Don't give Piano a hard time for this question! Nowhere in the tips and notes (that I read) does it mention that you will need a Hebrew keyboard to actually do the lessons. I would think this would be something very important to put in the opening remarks, right after the bit about Hebrew reading from Right to Left.
Yes you can. I have a samsung (android) phone and in your language settings you can download hebrew (among many many others if you want). Then anytime your keyboard is up you can swipe the space bar to select languages quickly האבא - just an experiment with the keyboard there - it even types from right to left for you.
I was really looking forward to Duolingo Hebrew, but am extremely disappointed. 1. The letters (especially the Hebrew letters) need to be MUCH larger. (Is there a way to change the overall size of the text?) 2. About the exercises, I found they were simple enough that I could remember most of the answers the second or third time through (I was clueless the first time). But I couldn't say I really have learned them and will remember them. It gave the uneasy feeling that I was "cheating"--just repeating what I saw just a few seconds before, not retaining it in my long-term memory. 3. As others have commented, much more attention needs to be paid to learning the alphabet. 4. Clear instructions should be included at the outset on how to set up and use the Hebrew keyboard function in Windows (and Mac and any other applicable platforms), how to toggle between Hebrew and English keyboards, etc. Perhaps with some practice exercises on that. Although there is an extensive comment on the Hebrew Windows keyboard in the discussion (thank you for that, whoever contributed it), it is written and formatted in a very hard-to-follow way. 5. Some explanation of vowels (and especially their absence in written form (at least here, and often elsewhere) should be made. When are vowels used in print? Only in Hebrew Bibles? 6. Back to the alphabet: Much more time should be spent learning each letter and sound of the alphabet in the form of exercises, not just reading the notes and memorizing the hard-to-read characters. Introduce each letter in large print, discuss its pronunciation(s), and take some time to differentiate it from similar looking and similar sounding letters (there are so many characters that appear confusingly similar in Hebrew). "Aleph" especially needs more explanation, since it is so often simply a placeholder for a vowel that is often (including here) unwritten. "Bet" can have at least two sounds, b and v; there should be some explanation of the differences in usage. (Over the years, I have studied Latin, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and biblical Greek and Hebrew in traditional classes. Recently I started using the Pimsleur system for modern Hebrew, Greek and Spanish, and it works fairly well for "tourist" purposes, though since it is oral-only, one never learns the alphabet or spelling until late in the program, if then. (That's not a plug for a competing system; "Oral-only" works for infants and toddlers, but it seems a shame to exclude the written form entirely for adults; in many fields, it is acknowledged that aural and visual learning can reinforce each other if done right. I hope Duolingo Hebrew will do it right. I've tried learning biblical Hebrew and Greek in traditional classes (twice for Greek) with unsatisfactory results. I thought Duolingo Hebrew would help. I am VERY disappointed. (I had tried Duolingo to review Spanish and German, which I found much better, perhaps because the alphabet is familiar). Maybe the links to memrise etc. in the discussion will help. However, I hope that Duolingo Hebrew can be improved substantially while in beta. It will be worth the effort. Thanks to those who are developing this!
About point 5: in Hebrew there are no vowel letters. There's the Nikkud system, yet it is complex, archaic, and rarely used. However, verbs (and most nouns) follow a pattern system (Binyanim for verbs, and Mishkalim for nouns), which makes pronouncing predictable.
About point 6: Aleph (א), Heh (ה), Vav (ו), and Yod (י) are used sometimes as Matres Lectionis - consonants that indicate vowels. Aleph (א) indicates the vowel "uh" (e.g. the last א in the word "father", אבא, Aba), or "o" (e.g. in the word "no", לא, Lo). Pay attention that for both vowels, they are short and stop abruptly. Heh (ה) also indicates the vowel "uh", yet longer, without the abrupt stop (e.g. the last א in the word "love", אהבה, Ahava). Vav (ו) indicates the vowels "o" (e.g. "voice", קול, Kol), or "oo" (e.g. "garlic", שום, Shoom; or "cool", קול, cool) Yod (י) indicates the vowel "i" (e.g. "who", מי, Mi)
There are four (4) letters with two sounds - Bet (ב), Kaf (כ), Peh (פ), Shin (ש). Bet (ב) can sound like B or V; Kaf (כ) like K or Ch (as in loch); Peh (פ) like P of F, and Shin (ש) like Sh or S. Notice the similarity between the duos. The "harder" sound (B, K, P, and Sh) is used only at the start of a word or a syllable.
