Hebrew has 22 letters, all of which are considered consonants. In modern Israeli Hebrew, such as newspapers, vowels are not printed. The reader usually makes out each word without the vowels.
Biblical Hebrew in Torah scrolls is also written without vowels. The Massorites later added the vowels in printed texts to resolve and standardize any differences in pronunciation. An example of a Hebrew vowel is the “Patach”, which looks like a small dash written under a letter. It adds the “AH” sound to that letter.
In the software tutorial “At Home with Hebrew”, letters are taught in pairs. Each lesson teaches a pair of letters, and introduces a new vowels or two. In this way, the student is not overwhelmed with too much information too fast.
Sometimes English letters must be used to represent the Hebrew letters, for example “V” for “VET” and “B” for “BET’. The first lesson of “At Home with Hebrew” would teach only these two letters. Nonsense syllables are used at first, such as VAHV, BAHB, BAHVAH, VAHBAH, BAHBEH, BEHBAH, and so on.
Lesson number 2 then teaches two more letters (Gimmel and Dalet). In order not to overwhelm the student with too much new information at once, the new letters are rehearsed with vowels from the prior lesson. The syllables presented might include: DEHG, GEHD, DAHG, GAHD, DEHGAH, DEHDEH, DEHGEH, GAHGEH.
Step by step, one or two more vowels are introduced. For example, the TZEREH, which can be pronounced like “EH” sound. The same consonants are then mixed with the new vowel sounds: For example: DEH, GEH, BEH.
When the end of a lesson is reached, the tutorial returns to consonants that were taught in previous lessons. This helps the student to combine the old material with the new material. Example syllables reviewed might be: BAHBAH, BEED, GOOVOO, BEEGEE, BAHGOO, and so on.
From time to time, a new letter being taught might look like an existing letter already taught. For example, when the letter “RESH’ is introduced, the student has already learned the letter “DALET”. The tutorial program shows teh two letters, side-by-side, so the student can compare and see the sublte differences. Text also explains the differences to make sure it is obvious.
Each lesson proceeds with two additional consonants. By the Lesson 4, all the vowels have been introduced. By the end of Lesson 13, the student should be able to read, i.e. pronounce any Hebrew word that he sees.