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Contemporary Hebrew 1

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Contemporary Hebrew 1

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Contemporary Hebrew 1
An Introductory Course in the Hebrew Language
By Menahem Mansoor
Behrman House Publishers, 1977
ISBN: 0-87441-251-X

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - February 6, 2008

Menahem Mansoor's introductory course in Modern Hebrew, Contemporary Hebrew 1 is an introductory, college level text that is suitable for advance high school students, college students, and independent learners. This text provides a grammar-based introduction to Modern Hebrew, and it is in my opinion the best introductory text available for learning the fundamental rules of Hebrew grammar, while at the same time gaining a firm foundation and understanding of Modern Hebrew.

The text begins with a brief introduction to the history and development of Modern Hebrew, and the Hebrew alphabet and vowel signs. The main body of the text begins with chapter six, with most of the chapters beginning with a reading segment in vowlelized Hebrew. These reading segments included poems, letters, jokes, and short texts. Each reading segment is followed by a vocabulary list, the chapters main lesson, then an assortment of exercises. The exercises consist of self-correcting exercises (the answers are located in the back of the book), as well as an assortment of exercises that do not have an answer key. These exercises run the gamut from translation and writing exercises to practice reading unvowelized texts and fill in the blank exercises. Also, throughout the book you'll find review quizzes, review tests, and review overviews of the text.

This book was first published in the late 1970's and as such, some of the vocabulary, pictures, and pedagogical aspects of the book are a bit outdated. Nonetheless, Contemporary Hebrew 1 is one of the best beginning Hebrew texts, for adults, that I've come across. By providing a straightforward introduction to the basics of Hebrew grammar, rather than introducing grammatical elements on an 'as need' basis as many texts do, the learner is saved the need of memorizing countless words that can easily be deciphered if you know the grammatical rules of Hebrew. In addition, Mansoor provides ample practice exercises throughout the text.

The only drawback to this text, especially if you are an independent student, is the lack of a full answer key and the absence of audio material. Way back when, an audio recording that covered the reading practices, vocabulary, and sounds of the alphabet was available from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Mansoor was a professor. To the best of my knowledge this audio tape is no longer available. Also, although this book is entitled, Contemporary Hebrew 1, its sequel, Contemporary Hebrew 2 was never published. Fear not. When you finish this text you will have a solid foundation from which to tackle pretty much any intermediate text because of the solid grounding that you will have acquired in the fundamentals of Hebrew grammar.


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