http://duolingo.wikia.com/wiki/Hebrew Hmm. Well they are still setting that up also: Are you on windows? There is a Hebrew Keyboard layout just waiting for you in the Windows Control Panel, click on Regions and Languages, from there click on Keyboards and Languages, click on Change Keyboards (Don't worry you will be able to access English easily also.), Click on "Add", scroll down to Hebrew (Israel) and pick a keyboard, click "OK", click "Apply", click Advanced Key Settings, click on English, click Change Key Sequence, click the box next to Enable Key Sequence, choose a Ctrl + number (I like CTRL + 1 for English myself), click OK, then click on Hebrew and do the same for another number ( I use CTRL + 3 for Hebrew, because I use many other languages also.), Then click "Apply", then click OK You will have a little language bar on the top of your screen or on the bottom on your task bar. You can right click it to put it in the other place if you prefer. Click on Settings , I like it (docked in the taskbar.) Now you can click on the little icon to switch languages are just use the CTRL+3 or whatever number you assigned to it to switch to Hebrew and CTRL+1 or whatever number you assigned to English to switch back.
Does the Windows setting allow one to type Hebrew vowels? Also, does it easily allow accents to be typed in other languages? For instance, do the Windows programs set up our key boards to act as if they were Hebrew, French, and Spanish key boards instead of having to type in codes to produce vowels or accent marks? BTW, thank you very much for providing this information in the thread.
Yes, you can type all Hebrew letters and, of course that includes vowels. You can also set up French and Spanish keyboards. I personally prefer the United States-International Keyboard for French, Spanish and German which allows me to press the apostrophe key and a letter to create á, the key left of the 1 plus a letter to create à, the quote key plus letter for ä, the circumflex plus letter for â, the right ALT key plus s for ß and ~ key plus n for ñ or right ALT key plus n for ñ, right ALT does act on many other letters to provide other special letters. You do need to remember which letter is where for the Hebrew keyboard. So you can open this little keyboard view while you are learning it. https://www.microsoft.com/resources/msdn/goglobal/keyboards/kbdheb.html
You can see any Windows Keyboard layout here: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/globalization/mt644793
Here is the US-international keyboard view: https://www.microsoft.com/resources/msdn/goglobal/keyboards/kbdusx.html You can scroll over any of the special keys to see what accented letters you can get with it. For example, apostrophe + c will give you the cedille ç
For some less common languages, I use Holdkey with the regular English keyboard which I can suspend to use my easier favorite windows keyboards by pressing Win-Alt-Esc and repress that to go back to Holdkey. (Holdkey is a program which can be downloaded.)
Also I learned the alphabet on Memrise and Shalom Sesame: https://www.memrise.com/course/52953/alphabet-symbols-and-pronunciation/6/
If you really want another way to type, you can go to translate.google.com and translate from Hebrew to a language that you don't know (for extra non-cheating, make it a language whose alphabet you don't know). Make sure that the button in the bottom-left of the text box is selected, and Google Translate will transliterate for you. It's not perfect, mind you, so you do need to make sure it wrote the letters you wanted.
You are being taught from A. There is a thought and method in this course. Try to be patient and continue. I'm sure things will get clearer. Also, if you are using the mobile app, you might not be aware of the tips&tricks sections, that have a lot of additional important information and only appear in the web version.
I have not gone very far yet in Hebrew, but this course seems to be logically presented. Like other courses of Duolingo, the alphabet is to be learnt elsewhere. Or you can plunge straight in and try to make sense of it. I am enjoying the lessons a lot. I have heard Hebrew spoken but not tried to understand written Hebrew until now. There are so many available online resources for the Alphabet - http://www.cartoonhebrew.com/alefbet - such as this one in pictures which is helpful. Toda raba to the creators of this course.
I'm shocked that no one has mentioned this yet, so I feel it's my moral obligation to do so.
סבא בא, אבא בא / אריה מכפר סבא בא / בא ברוך, ברוך הבא / עם דודה, דודה רבה / סבא בא, אבא בא / גם הסבתא יבאבא / אהלן ומרחבא / מי שבא ברוך הבא!