Do people learn how to read Hebrew by how they're told the word is pronounced? Or can they learn by sounding out the letters? I'm having a hard time reading with only the consonants.
You can't sound it out... you just have to remember and eventually get it by context. Kids in Israel, in first grade do learn with nikkud (the vowel symbols), but after that it's not used anymore. It's a bit different though because the kids can already speak Hebrew.
Vowels in Hebrew words follow certain patterns. The choice of a particular patten largely depends on the part of speech and the grammatical form of the word given. By listening how the words are pronounced in sentences you will gradually get used to those patterns and will learn to read withoud the nikkud, thus bypassing the primary school stage.
You can memorize the roots and develop a contextual view. It is, on my view, so far, the only way I have found
Because לאוכל would mean "to food", since אוכל is a noun, whereas לאכול is the infinitive form of the verb ("to eat").
לי נראה שדעת ברווזים עליי מושפעת הרבה מאם יש לי לחם או לא. תשמע, ברווזים אוהבים לחם אבל אין להם יכולת לקנות ככר. זאת ההתלוצצות הגדולה ביותר על הברווז בכל העולם.
Why are there two zayins in "ברזזים"? Is it to produce the 'v' sound and not 'ru'?
It's actually doubled specifically to tell you it's pronounced as a "v" sound instead of an "U" sound. Basically if you see a double Vav in the middle of a word it's going to pronounced "v". A bit weird, I know but still makes way more sense than a lot of English spelling and pronunciation . ;)
NOW THAT I DON'T USE THE 'TO', BECAUSE IS THE ' ל ' AS BEFORE IS ASKING ME FOR