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Modern Hebrew!

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Modern Hebrew!
A Comprehensive Method
Davka Corporation, 2001

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - May 14, 2002

Modern Hebrew: A Comprehensive Method is a self-contained, complete course in Hebrew. Beginning with a brief introduction to the Hebrew Alphabet and the basics of reading Hebrew, this will also teach you the fundamentals of grammar, provide you with a vocabulary of over 900 words, and introduce you to elements of Israel culture and geography.

This course is divided into 22 lessons, and each lesson offers practice in reading, listening, pronunciation, and grammar. Each lesson also includes a series of interactive exercises that help to reinforce the material learned. Throughout, this course is completely audible. In the introductory lesson that teaches the basics of Hebrew, you simply click on a letter, word, or letter/vowel combination to hear it read by a native Israeli speaker. Each main lesson includes a dialogue - text section, which can be read to you word by word, by the sentence, or the whole text at once. The audible portions of this course are read by a variety of speakers, both male and female, which gives you a chance to hear the Hebrew being spoken in a number of voices. As well, in the early lessons the text is read naturally, but slowly, as the lessons progress they increase not only in difficulty, but also the speed at which the text is read also increases.

I found the introductory section of this course was thorough, but it may be a bit abbreviated for those who are 'starting from scratch', and these individuals may be more comfortable starting with a program such as Davka's Learning to Read Hebrew program. This introductory section, does, however, serves as an excellent review of the alphabet and the basics of Hebrew reading. And, although brief, it is comprehensive and does provide enough information to tackle the rest of the course.

As to the lessons themselves, the dialogues accompanying each lesson are intriguing, and they progress in difficulty as the course advances. Each lesson is accompanied by a still or active animation that helps to illustrate the dialogue. Each lesson also includes a variety of interactive exercises. These exercises come in four varieties: complete the sentence, select the proper word, select the proper color, and fill-in the blanks. When you are finished with the exercise, you can hit the 'validate' button found at the bottom of the screen to check your answers. Grammar lessons are an intricate part of each lesson.

Besides the lessons in Hebrew, this course also provides some background information about Israel. Each lesson includes a segment of a popular Israeli song, and articles, in English, on Israeli culture, history, and day to day life in Israel. Each lesson also provides access to a map of Israel. If you click on the cites listed on the map, information about that city will appear. Best of all, this CD includes a Hebrew - English, English - Hebrew dictionary that contains all the words introduced on this CD. By clicking on the words in the dictionary, you can hear the words read aloud. Throughout this course, all words are spoken in Sephardic Hebrew, which is the pronunciation used in Israel.

Overall, this is an excellent program that can be used as a self-study tool, as a study aid, and as a means of reinforcing Hebrew reading and pronunciation skills that may have become rusty over time. This course will also help you learn to understand other people when they speak Hebrew - this is especially important for those studying on their own as they may not have the opportunity, otherwise, to hear native speakers. Another important aspect of this program is that it gives you the ability to record your own voice, and than compare it to those reading the text. For this you need to have a microphone hooked up to your computer. In all, this course will greatly enhance your skills at Hebrew reading, speaking, and comprehension.

System Requirements:

PC with Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP
32MB RAM, CD-ROM Drive, Sound Card, Pentium 166

Recommended: Pentium 233 and 64 MB RAM

or

Mac Minimum: Power Mac 166, 32 MB RAM, CD-ROM drive, System 7.5 and above.

Mac Recommended: G3 233, 64 MB RAM, CD-ROM drive, System 7.5 and above.


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