“At Home With Hebrew – TheHoly Language” – Multimedia Windows Hebrew Tutorial Software Program teaches beginners to read and pronounce Hebrew language, and to recognize the most common Hebrew words used in Bible and Synagogue.
“At Home With Hebrew” contains approximately 750 pages or screens. About 650 of
these directly involve teaching a Hebrew language concept (the remaining 100 are
menus, help screens, indexes, etc…). Thus if the student had a photographic
memory and could spend just 3 minutes on each screen, there are at least 25 hours
(3×500=1500 minutes) of teaching materials. While many pages can be covered in
3 minutes, most students will repeat a screen several times, perhaps once or
twice the first time used, then 5 or 6 times in the process of on-going review.
Also, a student can repeat screens using the book-style letters (font) the first
time or two, and then later using the cursive-style-letters. Thus, your “At
Home With Hebrew” can easily result in 120 hours (or more) of study material.
As a parent/teacher or self-paced student, this will help you plan and pace your
studies. If you spend one hour per week – you spend two years working with this
program before exhausting its resources.
What are your goals? Are you planning your first or tenth trip to Israel? Is
your son’s Bar Mitzvah next month, next year, or 7 years away? Do you want to
read the Bible in the original language? Do you want to read the Talmud
Commentaries or Dead Sea Scrolls? Or do you want to be able to order a glass of
water in Hebrew? Did you learn the Hebrew aleph-bet as a child – and now you
want to discover the joys of chanting or liturgy? Have you been asked to lead
the morning prayer service?
With your goals in mind, I suggest you create your own customized lesson plan
similar to the one below.
Suggested Plan for Typical Beginner (Adult or Child)
I will use the term “session” to indicate the completion of one lesson.
Some students will do one session per day, others may do three sessions per
week, and others might do just one session per week – depending on the goals of
the parent, teacher, and/or student. If you have a specific goal such as a trip
to Israel or a Bar Mitzvah in 6 months, you can pace your lessons to be finished
a week or two before that event.
1) Learn Letters (Lessons 1-13) using standard book-style font
a) 1 hour per day – for 13 class days (3 weeks)
b) 3 days per week (Mon/Wed/Fri) (5 weeks)
NOTES: My general suggestion is to repeat the entire prior lesson before
beginning a new lesson. For example, on Day 1 the student could do the Intro
and Lesson 1. Then on Day 2, the student should repeat Lesson 1 and complete
Lesson 2. Then on Day 3, the student should repeat Lesson 2 and then complete
Lesson 3. Each Reading lessons introduces two new letters (and perhaps some
vowels). Each lesson is cumulative, in that it re-uses letters from the prior
lessons. Therefore, when you are on Lesson 3, there should be no need to repeat
Lesson 1, because repeating Lesson 2 will re-emphasize everything you learned in
Lesson 1. On the other hand – there is no problem repeating a lesson 10 times
if that’s what it takes for the student to learn it. Repetition is the key to
No “surprise letters” are ever introduced. Each letter in each word will have
been introduced and explained before appearing in a word.
In the reading lessons, the student should always try to pronounce the word
himself before clicking on the mouse-button to speak and reveal the
The vocabulary in Reading Lessons 1-13 were chosen more for teaching the
phonetics rather than for teaching vocabulary. In other words, the vocabulary
in other portions of the program such as the Grammar section, the “Common Word
Groupings”, and the “Top-400 Biblical Words” are actually much more useful.
2) Play games involving letters (matching/speed drill) as desired
3) Practice Readings
Now that the student knows the letters, he needs to enforce and practice
these new skills in doing some actual reading – even if he does not understand
the words. At this stage, fluency in just the phonetical reading skills should
a) Synagogue & Holiday Words – These are words which a Jewish student might
already be familiar. Thus sounding these out using the phonetical skills gained
in the reading lesson will be good practice. For non-Jewish students, these
words may be totally unfamiliar and might be saved for a future lesson.
b) Common Word Groupings and Prepositions – This includes short words and
prefixes that are used over-and-over in Hebrew.
Perhaps your lessons plans should mix the following for variety. For
Day 30 – Nouns 5 pages, Word Family #1, Top 400 #1
Day 31 – Adjectives 5 pages, Word Family #2, Top 400 #2
Day 32 – Noun/Adjective Agreement 5 pages, Word Family #3, Top 400 #3
NOTE: Using this “variety” technique, you will finish the grammar section and
word families long before the “Top 400 Biblical Words”, since it has 24 lessons
and the other sections only have about 8 to 14 subdivisions. At the point where
you have finished the Grammar section, then maybe throw in learning the cursive
letters and the numbers, days, months, and “Books of the Bible”.
a) Grammar – The Grammar section is good for learning a small modern-Hebrew
vocabulary and then uses that vocabulary to form very simple sentences. The
Grammar section is broken down as follows:
(1) nouns (masculine/feminine) – x pages
(2) adjectives – x pages
(3) noun/adjective agreement – x pages
(4) verbs (type1, type2, type3, & infinitives) – x pages
Total Number of Pages = 30
I strongly suggest doing the Common Word Groupings and Prepositions before
starting the Grammar section.
