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Talk Now! - Learn Yiddish
Talk Now! Learn Yiddish
From EuroTalk Interactive
Beginner's Level - Essential Words and Phrases for Absolute Beginners
A program on CD-ROM for Windows, Mac and Universal
Reviewed by Boris Segal - April 4, 2011
EuroTalk is a company that produces, among other things, a series of best selling language-learning software programs covering just about everything from hard to find programs covering languages such as Navajo, Welsh, Tibetan, and Icelandic, to more 'popular' languages such as Spanish, English (American & British), Russian, and French. In all they have programs covering more than 100 languages - including Yiddish and Hebrew.
Currently, they only have a beginner's Yiddish program. Hopefully they will produce more advance Yiddish courses in the future, but in the meantime, their Learn Yiddish - Talk Now! beginner's program is an ideal place to start learning or brushing up on your Yiddish speaking skills. This innovative program uses the EuroTalk method of language instruction which includes a lot of fun repetition via the use of memory styled games that will please both young and old. You get to hear all the words spoken in both a male and a female voice. It gives you the opportunity to record your own voice so that you can compare it to the speakers in the program (a microphone is not included with the disc). The software makes note of what words or phrases you are having difficulty with, and they will appear more often throughout the program. You can print out a picture dictionary of all the words in the program, and the program is iPod ready. One of the neat features of this program is that you can select from a wide variety of languages from which the 'help' information and program directions are given - which is a learning opportunity in its own right.
Each section includes both a word practice and a speaking practice section along with both an easy and a hard game that will help reinforce the words you have learned in the section. The program allows you to keep 'student records' for multiple users, and it keeps a record of 'your' score on all the quizzes.
Now, for the specifics of the Learn Yiddish program... The material in this program is divided into nine main sections covering:
I'm not sure of the exact number of words or phrases that are taught in this program, but it provides a solid foundation upon which to build your Yiddish vocabulary, and offers enough of a variety of words that it is equivalent to what you might learn in a basic tourist type language course. My Yiddish skills are not proficient enough to pinpoint the dialect used on this program, other than to say that it doesn't sound anywhere close to the dialect used in my region. However, my hope is that once I learn the words in this program, that I can then go out into the public and tweak my pronunciation to match that used in my area. I've already found that once I try speaking Yiddish, seasoned Yiddish speakers are more than willing to step in and correct my pronunciation, to give me pointers on points of grammar, introduce me to slang terms, as well as current forms of usage.
- First Words - such as Yes, No, Good Morning, Please, Thank You, Left, and Right.
- Parts of the Body
- Common Phrases that are useful in general conversations or while traveling such as "Please speak more slowly." and "Where is the drug store?"
- and lastly a section where you learn the names of various countries around the world - along with their flags.
This is not a program that will teach you to read and write Yiddish, although all words are show in Yiddish print (which actually uses the Hebrew alphabet), in transliterated Yiddish, and in the language of instruction you've chosen, such as English, French, Russian, etc... What this program does is focus primarily on developing your speaking and listening skills - and it does a rather nice job of it! I thought that it would take me hours and hours of study just to get through this beginners course. Yet I found that via the games and quizzes that I rapidly absorbed the material being taught and in a remarkably short period I found that not only had I memorized all the words that I've studied so far, but that I was able to mimic the voices of the native speakers rather closely. The only drawback to this program is that it does not give you an overview of what, exactly Yiddish is, nor how the various letters in the alphabet are pronounced. If you are interested in this information, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research has some nice information about the Yiddish alphabet and the sounds of the letters, as well as a link (in the upper left hand corner) which will take you to a page that gives a brief explanation of what Yiddish is.
Learn Yiddish is a fun and profitable means of getting your first taste of Yiddish, and it is suitable for learners of all ages. Best of all, once you get started here, I'm sure it will not be long before you are seeking out more advanced learning materials so that you can build upon the vocabulary that you learned in the EuroTalk interactive Learn Yiddish program.
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- Say It In Yiddish, edited by Uriel Weinreich and Beatrice Weinreich.
A handy guide filled with more than 1,000 Yiddish phrases and useful words that will enable you to 'get by' in almost any travel type situation and which will also give you a practical introduction to standard Yiddish.
- Yiddish: An Introduction to the Language, Literature & Culture, Volumes 1 and 2, by Sheva Zucker.
A complete introductory course in Modern Yiddish that is equivalent to a 3-4 semester university level sequence in Yiddish. The course consists of two textbooks, two companion sets of audio recordings that are keyed to the text, as well as answer keys for the exercises in both textbooks. This series is ideal for use in both formal classroom settings and for use by independent students.
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