The Jewish Eye
Hebrew in 10 Minutes a Day
Reviewed by Simone Bonim - February 19, 2009
If you are moving or traveling to Israel, or if you want to start learning Hebrew, there are many routes you can take - you can take a formal class, get a textbook and study on your own, or you can get a hold of a phrase book that will allow you to mimic common phrases without needing to learn any Hebrew. There is also a fourth route that you can try - Hebrew in 10 Minutes a Day. This innovative book combines the best features of an introductory Hebrew textbook that is designed for self-study, along with all the features of a phrase book.
Hebrew in 10 Minutes a Day is unlike any introductory Hebrew text that I've ever seen. Not only does it teach you how to pronounce and write the Hebrew alphabet in print (Hebrew cursive writing is not taught in this book), but it also serves as a phrase book in that it teaches you how to pronounce essential phrases and words that will prove useful when traveling in Israel. However, it also does much more. Unlike most phrase books that only teach you how to read transliterations of Hebrew, this book actually teaches you how to read and speak Hebrew, and provides you with the skill to construct your own sentences, and it provides you with a solid foundation upon which to build a large vocabulary or to embark upon a more formal course of Hebrew language study.
Hebrew in 10 Minutes a Day is a fun book to use. It is a very colorful and well-illustrated book that will entice students of all ages to use the book, and it is chock full of fun exercises, quizzes, and games such as crossword puzzles, which help to make learning Hebrew seem effortless. The book also includes flash cards that you can cut out for on-the-go review of the vocabulary you have learned, as well as 150 sticky labels that you can stick on items around your learning environment that will help reinforce the vocabulary that you have learned in the book.
The book is designed to be worked through in a linear fashion, as each new section builds upon the information presented in previous sections. All Hebrew words are presented with vowels, and phonetic transliteration of each word is also provided, allowing you to check your pronunciation. Some of these transliterations do not exactly correspond to the formal pronunciation of some of the vowels, and they are not always translated consistently throughout the book. This is a common problem in many Hebrew textbooks. Hebrew is not a static language, and as with English there are variations on how words are pronounced. You'll discover that not all textbooks agree on what constitutes the correct pronunciation of many Hebrew words or even how many vowels there are!
Throughout, key words are emphasized. For example, question words such as where, what, who, and why, which once learned, will greatly increase your ability to construct your own sentences and will greatly advance your Hebrew skills. Hebrew grammar is not formally taught in this book. However, you will intuitively find that you will have picked up some of the fundamentals of Hebrew grammar by the time you complete this book.
The book is called Hebrew in 10 Minutes a Day because each lesson is designed to take you about ten minutes to complete. Do not feel compelled to stick to this schedule. Some days you might want to do more, and some days, such as the lesson that introduces you to Hebrew numbers, you might want to take longer on. While Hebrew is an easy language to learn, when compared to Chinese or Latin, you still need to do some work, so be sure to regularly review the vocabulary you have learned and practice, practice, practice. The internet is a great resource if you want to practice your Hebrew skills. Just do a web search for 'easy Hebrew' and you should find lots of practice material, as well, try listening to some of the online Israeli radio programs to improve your Hebrew skills.
This book is not designed as a formal introduction to Hebrew. Rather, it is designed more for tourists planning a trip to Israel and it assumes no prior knowledge of Hebrew. In this regard, its goal is to teach you how to compose basic sentences and to provide you with a basic vocabulary with which to use on your trip to Israel. It can also be used profitably as a means of jump-starting your Hebrew learning endeavors. (Once you go through this book, you'll find that Hebrew is not an as intimidating language as it might appear on first glance!) In this book you'll learn a rather large vocabulary of common words and phrases, such as words for items around the house, colors, numbers, common greetings, asking for directions, paying bills, reading traffic signs, dining out, shopping, taking public transportation, clothing, government buildings, holidays, and much, much more.
I was really amazed at just how much information, and just how extensive the vocabulary is in this book. Most important, I really enjoyed working through the exercises in this book. There are, however, two minor drawbacks to this otherwise outstanding book - it could use an answer key for the exercises, and the addition of an audio component would greatly enhance the overall usefulness of this book. On both counts, these are minor drawbacks. If you have a strong grasp of the material studied, you should have no trouble checking your own answers, and in regard to the audio component, there is a plethora of resources available online that will allow you to listen to native speakers, speaking Hebrew.
If you are planning a trip to Israel, or just want to wet your feet before embarking on a formal course of study in Hebrew, I highly recommend Hebrew in 10 Minutes a Day for students and tourist, middle school age and above!
Good News: In the Fall of 2009, Hebrew in 10 Minutes a Day is getting even better. A new edition is scheduled for released that will include an interactive CD-ROM! We will update this note as soon as the new version becomes available.
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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.
- Lonely Planet Hebrew Phrasebook, by Klara Illana Wistinetzki and Justin Ben-Adam (Rudelson).
The second edition of the Lonely Planet Hebrew Phrasebook, is a pocket-sized phrase book filled with all the basic words and phrases that you are likely to need while traveling around Israel and communicating with the average man or women on the street, in a variety of situations from general social interactions to emergency situations.
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