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Colloquial Hebrew

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Colloquial Hebrew

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Colloquial Hebrew
A Complete Course for Beginners

By Zippi Lyttleton and Tamar Wang
Routledge, London & New York (2004)
ISBN for complete course: 0-415-24050-6
(Complete course = one book, two cassettes, and two CDs.)
Individual ISBN's:
Book - ISBN: 0-415-24048-4
Cassettes - ISBN: 0-415-24049-2
CDs - ISBN: 0-415-30260-9

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - February 11, 2004

Studying Hebrew on your own can be a daunting task. One of the first hurdles that you face is finding a textbook or course that meets your needs. The vast majority of Hebrew language textbooks were written for use in a classroom setting and, as such, they assume that you will have a teacher on hand to correct your errors and fill in any information not provided in the text itself. With the publication of Colloquial Hebrew: A Complete Course for Beginners, by Zippi Lyttleton and Tamar Wang, learning Hebrew on your own has just gotten a little less daunting.

The purpose of this course is to teach you to read, write, and speak Modern Hebrew. It is particularly well suited for use by independent learners, and it can be adapted for use in a classroom setting. The 'course' consists of a textbook and an accompanying 120 minute audio recording (available on cassette or CD) of native Hebrew speakers reading sections of the text. The audio recording also includes a variety of exercises, including role-playing exercises, that helps reinforce the material found in the textbook. The 'course' starts with the core basics - the Hebrew alphabet, how to read and write Hebrew. You then quickly begin to build up a comprehensive working vocabulary. The primary emphasis of this course is on teaching modern conversational Hebrew. However, adequate practice in reading and writing is also included.

As new words are introduced, they are listed in Hebrew along with an English translation, as well as in Hebrew transliteration. The transliterations serve as an aid to learning how to correctly pronounce the words being introduced. The text includes a variety of exercises and dialogues that will help reinforce what you have already learned. In addition, the main dialogues can be heard on the audio recording that accompanies the text. The audio recording is read by native Israeli speakers, and by listening to the tape you not only get to hear the dialog read aloud, but also to practice your listening and speaking skills. The text is also resplendent with a medley of fun illustrations and informative cultural notes.

Many students find, that after spending years studying a language in a high school or university setting, that they come away from the experience with a firm grasp of 'proper' grammatical speech. However, they are unfamiliar with the way the people speak in their everyday life. They don't know the slang, they cannot understand the clipped speech used in advertising, or how to understand a native speaker due to the rapid speed at which a native usually speaks. Colloquial Hebrew: A Complete Course for Beginners tackles all these issues, ensuring that you come away from the course speaking like a 'native' rather than like a grammarian. While the authors adroitly teach the essential fundamentals of Hebrew grammar, the dialogues are written as 'real' people speak. In addition, 'real life' examples of printed Hebrew are found in the text, this includes pictures of advertisements, common grocery items, bus tickets, and other everyday items that a person is likely to encounter in Israel.

Colloquial Hebrew: A Complete Course for Beginners is a fabulous edition to the realm of Hebrew Language pedagogy and self-study guides. It will be a boon to those engaged in the self-study of Hebrew as well as teachers wishing to introduce colloquial Hebrew to a traditional Hebrew language course. It is suited for students at both the high school and college level, and it is equivalent to a traditional first year Hebrew course, providing the student with a working vocabulary of more than 800 words. The text also includes a Quick Grammar Reference, Prepositions Chart, and Verb Glossary that will serve students not only in the completion of this course, but also as their study of Hebrew advances.

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