NOTES: All examples in the Grammar section are from modern, rather than
Biblical Hebrew – although most of the rules learned apply to Biblical Hebrew as
well. For example, “They go to the store and drink coffee” is a modern or
conversational Hebrew sentence. But if you learn the construct “They go”, the
same word may apply to “Abraham and Sarah” as “they go” to Egypt. I like to
compare Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew to Shakespeare vs. a man on the street
of New York. With some effort, they both would be able to understand each
b) Word Families – each page takes one Hebrew root word and shows 5 to 20
related Hebrew words. These screens are not designed so much to teach
vocabulary – but to introduce you to how the Hebrew language weaves together new
words from a basic root. Look at each words and see if you can find the root
word in it. Try pronouncing each word before clicking on it.
Number of Pages = 14
c) Top 400 Biblical Words – Each of 24 lessons introduces about 15 new words.
The first lessons introduce the most frequently used words, and the latter
lessons introduce less frequently used words. In other words, if you just do
Lesson #1, you will know the 15 most common Hebrew words in the Bible.
Following each vocabulary lesson are Practice pages which show fragments of
Bible verses that use the words from the lessons. The new vocabulary words are
highlighted as “hot-words”, i.e. they have a box around them. In other places
in the program, you can click on a “hot-word” and just hear that one word, but
not here. In these lessons, the word is highlighted just so you can know which
word is from the current lesson.
Generally the verses use simple words, but they will use words that you have
not been taught. You are not expected to know or understand the entire verse.
By studying all the verses, you will start to get a feel for Biblical Hebrew.
Many patterns and repetitive words will emerge… for example the use of
“Vayomer”, “el Mosheh”, “am Yisrael”, “ha-aretz”, etc… If you have studied
the Bible in the past, then many of the verses will be very familiar to you.
Rather than forcing memorization, I suggest repeating this whole “Top 400″
section two or three times. The second and third time through, the reading of
the scriptures will be much easier and the vocabulary words will start to fall
into place more naturally. This is because many of the vocabulary words are
used in other Lessons. For example, you learn “amar” in Lesson 1, but then
“amar” and its forms “vayomer”, “yomru”, etc… might be used 50 to 100 times in
the scriptures from Lessons 2-24. So when you come back to repeat Lesson 1
after finishing Lesson 24, you will “know” several of the words. Then you can
concentrate on memorizing the words that you do not know.
Decide which letter-styles (fonts) you want to learn. — I strongly
suggest that all students start with “Book Style”, as this is approximately what
you will see in most printed books. If you can read the “Book Style”, then you
should be able to read the “BOLD”, “FANCY”, and “HAND-PRINTED” styles. CURSIVE,
RASHI, and ANCIENT are each entirely different and must be learned separately.
All Hebrew students should learn to read CURSIVE. All hand-writing of Hebrew is
done in CURSIVE. The RASHI style is used in Rabbinical commentaries and the
Talmud. Some students will want to learn RASHI, other will not. The ANCIENT
style is sometimes called “paleo-Hebrew” or “paleo-script”. This was added
mainly for fun and for the students of archeology. This style of font may be
useful for reading inscriptions and/or the Dead Sea Scrolls or other ancient
documents. Remember that ANCIENT and RASHI fonts are rarely vocalized (i.e. the
nikood or vowel dots are not usually present). Cursive is often not vocalized.
Learning to Read without Vowels — This maybe the last skill that you should
add to your Hebrew. This is not a strength of “At Home With Hebrew” – however
here are some suggestions:
1) Go through the lesson called “Reading without Vowel Dots”. This
lesson is only about 4 pages.
2) After you have gone through the grammar section once or twice with
vowels dots, use the Alt-Text menu to turn off the vowels dots, then go through
the entire Grammar Section again.
3) After you have gone through the Top-400 Biblical Words section once or
twice with vowels dots, use the Alt-Text menu to turn off the vowels dots, then
go through the entire Section again.
NOTE: reading without vowels dots is easier when:
(1) you are dealing with phrases or entire sentences
(2) you are armed with a good vocabulary
For these reasons it does NOT make sense to do the reading Lessons 1-13
without vowels dots.
I highly recommend “Israeli Hebrew for English Speakers” as a text book that
will help you with this skill. It begins with everything being vocalized – then
as words are used over-and-over, the vowels dots (NIKOODIM) are removed from
familiar words and you find yourself reading Hebrew with few to no vowels.
Chants and Liturgy and Ta’amim – These are typically of interest primarily to
the Jewish student. Many Christians may use this program to learn Biblical or
Modern Hebrew – and may not be aware of Jewish liturgy. The chants are one way
to learn Hebrew by involving the heart and the soul. When you were little, did
you learn the English alphabet by using an “ABC” song? Songs have been used for
millenia to help in memorization and to help “write these words on our hearts”.
The Ta’amim are learned by every Bar/Bat Mitzvah student in preparation for
learning their assigned Torah (Bible) readings. The Torah passage is chanted
and studied with these symbols, but an actual Torah scroll has no vowels or
Ta’amim symbols . “At Home With Hebrew” just introduces the Ta’amim and does
not follow-up with applying them to Torah passages. The xxxxx sells a CD that
helps students learn their Torah passages – although it uses a Polish
cantillation system of Ta’amim – which is a different system than taught in “At
Home With Hebrew.” The first step to learning any cantillation system is to
memorize the “tunes” of the Ta’amim for that particular system.