My Hebrew Needs Brushing up

180px-Eliezer_Ben_Jehuda_bei_der_Arbeit.jpgI started learning Hebrew six years ago. My first teacher was the father of one of my pupils. He taught me how to read the letters and then we started on the parsha straight away. I was learning along with his wife and two of his daughters. It was a fantastic experience and it was good to be confronted with the text so soon.

Then the family moved to Paris and I joined a course for beginners at the local university. I drove there every thursday and had a two hour lesson with a group of other people. There were about eight of us. The aproach was different – more systemeatic – and this time we were learning modern Hebrew from a textbook. Yet the teacher was patient, kind and conscientious which made the course pleasant and worthwhile. I felt that I was learning and improving. We also had exams and I meant to go on like this for a few years.

Unfortunately the next year was far from being as positive. We still had the same teacher (but only for an hour) and we had a new teacher. The problem when you are a language teacher yourself is that you can tell how a course has been devised as well as if there is clear planning behind what you are being taught.

Obviously this new teacher was not as careful as the other one about what she wanted us to learn and how. It is useless to go into the details of what was wrong with this part of the course but the unfortunate result was that I quit.

The other regrettable outcome is that I no longer learn Hebrew on a systematic basis. I pray in Hebrew and sometimes check a word to make sure I get the overall idea of what I am saying but this is far from enough. Sadly my hometown is too small and there is no rabbi in residence so nobody to learn with. I still feel however that I greatly need to improve but am not sure how.

6 thoughts on “My Hebrew Needs Brushing up

  1. The best way is to immerse yourself in Hebrew by going to Israel. Anyone sponsoring Birthright for serious adults like Ilana-Davita who aren’t just in it for a free vacation?

    Do you want to learn Biblical or Modern Hebrew? To learn biblical, always read the text in the original first. And spend a lot of time looking up each word. Maybe blog about the new word?

    For Modern Hebrew, find something in Hebrew that interests you, and read that. Newspaper, novel, short story, poem.

    There is a Hebrew speaking group here in Highland Park. But if you wanted to start one, you would probably have to go into Paris a lot, right? Harder to do speech remotely.

  2. I live in Israel, but in a predominantly English-speaking area. My husband and I meet weekly with another couple (whom we met in ulpan) for tea and Hebrew conversation. We are each at different levels, but everyone takes a turn talking at some length and we have discussions about books and movies, debates, and share family news. Leora’s suggestion of finding other people who speak some Hebrew is useful, and one you might consider.

    If you don’t have a critical mass of Hebrew speakers where you live, there are some online Hebrew learning sites:
    Biblical Hebrew: http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/7_home.html
    Modern Hebrew: http://www.hebrewonline.com/leads/?CampaignID=234&utm_source=HO-Learn-hebrew.co.il&utm_medium=Web%20Campaign&utm_campaign=HO-Learn-hebrew.co.il
    Modern Hebrew: http://www.milingua.com/index.htm
    Modern Hebrew: http://www.ulpanet.com/?gclid=CL67hNTnkZMCFQmQGgodI1u4fA
    I haven’t used them myself, but they might be useful for remote Hebrew learning.

    And, of course, if you are ever at liberty to come to Israel, my home will be open to you. The Hebrew University in Jerusalem has a summer ulpan, and I’m sure there are others.

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