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Brandeis Modern Hebrew, Intermediate to Advanced

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Brandeis Modern Hebrew, Intermediate to Advanced

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Brandeis Modern Hebrew, Intermediate to Advanced
Pilot Edition
By Vardit Ringvald, Bonit Porath, Yaron Peleg, Esther Shorr
Brandeis University Press Waltham, MA: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-61168-447-6

Reviewed by Boris Segel - September 1, 2017

Ok, so you've completed a rigorous first year (two-semester) college level course in Modern Hebrew - what's next? If you are studying Hebrew in an academic setting, the choice most likely will not be yours. You simply have to take the next course in your school's curriculum. However, if you are an independent learner, or are in a school where you can choose between classes using different textbooks, you should consider using the Brandeis Modern Hebrew, Intermediate to Advanced textbook.

This textbook was designed as a sequel text to Brandeis Modern Hebrew: Hebrew in Context. This is a first year textbook designed around the Hebrew curriculum at Brandies University. Brandeis Modern Hebrew, Intermediate to Advanced picks up where the first book leaves off, and can be used to guide students through their second and third years of university-level Modern Hebrew instruction.

As with the first book, this more advanced text focuses on all four of the key learning skills, namely reading, writing, listening, and speaking. As well, each chapter is designed around a central theme, and the text includes a plethora of readings from, for the most part, authentic sources. There are also a lot of reading and writing exercises, with space to fill your answers in. There are six units in this text, with each comprising a number of chapters. Each unit ends with an extensive vocabulary list, and wealth of verb tables have been included at the end of the text.

Be aware, this textbook is not meant to be used in a vacuum. It assumes that you will be practicing your new language skills in a variety of setting, both in and out of the classroom. Students need to speak with, and listen to, native speakers. Or, if that is not possible, at least with fellow students. They need to watch and listen to Hebrew language movies and radio programs. They need to try reading across of breadth of formats ranging from newspapers to novels. It is only by using, and internalizing the information, and vocabulary that you have learned, that you will you become proficient in Modern Hebrew. Best of all, by engaging in these pastimes, you will find (or at least I did) that while you might not always know all the words being used, you will often be able to figure out what is going on, or what you are reading, based upon the context and the words you already know. Over time, I found that I was learning new words, and perfecting my pronunciation and listening skills without putting in as much effort as I had to when I first started learning Hebrew. My language 'muscle memory' seemed to help me advance in my studies, even when I was not aware that I was learning something new.

Basically, Brandeis Modern Hebrew, Intermediate to Advanced builds upon the grammatical and vocabulary groundwork laid in your first year of learning Modern Hebrew, and it gives you the necessary skills and guidance to advance your language skills both through the text and by encouraging you to use your new skills in a 'real world' environment. It is not quite the same as the immersion environment that you might encounter in an Ulpan class, but it does encourage you to make your own immersion environment and to get you to really use your new skills. Also, be forewarned that the language of instruction in this textbook is all Hebrew, and from the syllabi that I've looked at, most courses that use this textbook are conducted totally in Hebrew. However, if you have a firm grasp of the material presented in the first book in this series, Brandeis Modern Hebrew: Hebrew in Context, I doubt that you'll have much trouble following along. In addition, if you have completed an academically rigorous two-semester course in Modern Hebrew using a textbook such as: I think that you'll do fine using any of these, or similar books, you just might need to brush up on some of the vocabulary terms that you did not encounter in your first year course.

By the time you finish working through Brandeis Modern Hebrew, Intermediate to Advanced, you should be able to write essays and letters using complex sentences, engage in coherent conversations, and able to understand most of what is said to you, as well as whatever you read, albeit you will still need to refer to a dictionary or grammar text on occasion. My guess is that, according to the ACTFL proficiency guidelines, you'll finish this book at the low-advanced or mid-advanced level, maybe even higher. While this will not make you a fluent Hebrew speaker/user, it will put you well on your way to that goal. In addition, you'll be well placed to continue your Hebrew studies either in an academic setting or merely by using and nurturing what you have already learned!

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