I have been teaching people of all ages (10-85 years old) to learn to read Hebrew. I have noticed many beginners try to read Hebrew fast. One of the first things people do, once they have mastered the art of reading Hebrew, is to try and read Hebrew fast. With the exception of 1 student, all the other students whom I have taught are native English speakers.
What I find interesting, is that they try to read Hebrew as if they are reading English. As a result, when a person, whose first language is not Hebrew, they inevitably stumble and make mistakes. The first thing I say is to slow down, you don’t need to read Hebrew fast. I am not sure if the student is trying to impress me (as their teacher), but interestingly enough, everyone tries to speed up.
I point out to them, that they have been reading English since they were five years old; and they have been reading Hebrew for 3 months. There is no way on earth they can read Hebrew like they can read English. I tell them that to read Hebrew fluently, they need to slow their reading right down, read it syllable by syllable, and not to rush it. The results are amazing.
Hearing Hebrew read in the synagogue
It must be quite overwhelming for a newly minted Hebrew reader to attend synagogue and to listen to the experienced Hebrew readers leading the congregation in prayer. To the new reader, it appears as if they are able to read Hebrew fast.
However, it is important to remember that these Hebrew readers are usually extremely experienced and have been leading the congregation in prayer for, most likely, many years. Something else to keep in mind, is that they started as a novice reader as well, and also started off reading Hebrew slowly; they did not read Hebrew fast.
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