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The Routledge Introductory Course in Modern Hebrew

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The Routledge Introductory Course in Modern Hebrew

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The Routledge Introductory Course in Modern Hebrew: Hebrew in Israel
By Giore Etzion
Illustrations by Dick Beutick
Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group, New York & London (2009)
ISBN: 978-0-415-48417-6

Reviewed by Boris Segel - August 21, 2017

The Routledge Introductory Course in Modern Hebrew: Hebrew in Israel is a beginning level textbook in modern Hebrew that is designed for use in a classroom setting. The book was written by Giore Etzion, a native Hebrew speaker, scholar, and educator who has taught classes in Hebrew at a number of universities including Washington University in Saint Louis, University of Michigan, and Hebrew University.

The textbook offers a well-rounded and comprehensive introduction to modern Hebrew. It is geared toward university-level students learning Hebrew from English. The text can be covered in either a fast paced two-semester course structure, or more leisurely over a four-semester block. While designed for classroom-based instruction, this textbook is also suited for use by motivated self-learners.

This textbook contains 90 lessons, and it presents an integrated approach to the study of modern Hebrew, offering students the opportunity to practice their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. This is done in part via the book's companion website, located at (More about the companion website later...)

The information in the textbook is delivered in a clear and logical manner that starts with the very basics (i.e., the alphabet) and by the end, diligent students will find that they can read and write basic Hebrew, and as important, carry on functional conversations with native speakers! The Routledge Introductory Course in Modern Hebrew uses an eclectic mix of reading materials that range from standard language-learning dialogues to newspaper articles. This diverse selection of reading materials helps to keep the text engaging and it exposes the students to a variety of Hebrew writing styles and vocabulary, including some slang terms. These reading sections are combined with vocabulary lists, a range of exercises, grammar instruction, and cultural notes that give students a glimpse into the ins and outs of Israeli society. Space is provided in the textbook so that you can write out the answers to the exercises in the book itself, making it serve as both a textbook and workbook.

While the textbook is the main component of this course, an equally important component is the book's companion website. On the website you will find audio recordings of all the reading materials and vocabulary lists found in the textbook's eight units. This website also includes listening and comprehension exercises, review exercises (with answers), links to songs and videos in Hebrew, checklists of the material you should be familiar with by the end of each unit, and much more. You'll also find a list of resources in Hebrew that will aid in your study of the language. One of my favorites is the archive of the Shaar la-Matchil newspaper, which were written in 'easy' Hebrew with vowels. The archive includes not only hundreds of issues of the paper, but also audio recordings of select articles. On the course website you will also find a list of all the "Directions for the exercises" translated into English - another great aid for independent learners.

In addition, you will also find answers to all the exercises contained in the book. These answers are of particular value to students using this book as a self-study textbook. Although the text was designed for use in a classroom setting, I feel that it is also a valuable tool for independent learners. The only drawback to this book, for independent learners, is that the companion website does not include an audio component demonstrating how the Hebrew letters and vowels are pronounced. However, having this knowledge before starting the course is not strictly necessary as this information is covered in the introductory section of the book and the course provides ample speaking and aural exercises that will allow you to firm up your pronunciation as you work through the course.

If you feel that you need more up-front practice with your Hebrew pronunciation skills, check out Via this link you can download a disk image of the CD containing the supplemental course material that accompanies the Brandeis Modern Hebrew textbook. This is a legitimate link, provided by the book's publisher at The first section on the CD provides some practice listening to, and reading, various letter and vowel combinations. This section will give you a jump start on perfecting your pronunciation, before you start on the reading sections in The Routledge Introductory Course in Modern Hebrew. As an added bonus, you can also use the rest of the material on the CD to get more practice honing you reading and listening skills. Instructions on how to download the CD, and open it, are provided on the download page.

A Teacher's Guide is also available. Written entirely in Hebrew, this guide offers instructors a general overview of the methodology used in the textbook. It also offers advice, tips, and insights into how best to use this text. This advice covers both in class instruction (from classroom management to using the online component of the course), to working outside the classroom (i.e., homework assignments, etc...). The guide offers advice on organizing tests and quizzes, as well as tips on organizing class lectures, creating additional activities to compliment the course material, and encouraging students to practice their Hebrew skills outside of the classroom setting, and much, much more...

In short, I found The Routledge Introductory Course in Modern Hebrew: Hebrew in Israel to be an excellent introduction to the study of Modern Hebrew. While designed for use in university level classes, I also found it to be suitable for use by motivated self-learners. Most important, the format is logical, the explanations are coherent and understandable, and the readings are diverse enough to keep your interest throughout the course. As well, the vocabulary is varied, mixing both academic and colloquial terms, enabling you to carry on a conversation and to use your new Hebrew skills both in the classroom, in Israel, and with any other Hebrew speaker you might encounter. All in all, this is a terrific textbook that has a truly useful companion website. Best of all, Professor Etzion is working on a new edition of this textbook that is scheduled for releas in early 2019. I cannot wait to see what improvementsand changes Professor Etzion will make to this already outstanding textbook!

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