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Tip of advice for those struggling to start learning Hebrew...

[deactivated user]

    I've seen comments on this discussion thread and on the Duolingo Hebrew learners facebook page mentioning how the course is very hard for those just starting out with the language. I myself have been struggling with it, but I found something surprisingly simple to help me get past the alphabet section: writing. When I first jumped into the Hebrew course, I was expecting it to be like the other courses, to be relatively simple and that I could breeze through the first few skills and then call it a day. But that didn't happen. I was very confused after the first few lessons. For a little while, I was even thinking about giving up, after only an hour of trying the course because I thought I wouldn't ever get it. But I decided not to, and thankfully, I found a way to make it easier. Write down the alephbet! Put down each letter (its ending counterpart too, if it has one), its name on one side, and then the sound(s) that the letter makes. I know it seems unbelievably simple and like it really wouldn't help, but it does, or at least it did for me. Think of it like a cheat-sheet, and as you see new words, especially if the word isn't already pronounced for you, look at its letters and use your cheat-sheet to see what sounds it could make. It makes reading and pronouncing Hebrew much less intimidating knowing how the words sound.

    Bonus tip: Try not to let the audio overwhelm you. Look at your cheat-sheet and see if you can understand how the letters make the word(s) pronounced the way they are.

    Hope this Helps!

    June 23, 2016



    Yes , the alphabet is key !! That is a basic truth i guess , i always tell people there are only so many things you need to learn , PILLARS IF YOU WILL .... 1 ) ALPHABET / PRONUNCIATION , 2 ) BASIC GRAMMAR ( SENTENCE STRUCTURE / WORD ORDER ) 3 ) VOCABULARY And 4 )PRACTICE , Obviously but thats really all it is , so learn the alphabet and very basic rules and then practice practice practice , and you build your vocab. Time is going to pass either way right ? ......Why not . You will learn !! Giving up is the only thing that can stop you , there are many babies that will learn this language , why cant you ??


    Yes, I think this is a general problem in Duolingo - it start with immersion right away, without explaining any of the basics - what is the new language's alphabet? How are the written words spoken (pronunciation)? Yes, you can learn this by immersion too and make the generalizations yourself from the examples you see, but this is a very slow process, and frankly, more suitable for a child immersed in a language for 10 hours a day, than an adult who's trying to be "immersed" in a foreign language for 30 minutes a day and see some progress in his effort. Beyond the initial explanations on alphabet and pronunciation, I think Duolingo also needs explanations in the middle of the course. Sometimes you can press on the "discussion" link in an exercise and see people pointing you to other sites explaining important issues, but it should be an official part of the course. Yes, again you can make the generalizations yourself, but it's sometimes very hard, and it's always very slow. Also remember, that even native speakers do learn grammar in school, and not just by immersion. Those that do not learn grammar in school, sometimes make mistakes which are "natural" but looked upon as uneducated, and you don't want to learn uneducated language.


    The tips & notes provide a lot of this information. A lot of the answers I give in discussions are things I learned from the tips & notes right here on duolingo.


    I think this "tips & notes" thing is specific to the website, and not available on the mobile app, which I use 99% of the time.


    Good point.

    I don't know why they haven't made it available for the app yet. :-/

    [deactivated user]

      Yes, you're 100 percent right. Pretty inspirational, too.




      Thanks , its a great post what you said is true , writing helps , i take note of every new word and sentence and repeat each lesson multiple times , and transpose all notes into a binder and a notebook , repitition = practice !!


      I would say first go master the alphabet than come and start the course. Once you've got the alphabet down it's relatively easy.


      I think writing by hand is so useful and so sadly neglected when it comes to new alphabets. I haven't used the alphabet except for very tiny amounts for a couple of years at least, but it's still in my head, and I think it's because in my first Hebrew learning efforts, I wrote everything by hand.

      (Also, Hebrew cursive is pretty!)


