Learn to read Hebrew – a surprisingly simple way!

Learn to read Hebrew – in a surprisingly simple way!

It always surprises me how many people want to learn to read Hebrew. I have been teaching people to read Hebrew since I was 15! That is well over thirty years (without giving away my age, LOL!). Every time I start with a new class or a new pupil, I always ask them if they think it is hard to read this ancient text. Almost invariably, they answer ‘very difficult’.

Ninety-nine per cent of my Hebrew pupils speak English. First, I ask them if they think English is easy to read. Everyone says, ‘Yes, it is easy’. However, I then ask them to read the following English words: through, though, trough, and plough. I ask them again if they think English is easy to read; everyone says, ‘No!’. I point out to them, ‘ If you can read English, then you can definitely learn to read Hebrew! ‘

Learn to read Hebrew: the 5 Ws and 1 H

To understand how to tackle a project, I always ask the 5 Ws and 1 H questions. At this point, I am sure you are sitting there scratching your head, completely puzzled as to what does this have to do with learning Hebrew. I think we can agree that learning to read this ancient language is definitely a project. The

5 Ws and 1 H mean! The 5 Ws are who, what, when, where, why, and how. And what has this got to do with English being difficult to read? Well, it is important to find a simple method of learning to read this ancient language. Introducing the how.

How do you learn the Hebrew alphabet and vowels? There are, of course, many ways: face-to-face, online, or a combination of both. One particular online program called Easy Learn Hebrew teaches people to read Hebrew using a very simple method. Some people have mastered this skill in as little as six weeks. 

The ‘why’!

Why do people want to embark on this journey? There are so many different reasons. Some Christian people want to be able to read the Torah. The Torah is important to people who follow the Christian faith as they believe it underpins the basis for understanding God’s laws, heritage, and the roots of the Christian faith.

Indeed, people all over the world are keen to learn to read Hebrew—not just Christians! Some Muslims also seek to learn to decode the Hebrew language. The main reasons are to understand the Abrahamic heritage, discover connections with the Jewish religion, and study ancient texts. Jewish people are also keen, usually in preparation for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

Exploring the ‘who’ of the 5 Ws!

I started researching who wanted to know how to read the biblical Hebrew alphabet. Through my research, I have started to gain a deeper understanding of people’s motivations. People around the world are interested in connecting with individuals who follow other religions, and the Hebrew Bible, written in one of the oldest languages in the world, can connect them.

Interestingly, religious scholars, historians, and those interested in learning about the origins of monotheistic religions and the bible may want to learn Hebrew. Embracing this language can provide insights into cultural and historical frameworks. It can help develop a deeper understanding of religious traditions and allow meaningful interactions between interfaith communities.

‘Where’ do I start?

The question ‘where’ can be asked in two different ways. One way is to ask where I should start. The other way is where I can learn. Some people can feel overwhelmed about tackling this question of ‘where do I start to learn this language?’ The advice I always give people is to ‘start at the very beginning; it’s a very good place to start.’

Yes, I have taken those words from the musical The Sound of Music. But they make complete sense. If you want to learn your first Hebrew word:

  1. Take a deep breath and start with a simple Hebrew course.
  2. Wait to try to learn all of the complex Hebrew grammar.
  3. Start by learning the aleph bet and the vowels.

By the way, in case you do not know this, the ‘aleph bet’ is the Hebrew alphabet!

Where and when can I learn?

If you decide to learn in an online environment, then the answer is ‘everywhere’. As long as you have an internet connection and a device, you can pretty much have the lessons in your hand. You can learn on the bus, in the garden, on your lunch break, or even in bed!

If you prefer to use a Hebrew book or a Hebrew reader, you may need to learn at home. Some of these books can be very bulky and too heavy to carry around in your bag. You also need to have your own textbook to avoid going to classes and learning with a teacher.

That is why I like an online learning environment. It gives you the flexibility of where and when you want to learn. Some people do not have time to travel to classes. I found that traffic has become prohibitive in accessing different parts of my city. I often like to do things online, and learning is no different. 

Conclusion

It is so helpful to draw on the 5 Ws and the 1 H when making decisions about learning a new skill. It helps break down the tasks and provides clarity around any barriers. As you can see, the same is applied to learning Hebrew. Wherever you are in the world, and whatever your motivation for learning Hebrew, breaking it down is very helpful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie8ZuWV6tpg

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