined the “factors which created a negative stance toward the Golden Calf cult in the Bible.” Song-Yun Shin investigated the “language of Hagai-Zecharia-Malachi and its place in the history of the Hebrew Bible.”  Additionly, Song Dal Quan completed a doctorate in the Hebrew Language Department which pertained to “use of ‘haya (to be)’ syntax in biblical language.”   A 2010 Y-net article, “The Korean girl in Bible class“, mentioned one Korean girl who is fluent in Hebrew.  One student advisor in Hebrew University remarked about the increasing number of Korean and Japanese students and the diligence to Bible, Judaic Studies, and the Hebrew language.

Most of the students are motivated by a strong Protestant or Catholic faith and wish to explore the roots of their religion.  After the completion of their degrees many hope to return to home, to Korean or Japan, and teach Hebrew or Bible. 7MRPZM5TCGH9

Korean TV Crew Visits Ponevezh Yeshiava

A TV crew from South Korean paid a visit to Ponevezh (Ponovitch) Yeshiva in Bnei Brak in order to film and learn about the study of Talmud. The yeshiva has well over one thousand Talmidim, and is one of the leading Lithuanian-style yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel today  The film crew interviewed students and Rabbis in the Yeshiva about their experiences learning Gemara and other Jewish texts.
“The reason why we came was to see the real Talmud. Jewish people are known for [a high percentage of] Nobel prizes. The Korean people are curious about how Jewish people started and why Jewish people are so smart,” the Korean journalist told Channel 10 TV. The TV crew also interviewed the yeshiva’s Rabbi Meir Volk.
I’ve also noticed a high level of traffic from google.co.kr, South Korea’s version of Google.  It seems that thereis a large number of Koreans searching for terms such as Hebrew grammar, Hebrew vocabulary, and Hebrew lessons etc.  Koreans realize that in order to learn Chumash, Talmud, and other texts they need to understand the language.  I’m sure there isn’t a large amount of books written to help people who speak Korean learn Hebrew, let alone material specifically written in Korean.  I’m interested in seeing if we could start a joint project to help more Koreans learn Hebrew.
Here’s the youtube video of the December 2011 visit:

Korean TV Crew Visits Ponevezh Yeshiva<

Learning Hebrew Online – Online Hebrew Course

1. Online courses are convenient.

The biggest advantage of a learning online is that your classroom and instructor are available 24 hours, a day, seven days a week.  Because their are no whether delays the only excuse for missing a class is not logging online or maybe internet connection problems.  You can access notes, review previous assignments, take practice quizzes, real quizzes, discuss readings and assignments, and communication with fellow students and a time that is convenient for you.  You can make your own schedule for completing the requirements of the course.

2. Online courses offer flexibility.

You can study whenever you want and however you want.  You can study in pajamas or in a business suit after a day of work.  Online courses offer the flexibility to spend time at work, with family, friends, a significant other, or doing a hobby that you love.  People with changing work schedules, people who have business trips, parents, or students with health issues can benefit from online course delivery.

3. Online courses bring education right to your home.

Online students often find their friends and family involved in the course.  Parents can be an example to their children by demonstrating that education, especially religious education is important to them.  Taking the time out of the day to learn Hebrew online shows that you value Hebrew and what it offers you educationally and spiritually.

4. Online courses offer more individual attention.

Because students are directly in contact with the instructor via e-mail or online chat you can get your questions answered directly.  Many students aren’t comfortable asking questions in class because they don’t want to feel stupid.  Learning Hebrew online can help eliminate this fear.  Many times you think of a questions after class or while you are studying.  Most students forget their questions by the time they ever reach the classroom.  Instead of forgetting it you can instantly e-mail the instructor.  You also don’t have to compete for valuable instructor face time.

5. Online Hebrew courses are available everywhere

Hebrew isn’t a language that is has a vast amount of resources to help you learn it, like Spanish, French, or German.  It’s a language that has a much smaller amount of speakers.  Courses to learn Hebrew aren’t available and neither or speakers of Hebrew to help you practice speaking Hebrew.  An online course to learn Hebrew can supply you with an equivalent, or better, learning experience that might only be available after traveling a significant distance.

6. Online courses can save you money

Some people are pushed away from learning online because of the sometime high costs involved.  In reality however, the money spent driving, paying for gas, and the time it takes to commute to a private Hebrew tutor or class is often much more than online learning options.

7. Online courses promote life-long learning.

Most people leave academic learning after they graduate from high school, college, or university.  Learning Hebrew Online allows you continue your education throughout you life.

8. Online courses have financial benefits.

There are many ancillary costs to attending a college.  Parking costs, eating our versus eating at home, child-care, missing work or overtime opportunities.  The flexibility of learning at home has many financial benefits.

9. Online courses teach you to be self-disciplined.

Perhaps the greatest enemy of online courses is procrastination.  Most of us, put off things until the very last moment.  In education, pushing things off to the last minute is the worst way to learn.  Learning online doesn’t just teach students the course subject, it also teaches students responsibility.  Students learn the importance of, and how to, get things done on time or ahead of time.  Students also become self-motivated in learning which increases not only satisfaction from the course but an increased likelihood that they’ll continue learning in the future.

10.  Learning Hebrew Online offers the chance to practice speaking

One of the most essential skills of learning a foreign language is the ability to speak.  Depending on where you live there might not be any Hebrew speakers available.  Even if there are they might be interested in helping you practice or not know how to help you.  People often feel embarrassed when they are trying to speak a foreign language. Learning online can help a student feel more comfortable speaking because of the anonymity that the internet provides.

-I’ve carefully selected some of the best, most experienced Hebrew teachers to make them available online.  If you’re interested in more information about learning with one of our teachers please fill out our contact form to arrange online Hebrew lessons.