      Not sure about reading letter by letter - given that some letters would be pronounced differently depending on the word, but I agree 100% with writing suggestions. When I study languages I don't normally write, it's not my way. But with Hebrew I had to invest a lot of time in writing, I learned hand writing version right at the beginning, and made sure to write down all the exercises, everything. That was a very worthy investment of time. And I lived in Israel, so was surrounded by the language, for those of you who are not in Israel, you should spend even more time just reading letters and writing them down, even if you don't understand the meaning yet. But as soon as you pass through this stage, Hebrew is not that hard (especially for Russian speakers - he-he).


      I was hoping the first lessons on the alphabet would simply be something like flash cards which displays a Hebrew letter and we voice back the letter. I think the current approach of display complete sentences and words are a bit much for those simply trying to match a single letter to a sound.

      BTW, I am not throwing in the towel. Just need to find a way for me to able to master a single letter at a time.


      We considered doing this, but it doesn't really work, since each letter can have several values. ב can be b or v, י can be y, i, e, א can be pretty much any vowel, or silent. We start off really slowly, just three letters and very short words, so go as slowly or as quickly as you like, and keep referring to the tips and notes. Good luck!


      Thanks for your contributions!!!


      Thanks for responding!!!


      I learned in reading the Torah, that a dot in the letter would change the pronunciation. I found that learning how to read Hebrew in school much easier then here, because the vowels points WERE given and not taken out "because Adults literature does not have them".


      If you scroll down to the bottom of the page there are tips and the alphabet is partially explained , ABA - Father / Dad :) , 1st word !! אבא ----≥ a/א b/ב A/א right to left :)


      I have seen the explanations. But I feel it would be easiest to use a flash card like system to really learn the letters. I am in no way trying to be critical of the course. I just need another method of getting myself familiar with the alphabet. I'm really very excited about the course!!


      Yea , it was the same with russian cyrillic for me , you tube probly has a basic slideshow you can take note of , and audio too ! I havnt checked MEMRISE yet, but they have the flash card hook up ...


      Thanks. I will search for that!!!


      Duolingo's official memrise course for learning the names of all the letters: https://www.memrise.com/course/1087087/hebrew-alef-bet/

      I've also found this helpful for learning the sounds: https://tinycards.duolingo.com/decks/6ffe8ee7-b859-4451-834e-df28b9ed927e

      And this for learning where all the letters are on the keyboard: https://www.memrise.com/course/188776/typing-on-hebrew-keyboard/

      I haven't found a decent site to practice true typing in Hebrew, but that last site will at least teach you where all the letters are.

      EDIT: That typing link has issues with the punctuation keys (which are important, since ת, for example, is on the comma key). This one also teaches the location of the letters for typing, without that issue, (and reinforces the letter names, which is nice): https://www.memrise.com/course/1636485/typing-hebrew/


      I learned "aba ba" in a children's Hebrew book that has vowel points. That is why I could do those lessons here.


      Here is a resource for studying the Hebrew Alphabet www.quizlet.com. Search on Modern Hebrew Alphabet or Hebrew Alphabet. Some files have audio and some do not. But you can practice with flashcards, take tests, and practice with speed drills to increase your proficiency.

      I hope this helps! Hebrew is a beautiful language. After reading many of the discussions here I feel certain that there is an abundance of support, encouragement, and love of the language to help everyone be successful!


      Could you link to the specific set of flashcards? Your link just sends us to the quizlet site in general which, while a fantastic resource, is less helpful than a more direct link.


      Try this link to see if it is helpful to you: https://quizlet.com/85284088/hebrew-alphabet-flash-cards/ It also includes an audio feature with the flash cards.


      I did that as well! And I absolutely agree that it really does help! Thank you for helping everyone else who's also struggling to learn Hebrew as a beginner. :D


      Not sure if this is going to help but when new immigrants to Israel start learning Hebrew at an ulpan, a total immersion language school, they start first by learning to just read and write the aleph bet. There are books specifically for this purpose. Nobody in Israel writes in block letters so one has to learn both. There are basic Hebrew books to teach both the aleph bets, get one and get a notebook for lefties so you learn to open a book from right to left. That's how books open in Hebrew and Arabic.


