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Hebrew from Scratch, New Edition, Part 2

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Hebrew from Scratch, New Edition, Part 2

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Hebrew from Scratch, New Edition, Part 2
a.k.a.: Ivrit min ha-hathala, he-hadash, Beit
By Shlomit Chayat, Sara Israeli, and Hilla Kobliner
Academon: The Hebrew University Students' Printing and Publishing House - Jerusalem, 2015
ISBN: 978-965-350-127-0

Reviewed by Boris Segel - June 6, 2017

Hebrew from Scratch, New Edition, Part 2 is the second book in the two-part Hebrew from Scratch series. If it has been awhile since you completed the first book, or if you started with a different book and are using Hebrew from Scratch, New Edition, Part 2 as an advanced beginner or lower intermediate text, be sure to take the 100-question self-test that you'll find just a few pages into the book. If you do well on the self-test, you're good to go. If not, you might need to do a little revision to get up to speed before tackling this volume.

Part two of this series picks up, basically, where the first book left off, however in part two you'll find that you are presented with much longer reading and dialog sections than found at the end of part one. There are also fewer illustrations than in the first part. As with its predecessor, part two includes the bare minimum of English instruction, and nikkud (vowel marks) are only included when necessary for clarity. The exception to this rule can be found in the "Summary of Topics" section found at the end of each chapter, where most of the new vocabulary words in that chapter are listed. In these lists the words are presented with nikkud.

As with the first volume in the Hebrew from Scratch series, there is a set of audio recordings on CD that accompany this book. Throughout the book, you will find little headset icons that indicate the material that can be found on the recordings. As with part one, the CD recordings lack any English instruction, and you have to pay keen attention to tell when the recording jumps from one section to another as it is not always clear, even if you understand all the Hebrew. That being said, these recordings are still a good investment, especially if you are working through this book on your own. The recordings will help to ensure that you are pronouncing the Hebrew correctly, and they will give you an opportunity to practice your listening skills.

Again, as with the first part of this series, part two also does double-duty as a workbook. The text is filled with exercises ranging from fill in the blank and complete the sentence type exercises to circle the wrong word, and writing exercises. However, unlike the first book, the second does not provide the space to do all the exercises in the book itself - although space is provided for many of them. This is fine with me, as I would prefer not to write in the book anyway...

Throughout, students will find the reading selections varied, ranging from Biblical stories to contemporary issues. The lessons are engaging, and the presentation of grammar is a little more rigorous in the second part of the series than it was in the first. However, you may still want to keep a Hebrew grammar book handy to check out any tricky grammar questions you might have. A verb book may also come in handy. As you work your way through this book, you will find that you can read simple stories and perhaps even some newspaper articles - with the aid of a good dictionary. I highly recommend that you do as much outside reading as possible in order to expand you vocabulary. While I genuinely like this text book series, I was surprised as just how small the vocabulary is that you'll learn strictly from the two parts of the series. This is not a firm number as I did not count all the vocabulary words, but my guess is that you'll learn somewhere between 1,500 - 2,000 words directly from these two texts. This is not a very large vocabulary if you are working through these texts over a two-year period. However, you will gain a solid foundation in Hebrew from which to expand your vocabulary on your own.

I found both Hebrew from Scratch, New Edition, Parts 1 & 2 to be fun books to work through. The texts give you plenty of practice both reading and writing Modern Israeli Hebrew, but it also gives you some keen insights into Israeli culture and history. As well, if you have access to the audio recordings, you'll also get some practice listening to Hebrew being spoken by native speakers, while also getting some practice perfecting your accent. If at all possible, try to engage anyone you can find who knows Hebrew, in conversation. The best way to improve your Hebrew skills and get comfortable using the language is to actually use it - and conversing with native speaking - either in person or over the internet is a great way to do that. As well, listen to Israeli radio or other recordings and watch Israeli tv shows and movies. You'll find that, in this regard, the internet is full of free resources, several Israeli tv and radio stations stream their content online, online Israeli newspapers and other resources also abound. Also check out memrise.com. This is a website with free, ready-made flash cards on a variety of topics, and there are several sets that deal with the vocabulary from Hebrew from Scratch parts 1 & 2.

A word about purchasing Hebrew from Scratch, New Edition, Part 2. Number 1, make sure that you are getting the New Edition, it is much improved over the original edition. The new edition has been reissued several times, with printings coming out in 2001, 2007, and 2015 (that I know of). To the best of my knowledge, these printings are all identical (if you know otherwise, please let me know.) Just be sure that whichever printing you get, that it says he-hadash on the cover. As well, be sure to hunt around. This is an expensive textbook, but you can find a decent price if you hunt around. For example, on Amazon.com there are at least three listing that I found for part 2 of the new edition, with prices ranging from US$110.00 for a new copy to (currently) US$30.36 for a used copy with heavy wear. However, If you look at: this page, and scroll down just a few listings, there are currently a couple of new copies in the high US$30s to low 40s (plus shipping), and if you hunt around on some of the other listings, or websites, you might find a better price. Best of luck finding a copy at a decent price, and best of luck on your studies!


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