It is so interesting teaching beginners to read Hebrew. So many try and read Hebrew like they are reading English. (99% of my pupils come from an English-speaking background). They want to learn to read Hebrew fast. Inevitably they make mistakes. To try and prove my point about why they need to slow down, I have to ask them a few questions.
I have to ask them how long they have been reading English for. The answer is usually between 3-50 years (depending on their age!). I then ask them how long they have been reading Hebrew for. The answer is, 5 hours. I then ask them if they think they should be reading Hebrew (after 5 hours), the same speed they are reading English. The answer is invariably “no”.
Trying to “compete” with experienced Hebrew readers
The Hebrew pupils are in a bind. When they go to Synagogue, they hear Hebrew being read fast. So, they want to learn to read Hebrew fast, thinking that they can keep up that way. Unfortunately, it is not the case. I explain to them that the people they hear reading Hebrew fast, have been reading Hebrew for at least 10 years. They have only been reading for 5 hours!
Taking a step back
So, although everyone wants to learn to read Hebrew, I ask them to slow down their reading. As a guide, I teach them how to recognise syllable breakups. I teach them the 6 different types of syllable that I have identified in Hebrew words. Being able to identify these syllables, the student can then draw in syllable lines. Following the syllable breakups, forces the reader to read more slowly.
Although the students come to me, wanting to learn to read Hebrew fast, they soon realise that this is not a good option for a beginner. They decide to completely forget the idea of wanting to learn to read Hebrew fast. They decide to read Hebrew fluently, with the understanding that speed will come later.