The Jewish Eye
The Complete Course for Succeeding in Hebrew and Communicating with Confidence
By Eliezer Tirkel
Edited by J. A. Reif, Ph.D.
Passport Books, 1991
Reviewed by Simone Bonim - October 30, 2009
Are you a motivated independent learner looking to embark on the study of Modern Hebrew? If so, you will find that Eliezer Tirkel's book, Everyday Hebrew will provide you with a solid foundation upon which to base your study of this dynamic and engaging language. Pedagogically, Tirkel takes the stand that rote memorization of vocabulary is a waste of effort. If you understand the structure of a language, you will find it easy to decipher or look up in a dictionary, any words that you forget or with which you are unfamiliar. Therefore, in writing this textbook, Tirkel teaches you the foundations of Hebrew - such as word order, grammar, and all the necessary skills to understand how Hebrew, as a language, works and functions. Once you know how the language works, you will find that your Hebrew vocabulary will grow at an astounding rate.
In addition, Tirkel assumes that you have no prior knowledge of Hebrew, so he starts at the beginning, teaching the alphabet, its sounds, and how to write Hebrew in both print and script. In all, this book consists of 30 units that will introduce you to about 700 of the most frequently used words in Modern Hebrew. The units consist of short lessons, dialogs, and stimulating exercises that will give you ample practice in both reading and writing Hebrew. All instructions are provided in both Hebrew and English.
Short tests are provided, after every fifth unit, that will allow you to test your understanding of the material covered so far. Answers to the tests are to be found at the back of the book. Answers to the exercises are not provided. However if you have been diligent in your studies, you'll find that you can easily self correct your own exercises. As well, this book is primarily geared toward teaching you how to read and write Hebrew. While it does provide sufficient material to teach you how to pronounced modern Hebrew accurately, teaching you to speak Hebrew is not the main goal of the book. Nonetheless, a set of audio cassettes have been produced that accompany the text. I've not listened to them, so I cannot vouch for how helpful they might be. Hebrew is a relatively easy language to learn to speak, and you can easily correct your pronunciation by listening to Israeli radio over the Internet, or any of the other, numerous, sources that the Internet offers to allow you hear native Israelis speaking Hebrew.
Over all, I found Everyday Hebrew to be an excellent textbook for novices interested in learning colloquial Hebrew. The dialogs are as interesting as they can be with the restrictive vocabulary that you expect to find in a beginner's book, and the exercises where fun to complete. I therefore recommend this book to both motivated high school and adult self-learners who are desirous of studying Hebrew on their own.
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- Modern Hebrew - An Essential Grammar, By Lewis Glinert.
The third edition of this invaluable reference book provides a concise and up-to-date overview of Hebrew grammar, and a selection of practical exercises that allows you to test your knowledge of the topics covered.
- Colloquial Hebrew, by Zippi Lyttleton and Tamar Wang.
A Complete Course for Beginners emphasising modern conversational Hebrew.
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