      I struggel often with the new lesson, but than I just do it a second time, I listen quite often to the audio and if I still forget it, I'll try to think of a joke/sentence to remember it. By doing so, I was a bit slower, but I get through the courses relatively smoothly.


      The simple truth is you have to read Hebrew before starting the lessons. It's probably necessary to use the pointed letters at first, but eventually you have to learn to read without the vowel points. Even in Israel, there can be a doubt of what a word (especially a name) is sometimes. We are soon moving to Israel, so it's critical to write. I was shocked at how simple it was to learn the writing, it took me a few times practicing to get it.


      I'd add: vary your resources and don't rely on Duolingo alone.

      While it's a cool language game, it's best to supplement it with something that teaches alphabet, and explains a little more about the grammar.

      Mixing methods is also good for your motivation :D Here are some suggestions of other sites and apps for Hebrew: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-sites-and-apps-for-learning-Hebrew/answer/Marta-Krzeminska


      I've found using a variety of resources has been the most beneficial in language learning. Memrise is great for memorising vocab and alef-beis (or other scripts). When it comes to grammar I still learn best from a textbook and being able to see verb tables and charts, Duolingo tips and notes also sometimes has these. Duolingo is great for putting both of those skills into action and having to construct/deconstruct sentences on a daily basis going into that immersion factor. I've found focusing on other resources and using Duolingo as a warmup/daily quiz/supplement helps me stay motivated.


      I did the Hebrew alphabet course in memrise (I should point out that I did retain most of the letters from Hebrew school, and seeing them yearly so it wasn't entirely unfamiliar. I just forgot what they were called and nikud names pronunciation. But I did the alphabet then started the Duolingo vocab on memrise, about a month ago. So by the time I actually got here I'm pretty familiar with whole vocab and alphabet... It's helping a lot. I couldn't figure out why memrise thought ducks, wine, donkeys, turtles and pigeons were important vocabulary... (I'm vocab section 26 thought I'll never use HAIL I've more frequent occurring words to learn - if ever happens I'll look it up. 12 hours later, it hailed). Now I know it's all because of Duolingo!


      Hi all, this worked for me too! I used the Behrman Hebrew Handwriting Chart, printed and plastified it and it has helped me tremendously! (http://www.behrmanhouse.com/resource_room/hebrew-handwriting-chart)


      I know the alphaber! My problem is that I need the vowel points in order to learn the word. Then, after I've learned the word, only then can I read it with out the vowel points. My other issues is that stupid fonts INSIST that a "I" should be sufficient for vav, yud, final chet! And that the silly little horizontal line is NOT necessary and should NEVER EVER EVER be seen! When I read the torah, I get that line! I hate the simplication of the Hebrew letter to a crap existence! I don't care if they do this in other writing. When we are learning the language, it is useful to have the FULL letter shown! Good luck in getting evil technology to show you the full font! David font on LibreOffice works, but if I go to the keyboard and look at where the letters are, I get tiny I 3 times, with microscopic length differences. :P

      I quit! I'll take up Hebrew again in a couple years. For now, I'll focus on the other languages. I read my Torah better than I do Duolingo. :P


      If you have an IPhone, u just load the Hebrew key board. Have u tried that? Also, I wish this Hebrew program also had script letters bc in Eretz that's what most people write בלי הנקודות.


      I can't read script. I also have a learning disorder. I can only learn the Hebrew if I see it first with vowel points. After I see it with vowel points, only then can I learn to read it without vowel points. And I do have the Hebrew keyboard, but they put the letters in various tiny lengths of I that I can't tell apart yet. I need to see the Torah version of the letters (without Artscroll) instead of the "I am lazy" version of the letters. Thanks!

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