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The New Reading Hebrew

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The New Reading Hebrew

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The New Reading Hebrew
A Guided Instruction Course
By Dr. C. Castberg and Lillian W. Adler
Behrman House Publishers, 2004
ISBN: 0-87441-728-7

Reviewed by Simon Bonim - January 18, 2010

The New Reading Hebrew: A Guided Instruction Course is an innovative workbook/textbook that will quickly and nearly effortless teach you not only the Hebrew alphabet, but also how to pronounce its various letters and vowels, how to print the various letters, and most importantly, how to read them. The material in this book is divided into a series of frames (short sections of text). There are four frames per page, each with its own unique background color. The way the book works is that you open the book and begin working on frame one of lesson one. A short lesson (usually no more than one or two sentences) is provided followed a question you need to answer. Turn the page over and you will find the correct answer to the question and the next frame in lesson one. When you complete lesson one, you return to the first page of the book, drop down to the next color-coded frame, and continue with lesson two, etc... Halfway through the book, you turn the book over, and work through the lessons from the other direction. This may sound a bit confusing, but you will find it very easy to follow the path of each lesson, and instructions are provided telling you when to go back to a certain page, or when to turn the book over, in order to find the next lesson. This topsy-turvy way of going through the book is necessary so that you don't accidently see an answer to a question without first having to turn over a page. In all, this book contains sixteen lessons, with 30 frames within in each lesson.

Written by Dr. C. Castberg and Lillian W. Adler, The New Reading Hebrew has been teaching students how to read Hebrew for decades. It has withstood the test of time because it is such an efficient learning device, and its even fun to work through! By the time you finish this book, which can be done in just a few hours, you will have learned all the letters and sounds of the Hebrew alphabet, as well as the vowels and where they are placed. The text also provides ample practice on how to identify similar looking or sounding letters and vowels. One of the best features of this book is that you do not need a teacher to follow along with the text. It is very self-explanatory, easy to follow, and the explanations are so concise and clear that even grade school children will have no problem using this book. Adult students may find some of the wording a bit juvenile, such as "the Hebrew letter Bet as the saying sound of B." Don't let that such wording put you off this outstanding book. If you follow the text, by the end you will have a firm grasp of the Hebrew alphabet and be able to read and pronounce all its letters and vowels, and to write Hebrew in print. (Learning Hebrew script is not covered in this text.) As well, you will also get to practice your new skills by reading a few short words.

I highly recommend this workbook to anyone just beginning their study of the Hebrew language. It is a must for independent learners and a fantastic learning aid for use in a classroom setting.

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