I have been wanting to learn Hebrew, since I would love to live in Israel. I don’t like Rosetta Stone, I don’t know anyone who speaks Hebrew or who is even Jewish, so I didn’t know what to do. I came to the conclusion I would have to do it myself. If there is a will, there is a way.
Why learn another language?
In Germany, children are taught a foreign language in elementary, another language in middle school, and another language in high school. With German, by the time they graduate they will know four languages. I believe everyone should know at least two languages. Knowing another language gives you great cultural insight! I have always been fascinated about other cultures.
In the following, I will use Hebrew, but you can change it with whatever language you want to learn.
- Read this article that includes information, polls, tips and resources for learning a language.
- Choose a language and culture you are interested in. The more you want to speak it, the less likely you will want to give up.
- When choosing the language, also remembering you’re studying the culture, too.
- Be sure you won’t be burnt out in a week of trying to learn that language. Make sure you are REALLY interested in it.
- Know your learning style.
- Try to find somebody who also speaks the language.
CHOOSE A LANGUAGE AND CULTURE YOU ARE INTERESTED IN
To truly excel in a language, the language’s culture must interest you. I would highly encourage you to not just pick a language that interests you, but a culture. Learning Hebrew would be meaningless if you didn’t either have a knowledge of Judaism, or a desire to know about Judaism.
- Books that teach Hebrew (That are meant for non-native speakers)
- Kids books in Hebrew
- CDs (music) in Hebrew
- CDs (for people trying to learn the language)
- Kids movies in Hebrew
This is easiest for Hebrew. There is the Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB), which is in English with certain words in Hebrew. When reading a NIV Bible and OJB simultaneously, you will learn Hebrew.
Psalm 121:1-2 NIV I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2 OJB I will lift up mine eyes unto the harim, from whence cometh ezri. Ezri cometh from HaShem, oseh shomayim v’aretz.
From Genesis 1:1, we know aretz is earth. We also learned to help (ezri) as well as hills/mountains (harim). They say you will be able to hear a language before speaking it. Lyrics in hymns especially will repeat, and when you listen to a song and are able to pick out a few words you learned from other songs, you will be thrilled!
Bible Gateway has nearly every single Bible version for free, including foreign language Bibles. For Hebrew, I found qBible, which has the Bible in Hebrew, Hebrew transliteration, and English – and all three are beside each other.
Challenge: Instead of trying to memorize a verse/chapter in English, try memorizing a verse/chapter in the foreign language.
I am always listening to music. I also find myself humming and singing the song I learned – so why not learn some Hebrew? Listening to music in a foreign language is a fun and easy way to learn some of the language. When you listen to music in that language, you get a feel for how it’s supposed to sound.
Challenge: Spend a week looking for music in the language you want to learn. For a week, only listen to music in that language. Listen to it while you work, while you’re doing school, have it on the radio. No English music for a week.
MOVIES AND TV
For Hebrew, Arabic, and Chinese learners – this probably isn’t going to be a great option for you. However, this will work best for Spanish and French. You have two options: watch it in English with foreign language subtitles, or watch it dubbed in a foreign language with English subtitles. I think using both methods would be best. Or, you can watch foreign language films, like watch Life is Beautiful in the original Italian!
The Voice has an episode in nearly every country/language. I watch The Voice Israel often; YouTube has full episodes. Watching TV shows in native languages is a way to immerse into the language.
So, I highly recommend trying out movies and TV shows of the language you’re learning!
I first tried podcasts for Hebrew, Learn Hebrew Pod and Hebrew Podcasts. They gave me a basic knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet, introductions, and just stuff I will need to know in Israel. Many podcasts come with transcripts for spelling and a better pronunciation. For me, podcasts failed because I am a visual learner. If I hear, I normally forget.
HebrewPod101 on YouTube was a great resource, and they have SpanishPod101, TurkishPod101, DutchPod101. etc.
Set your Facebook, Pinterest, iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc. to that language. Unless its in Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese or Japanese, this should be pretty easy!
iTalki is a paid tutoring resource. However, it also has tons of free resources!
Q&A – ask questions, get answers
Live Mochamay not be the best resources, but it has some valuable stuff.
Go to the App Store and type up your desired language. “Hebrew” “Spanish” “French”, whatever. Then, go and download every free app you think would be helpful. If it looks good, no matter the rating, download it. Then, go through all of the apps you downloaded, weed out the unhelpful ones, and then use the “good” ones. I have found tons of great Hebrew flashcard/letter games and stuff. I have been enjoying the series Nemo Apps for Hebrew. They have tons of flashcard-based resources for a bunch of different languages.
Go to Google and type up “Hebrew color worksheets”. I printed off a bunch of kid resources for myself, teaching me the Hebrew alphabet (Almost have down!) and numbers/colors.
What I love about Mango:
- It’s free (for those whose libraries have it)
- It’s easy to use
- It has literal translations
- It has pronunciation guides
- It has grammar tips
- It allows you to repeat the translation as many times as possible
- You can work at your own pace
- It keeps track of time spent.
- You can download it on mobile devices
Go to http://www.findmango.com/. Enter your zip code and find your library. If you can find it, enter your library account number, and then create a Mango account. Creating a Mango account allows you to do Mango on your iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone.
Tips for learning a foreign language
Get the feeling for the culture.
The best thing about learning a language is you get to learn about another culture. Gustave Flaubert said, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
Learn the first 100 words.
Practice for 15 minutes daily.
It is recommended when learning a foreign language, practice for fifteen minutes every day. Every. Single. Day. Not a half hour every other day, fifteen minutes every day. More than thirty minutes daily is too much, and you may get burnt out soon. (Unless of course it’s student-led)
Don’t give up.
You won’t learn any language in ten days. It’s frustrating, believe me I know. Don’t give up!!
Immerse yourself in the language.
Visit the country.
OK, this is not cheap. But, it WILL be an experience of a lifetime! Maybe…senior trip?
Do you have any tips for learning a foreign language? Let me know!