Other Language Learning Options

I don't want to turn this into a commercial web site but I would like to recommend a few other language learning possibilities.

Briercrest Distance Learning

If you need College or Seminary credit for a first year Biblical Hebrew course you could take it by distance learning from Briercrest College and Seminary where I work.

The Briercrest Distance Learning Hebrew courses are based on the lectures found on this web site (used by special permission.) In fact, if you study these lectures, learn the vocabulary and paradigms (as outlined in the lectures) and complete the readings in chapters 41 - 54 of Allen Ross's Introducing Biblical Hebrew, you will have basically completed the two courses that make up first year Hebrew. Between this web site and Ross's textbook you could do all that and then when you are ready enroll in the DL courses to get the credit, if this is something you need. It would take the stress out of studying by someone else's timeline. :)

Living Biblical Hebrew for Everyone by Dr. Randall Buth

Dr. Randall Buth has Biblical Hebrew course materials for sale from his web site www.biblicalulpan.org (and Koine Greek materials as well). He also offers immersion based courses in Israel which would be a wonderful experience if this is an option for you. I highly recommend Dr. Buth's materials because he uses an approach that I am convinced is pedagogically superior to what I call the "grammar first" approach used by most instructors and textbooks including my own lectures on this web site. Teaching Hebrew grammar does have its place and it is a way into the language but I do not believe it is the most efficient nor the most effective.

Dr. Buth's Hebrew materials consist of two volumes. The first volume uses a methodology similar to what is used by The Learnables, a company that produces immersion language learning materials (see below). The second volume starts to introduce grammar and leads the student through the book of Jonah.

If you want a pleasant but effective introduction to Biblical Hebrew I recommend at least the first volume of Living Biblical Hebrew for Everyone. Here the learner is introduced to Hebrew by listening before they read, write or speak. It's a language first rather than a grammar first approach.

You start by listening to 10 lessons with pictures and audio only. Each lesson has 100 picture/audio combinations. It starts with single nouns, then adds the article, then the conjunction, then verbs with objects etc. without using any grammatical terminology or English translation. You listen (listen only without repeating) to each lesson something like 2 - 4 times. Every second lesson there is a short comprehension quiz. If you get 80% or higher you move on. By the end of the 10 lessons you are understanding full sentences in a simple narrative.

Next you learn the alphabet. Actually you can start this at any time. Buth has a method that teaches students to learn to sound out letters without having them learn the names of the letters. They can learn the names later because it is not necessary for reading. He has a comparison method with lists and audio and he starts right away with syllables. Again it's enjoyable and painless. No grammar, no memorizing.

After the student has completed the first two sections (perhaps done in tandem) then they read everything they have already learned aurally. It all comes quite naturally.

Just a short note on Koine Greek, for those who are interested. As I mentioned above, Randall Buth also has course materials for Koine Greek. These parallel his Hebrew materials. Also Bill Mounce has a full set of audio lectures for sale on his web site www.teknia.com that correspond to his textbook Basics of Biblical Greek. You can listen to summary versions of these lectures for free at www.biblicaltraining.org.

Hebrew Audio

One way to supplement the "grammar first" approach, mentioned above, is to listen to a recording of the Hebrew Bible rather than just trying to read it. This is probably not going to be very accessible until you have finished your first year of Hebrew studies but it is an important way to increase Hebrew proficiency. Learning to absorb a language via the ear activates the brain in ways that are different than simply analysing it via the eye. Language is more than morphological and syntactical analysis of graphic symbols on a page.

You can get an excellent recording of the entire Hebrew Bible by Shlomo Bertonov from The Central Library for the Blind in Israel. The last time I checked the cost was US$50. They also have a sample of the recording on the web site. This same recording (by Shlomo Bertonov) is also available from other resellers, e.g. (www.hebrewworld.com, www.learn-hebrew-bible.com, www.hebrew4christians.com, etc.). You will probably also find an audio editor useful to give you better playback control. Especially when you are just starting, the audio recordings will be too fast for you to follow. With an audio editor you can select short portions of the recording to playback repeatedly. I recommend Audacity. It's free, open source, cross-platform and easy to use. SoundScriber is also a great program to use. You can step through the audio automatically and choose the number of times you want it to loop through a section. It was designed to aide in the "transcription of digitized sound files." It doesn't always stop exactly where you might want but it's pretty good and it's easy to use. It's also free. :)

Modern Hebrew: Live Instruction

The biggest benefit of taking modern Hebrew is that it will help you naturalize the language. You will move from reciting lists of verb paradigms to actually using them in speech. You will begin to think in Hebrew.

My wife and I have taken the first two levels of HebrewOnline.com. They can be VERY good, especially if you get the right teacher. I highly recommend Drora Ezekiel, and I know my wife really enjoyed Rivka Fershtman. There's just nothing like having live interaction with a native Hebrew speaker as a teacher (their teachers are all in Israel and they connect live with students all over the world). The customer service is also very good. Whenever I had any questions I would email them and they'd get back to me via phone, usually within 24 hours, as long as it wasn't Shabbat. :) They also offer Biblical (Classical) Hebrew but I haven't taken any of those classes.

Modern Hebrew: Self Study

Learn Hebrew Pod is one of the best sources I've tried for learning modern Hebrew. They have all native Hebrew speakers with great voices and clear Hebrew enunciation (and sometimes cute English pronounciation ;), excellent pedagogy, a large and expanding number of audio lessons, full transcripts, online interactive tools, lots of free lessons to try, very reasonably prices, and they are effective and a lot of fun. I highly recommend them!

The Learnables is a company that produces immersion language learning materials. Volume one of Dr. Buth's materials (see above) is based on the The Learnables methodology. Dr. Buth applied it to Biblical Hebrew. The Learnables, however, also have a couple of levels of modern Hebrew. I've been through everything they have in modern Hebrew and I recommend it. Unfortunately The Learnables only have a couple of levels for Hebrew. Their offerings in French, Spanish and German are considerably more extensive (and they have other languages.) By the way, if you have children this is a great way to get them into a second language. It's fun and they won't even realize they are learning! :)

HEBREW on DVD by Prolog is a good set. It consists of a book and 3 DVDs. Sample chapters and video clips are available on the web site. Cost is reasonable - about $90.

The 1965 Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Hebrew curriculum is now available online for free. Includes a 552 page book in pdf form and 40+ audio tapes converted to mp3. Excellent pedagogical introduction, lots of dialogues, and native Hebrew speakers on the mp3s. A bit of a gold mine for modern Hebrew study.

Stanford University hosts 20 modern Hebrew video lessons. Great material. They also have lots of other multimedia.