I often receive phone calls or emails from parents or adult student requesting help to help their child to start reading in Hebrew.
The conversation often starts off like this Hi my name is xxx. My child is start Bar or Bat Mitzvah lessons and needs help reading in Hebrew. I received your name from Rabbi xxx and he/she suggested that I call you.
The parent often sounds both apprehensive and relieved at the same time. Apprehensive because they think Hebrew is difficult to learn, and they can’t even start reading in Hebrew themselves. Relieved, because they may have found the solution to their problem of their child reading Hebrew.
Other times, I receive emails from prospective adult students, asking how can they start reading in Hebrew.
How I teach reading in Hebrew
I give the same information to both groups. I explain that I use a specific method to teach people to start reading Hebrew. It is a method that I learnt from my father, and my father learnt from his Rabbi over 60 years ago. This intrigues people, and are eager to hear more.
I also explain that I teach students how to break up a word into syllables. I talk about how a word can be seen simply as a group of syllables, that can be read consecutively.
Understanding a person’s motivation
I find it helpful to find out a person’s motivation in wanting to start reading in Hebrew. A child who is studying Hebrew to prepare for his or her B’nei Mitzvah studies will have a completely different focus to that of an adult who wants to learn Hebrew to convert, or to follow the service in Synagogue.
By understanding their motivation to learn Hebrew can help me focus the direction the lessons take. Often a younger student is not interested in translation, However, an adult student is interested in translation, and to understand the meaning of the prayers.