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Brandeis Modern Hebrew

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Brandeis Modern Hebrew

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Brandeis Modern Hebrew
Hebrew in Context (Ivrit Be'heksher)
With Downloadable Companion CD
By Vardit Ringvald, Bonit Porath, Yaron Peleg, Esther Shorr, Sara Hascal
Brandeis University Press, Waltham, MA: 2015
ISBN: 978-1-611-689-181

Reviewed by Boris Segel - September 1, 2017

Brandeis Modern Hebrew: Hebrew in Context is a comprehensive first year, university level textbook/workbook, which teaches the fundamentals of Modern Hebrew. The textbook can also be adapted for use in a high school setting and for independent learners. The book was designed around the Brandeis University Hebrew curriculum, and it gives equal weight to all the key language skills that a student needs to acquire to become proficient in a language, such as reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. By the time you complete and understand the material in this textbook, you will be at the intermediate level of learning Modern Hebrew.

The text is divided into thematic chapters, such as family, food, learning environment, people and places, etc. By building each chapter around a core theme, it helps the learner to better relate to the vocabulary and, I think, makes it much easier to remember the vocabulary when working with related groups of terms. Throughout you will also become familiar with reading the two styles of Hebrew writing - the block letters used in printed materials, and the script style used when writing by hand. You'll also learn how to write in the script style and to perfect you speaking skills both in the classroom, and out, using the text's companion CD (more about the CD later).

In all, there are eleven units in this book, and they contain a selection of dialogs, exercises, grammar and linguistic explanations, list of vocabulary words, authentic readings, and review material. In addition this book comes with a companion CD that contains audio recordings of all the reading sections and dialogs. These sections are also reprinted on the CD so that you can more easily follow along with the readings. Please note that earlier printings of Brandeis Modern Hebrew came with a physical CD. This physical CD is not included in later printings of the textbook. Instead, you need to download an 'image' of the CD and then burn it yourself. You can download the data for the CD at http://www.upne.com/BMHCD/. Both MAC and Windows versions of the CD are available for free download from the above link, which comes from the publisher. Instructions on how to download the program is located on the download page. For some reason, I was not able to open the file once I downloaded it. To fix this problem, I burnt the image file to a CD and then copied it back to my computer, and voila, it worked fine both directly from the CD and from my computer. Not sure what the problem was, but I wanted to give you this work around in case you run into the same problem.

Throughout, the authors of Brandeis Modern Hebrew have included plenty of exercises through which you can practice the material you have learned. Ample space has been included in the textbook so that you can write your answers in the book. In addition, the book's readings are varied and the accompanying CD gives you plenty of practice in listening and perfecting you speaking skills. Culture tidbits are also included, as are a host of fun and informative illustrations.

All in all, I found this to be a remarkably fun textbook to read through. But, most important, it is one that will provide you with a solid foundation in all areas of Modern Hebrew, with a heavy emphasis on learning proper Hebrew grammar and the various verb forms. As such, this textbook will prepare you to continue your Hebrew studies with either Brandeis Modern Hebrew's companion volume, Brandeis Modern Hebrew, Intermediate to Advanced, or basically any other intermediate level Modern Hebrew textbook.


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