Friday, August 24, 2007

recommendation for book to learn hebrew

When my son learns mishnayos he uses the English Kehati series, which he has gotten comfortable with, but I am not very happy with that. One of the big differences between my girls’ school’s curriculum and my son’s school is that the girls learn Hebrew fairly well, i.e. they can take any pasuk in chumash and identify the shorashim of words, otiyot shimuch, etc., translate the words, and manage to speak and write a fairly understandable Hebrew. The girls’ school tries to teach ivrit b’ivrit but in chumash will do English translation for harder words; they also learn some grammar and are occasionally assigned “chiburim” to write. My son’s school half-heartedly uses the Lashon haTorah workbook series which my son admits to not pay attention to. They translate only into English, none of the Rebbeim speak Hebrew, and certainly none of the boys could engage in any conversational Hebrew. The result is that my son is chained to English crutches for his learning. Can anyone out there recommend a Hebrew workbook, audio program, or something that can jumpstart his learning and understanding Hebrew?

For the record, I am biased from my own experience and believe ivrit b'ivrit instruction is the way to go, but no boys school that I know of really carries it out. In the long run it makes a huge difference. Reading in Hebrew/Aramaic and then mentally translating sentence by sentence back to English is not the same as being able to read and undertstand a book/sefer in the language it was written in.


  1. Anonymous11:21 AM

    Aramaic is not Ivrit either.

  2. Anonymous11:51 AM

    Maybe you could have him listen to online shiurim in Ivrit periodically and then have him give over the shiurim to you in English.

  3. Anonymous11:53 AM

    Sorry, the last word should read "Ivrit", not "english"

  4. Anonymous2:36 PM

    Why doesn't your son just learn from a Hebrew Kehati?
    I speak Hebrew and Yiddish fluently even though I never formally studied either language.The Yeshiva policy of not allowing english trnsalations and the fact that shiurim were alway given in Yiddish made me pick them up by themselves.

  5. Anonymous4:12 PM

    To answer a question with a question: How good is your Hebrew?

    Language is best learned when some conversation/oral use is part of the mix. If you and/or your wife are fluent enough, start using Hebrew at home, even if it's only on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

  6. Anonymous10:39 AM

    Not a book, but we went to a family program at Ulpan Akiva in Netanya for a summer which I recommend highly.

  7. The Rosetta Stone programs are excellent for conversational language, but they are pricy.

    I have found "Hayesod" to be an excellent book.

    Acquiring a reading knowledge of Hebrew is fundamentally different from acquiring a fluency in spoken Hebrew.

  8. Anonymous6:18 PM

    The First Hebrew Primer, Third Edition - EKS Publishing Co.