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Learn Hebrew Now!

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Learn Hebrew Now!

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Learn Hebrew Now!
New Version 10: He-N10-1-CW
CD-ROM for Windows
By Transparent Language
ISBN: 1-59251-195-3

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - February 26, 2007

Hebrew is a dynamic and modern language, with an ancient heritage. The reasons for learning Hebrew are varied, and range from those learning Hebrew for business purposes to religious scholars who want to be able to read the Torah and other religious texts in their original format. No matter why you want to learn Hebrew, I highly recommend that you check out the new Version 10 of the Learn Hebrew Now! computer software program for Windows.

This is an innovative, multi-media program that teaches modern Israeli Hebrew. The program incorporates full motion videos, written texts, ample audio material, word games, exercises, and the ability to record, playback and compare your own voice to that of native speakers. It is equally suited for total beginners as well as those who have already begun their study of Hebrew, but who have not yet mastered the language, or who need an additional practice to hone their comprehension and speaking skills. This program allows you to proceed at your own pace, and you'll find that it is fun and easy use.

In the last several years I've been given the opportunity to examine an assortment of software programs that teach Hebrew to English-speaking students. Without reserve, I can say that the Learn Hebrew Now! program is simply awesome! It provides students with an assortment of learning 'immersion' environments that provide ample opportunity to learn and practice their Hebrew listening, reading, speaking, writing, and overall comprehension skills. Using a unique and innovative approach, this program offers three beginner levels, one intermediate level environment, and one transliterated Hebrew environment. In all, more than 15,000 words are introduced within this program!

There are five immersion environments, including one level that contains 'Scenes from the Benny Zinger Show'. This environment helps to teach and explain colloquial words and phrases that are commonly used in Israel. There are also two immersion environments that are geared toward the traveler. One is in Hebrew, and one in transliterated Hebrew. Both contain survival phrases and words geared toward the traveler who wants to be prepared to handle just about any situation that might arise while traveling in Israel from asking directions to the bathroom to going shopping. There is also an intermediate level immersion environment that takes students on a virtual tour of Jerusalem, while expanding their vocabulary, and other essential language skills.

Within each environment, the students will find a plethora of opportunities to practice their reading, listening, and speaking skills. The program also offers students the opportunity to record their voices and to compare it to native speakers of Israeli Hebrew. Throughout all the Hebrew material contained in this program is read aloud by native speakers of Israeli Hebrew, and vowels (nikud) are used.

Within each immersion environment you'll find a variety of learning opportunities including a theater screen that allows you to watch videos that are accompanied by a written transcription, in Hebrew, along with an English translation of the video dialog being viewed. These videos allow you to not only listen to, and read the dialogs, but also to examine how native speakers move and gesture while they are speaking and to get a sense of the rhythm and speech patterns used by native speakers. You'll also get ample practice in reading Hebrew, along with grammar tips and explanations. This program also includes a number of fun activities that will allow you to practice your reading, spelling, and syntax skills, and to review your vocabulary. These activities range from crossword puzzles and unscrambling sentences to sentence and word diction, where you hear a sentence or word read aloud and you then type out what you have heard. Pronunciation activities are also included, as are innumerable conversations that you can listen to and read, or you can elect to take on one of the roles, and speak that characters part in a given dialog.

At first glance, this program may seem a bit overwhelming, especially if this is your first introduction to Hebrew. I say this, because the program immediately starts you out reading and listening to basic Hebrew sentences that introduce you to 100 of the most common Hebrew nouns and verbs. In addition, the readers are all native speakers who speak, well, like a native. This means that newbies may find that the dialog reading is too fast for their ears. Never fear. If you look around the screen you'll see a little button with a turtle on it. Just push it and the voice will slow down to a manageable speed! Best of all, you'll be surprised at how fast you'll discover that you no longer need the turtle button and that you can easily understand a native speaker speaking at a normal, conversational speed.

For those that want or need a basic introduction to the Hebrew alphabet and Hebrew grammar, this information is also available, and is located within the section entitled Reference Tools. You'll also find links to these sections scattered throughout the program if you need additional help. Throughout you'll also find links to the Before You Know It, Lite (BYKI) program. This is a useful flash card program that is keyed to the Learn Hebrew Now! vocabulary, enabling you to practice many of the basic words and phrases that you'll encounter in the program.

At this time the BYKI lite program contains sixty-seven vocabulary lists. A deluxe version of the BYKI program is also available, and a seperate review of the Hebrew Before You Know It Deluxe is available. In addition to the BYKI lite program, the Learn Hebrew Now! program also includes audio and flash card components that you can download to your PDA, iPod, or MP3 player so that you can study on-the-go.

The Learn Hebrew Now! is perfect for independent students of all ages, as well as supplemental practice for those studying in a classroom setting. It can also be used as the main text in classes where computer access is available. Learn Hebrew Now! provides business and pleasure travelers with a quick and easy means of learning essential travel phrases. Best of all, this program offers so much variety, both in terms of the text, dialogs, and videos, as well as in terms of the numerous supplemental activities that you'll never get bored using it. More important, you'll learn Hebrew the right way - by learning to speak like a native, and to understand native speakers who are speaking normally.

The only drawback to this program is that it does not provide any practice at reading the written (cursive) form of Hebrew, nor any practice reading unvowelized Hebrew. As with English cursive writing, the written form of Hebrew is used in an assortment of settings from letter writing to advertising. Written Hebrew is simply a modified version of the printed form of Hebrew and you'll will be able to pick it up with little effort once you learn the printed form. The only other item that this program does not cover is practice at reading unvowelized Hebrew. Most printed Hebrew in Israeli books and newspapers does not include the vowel marks. Like the written form of Hebrew, the unvowelized form takes some getting use to. However, once you complete this program, I'm sure that you will learn to read unvowelized Hebrew in a relatively short time. As far as drawbacks go, both of these issues are very minor!

There are numerous methods of studying Hebrew, from attending an Ulpan to studying a text book on your own. No matter what method you choose, if you want to learn to comprehend and speak Hebrew, it is vital to acquire the services of a native speaker. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. However, there is a practical and efficient solution - find yourself a virtual native speaker to tutor you in speaking modern Israeli Hebrew correctly and to afford you the opportunity to listen to a native speaker. The Learn Hebrew Now! not only gives you access to several different native speakers, but this innovative program also gives you the opportunity to compare your pronunciation to theirs, and provides you with an unprecedented opportunity to listen and see native speakers, speaking in both conversational and formal settings. This alone makes this program invaluable to anyone interested in learning modern Hebrew. However, when combined with all the other features in this program, and the extensive reading and writing activities makes it a complete and effective course in modern Israeli Hebrew that can be used equally well by motivated independent learners as well as by those studying Hebrew in a traditional setting. As I said at the start, this is an awesome program and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning modern Hebrew or in improving their Hebrew language skills.

In addition to the Learn Hebrew Now! program, this program also includes several other programs and components:
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