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Can Anglos Ever Speak Hebrew Like Natives?
No time to learn Hebrew grammar? It's not all lost guarantees Addam Corre, who runs Street Hebrew - a special program teaching practical day-to-day Hebrew.
Learning to Speak Hebrew - but Without the Grammar

Let me begin by stating that if you want to learn Hebrew, have loads of time on your hands, are that way inclined and are able to learn every tiny grammatical rule of the language, then good for you! This is in many ways ideal.

For the rest of us who only dream of having that much time/memory space on our hands it’s plain and simply not realistic. So the question is, do you need to learn all the grammatical stuff in order to be able to speak Hebrew in every day situations? I’m gonna say NO!

For the average person in this day and age, time is of the essence and getting bogged down in what I call “grammatical quicksand” is not where it’s at as far as confidence and fluency are concerned. A five year old doesn’t know what the word “grammar” means, yet knows to say ”he does” and not “he do”. How do they know? “He do” just doesn’t sound or feel right to them. They never learnt that grammatical rule after all.

From my experience with people learning Hebrew, they often say a word or sentence which is grammatically incorrect, then with a puzzled look on their face say “no, that doesn’t sound right” and correct themselves for the word/sentence that just sounds (feels) better. Language isn’t just about cold, indifferent letters, words or sentences in black and white on a page it is also about “feeling” what’s right.

All languages, including Hebrew, have certain logical, grammatical patterns that are followed. The more time I spend with people learning Hebrew the more I learn myself how many of us actually instinctively feel when something sounds or doesn’t sound right.

People who have just a little experience with Hebrew but are developing an “ear” for it also begin to develop a kind of “third eye” that instinctively begins to understand when something is correct or not. The mastering of this is not easy and of course some grammatical instruction is important but once you have the principles down you can begin to flow and ease your way into learning Hebrew, without the old fashioned and traditional approach of “grammar first”.

So how can you "train" your ears to hear and take in all that lovely Hebrew being spoken all around you? Well, there are a few ways of doing this. A great audio/visual approach is to watch kids movies. Like Disney, Pixar etc. Many times there is an option on the DVD itself to change the audio language to Hebrew or to toggle between Hebrew/English subtitles. It's a good idea to become familiar with the movie in English and then play around with it; listening sometimes to Hebrew, with English subtitles or listening in English with Hebrew subtitles. It's also a great way for kids to improve their Hebrew in a fun and entertaining way.

Another tip is to listen to the radio whenever you have the chance. Call-in radio shows in particular are excellent as you get to hear people from all over Israel calling into the radio station to discuss the topic of the day but from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Therefore you get to hear Hebrew spoken in different ways and with slightly different accents. All of this assists in getting your ears used to hearing and discerning modern, spoken Hebrew.

So if you are learning Hebrew and want to improve your fluency and speaking skills, then trust yourself a bit! You will increasingly be able to distinguish between what sounds and feels right, and what doesn’t. Best of luck!

Addam Corre
Street Hebrew is designed specifically for Anglo Olim who want to learn conversational Hebrew in order to understand and be understood in everyday Israel. Whether it is at work, at the supermarket, in a taxi or helping the kids with their homework! As well as private lessons Street Hebrew is now offering tailor made Street Hebrew lessons online via Skype. Your first online lesson is free of charge, so if you already live it and know that you love it, then it’s definitely time to learn it!

For more information contact us at www.streethebrew.com or email: addam@streethebrew.com


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