So many students ask me how many hours should I put into Hebrew reading practice? That is a good question. However, before I can even answer the question, I need to ask a few questions of my own: how fluent do you want to become? How important is Hebrew reading practice to you? What is your purpose to learning to read Hebrew? how much time do you have to devote to this?
One can say, because you are engaging in Hebrew reading practice, it is somewhat important, but it is also important to have a goal. Your goal might be to read from the Torah for your bar or bat mitzvah. Or it might be to read key prayers on the bimah during your conversion ceremony, whatever the reason, Hebrew reading practice will play a major role in achieving your goals.
The 10,000-hour rule and Hebrew reading practice
The 10,000-hour rule, which was popularized by Gladwell’s book “Outliers.” According to Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials. For example, when you go to a ballet, the dancers move so gracefully and fluidly across the stage. This has not been achieved in a couple of months, or even a few years.
It has taken these dancers hours and hours and hours of practice. Most likely, you guessed it, 10,000 hours. Fluency and mastery do not happen overnight, it takes a lot of practice.
How can you achieve fluency?
It is important not to be overwhelmed by the 10,000-hour concept. Start with five minutes. That’s all. Five minutes. Then you can build up your skills by working on it every day, to the point when you can master your reading and become fluent in Hebrew reading. Take it one step at a time and you will achieve your goal.