The Jewish Eye
Hebrew: A Language Course
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - December 4, 2003
Hebrew: A Language Course is a three-part, comprehensive modern Hebrew language course designed specifically for use by English-speaking adults studying only a few hours, or less, a week. The course is designed to be used in a classroom setting, but can be used by as a self-study manual for those interested in learning to read and write Hebrew. Independent students will find that this series is not suited for learning to speak Hebrew as it does not include an audio component.
There are three volumes in this course, all edited by Ora Band. The first book, level one, assumes some basic understanding of the Hebrew alphabet and a vocabulary of about 150 culturally centered words. For those who have not yet mastered these basics, there is a primer (Ivrit Alfon
Hebrew: A Language Course - Primer) available that will bring you up to the necessary level to commence the level one book in just a couple of weeks.
All three books in this series feature a plethora of short stories / reading passages that have you reading Hebrew from the very first page. The stories and passages are engaging and fun to read. The reading selections run the gamut from humorous to historical passages, all of which will hold your interest. Each passage is accompanied by a variety of exercises that help to reinforce the information that you have already learned. The exercises are varied and they are excellent tools in which to internalize the information presented. The exercises run the gamut form fill in the blank to writing questions, to fun games such as cross word puzzles and circle the word games. Additionally, the texts are illustrated throughout with humorous sketches, pictures of scenes from Israel, and pictures of Jewish artifacts.
The text starts out vowelize, but as you progress through the series you will find that the vowels begin to 'disappear'. This method allows you to effortless learn to read unvowelized Hebrew.
These texts do not include 'strict' grammar lessons, such as which are found in traditional language texts. Rather, grammatical concepts are introduced within the context of the reading passages. The grammatical and lexical lessons are reinforced via the exercises that accompany each reading passage. When appropriate, short explanatory outlines of the grammatical concepts are offered. This method of introducing the student to Hebrew grammar provides the student with small, bite-sized chunks of information presented in intuitive segments, rather than requiring them to memorized 'boring' grammar rules.
As students advance through the levels in this course, they are presented with longer and more complex reading passages and additional details about Hebrew grammar. The three books in this series are comparable to an introductory college level course in Hebrew. By the end of the course, students will have mastered a vocabulary of over 1,000 words, will be well-versed in the fundamentals of Hebrew grammar and syntax, will be able to read and write Hebrew fluently, and they will be well prepared to peruse further study in either Biblical or Modern Hebrew. Once completed, these books can be used as a reference book, as each includes a review of grammatical principles and vocabulary lists.
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- Ivrit Alfon, By Lois Rothblum, Bella Bergman, and Ora Band
Hebrew: A Language Course - Primer, this book offers the student a firm grounding in the Hebrew alphabet, the vowels, and, according to the book's authors, it will teach you to "...read and write Hebrew in six weeks or less." By the time you work through this book you will have also gained a working Hebrew vocabulary of about 140 words.
- Reader: Modern Hebrew Prose and Poetry, Edited by Ora Band
This anthology of Hebrew stories and poetry introduces second year Hebrew language students to the best of modern Hebrew literature.
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