https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hamilton320

Is Hebrew Difficult to Learn For an English Speaker?

November 28, 2018

22 Comments

Sorted by top post

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheEeveeLord

It's harder than, say, Spanish, French, or German, but not exceptionally hard. The Foreign Service Institute ranks it as a Category 4 language (along with most languages that aren't Romance or Germanic), meaning that it takes about 44 weeks of full time study (or about 1100 class hours) to become proficient. It shares this category with Russian, Greek, Hindi, Icelandic, Turkish, Tagalog, Zulu, and much, much more. Since this category is so big, so diverse, and more or less in the center, it seems to me that they're all roughly average difficulty while the Romance and Germanic languages are easy and Arabic, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese are all hard.

November 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AaronTBD

Korean is not hard I'm sorry

November 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EthanHaisma

yes it is

April 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertColumbia

Oddly enough, Icelandic is Germanic. I suppose the exceptionally archaic grammar and vocabulary are to blame for it being category 4.

November 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/drincade

I've studied Japanese and German and Japanese is a walk in the park if you omit the kanji. Hebrew has substantially more quirks as a language that make it difficult to learn.

December 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Thomas_Wesley

Once you get past the pronunciation and alef-bet, I don't think it's really much harder than French. Just my opinion thus far. It's a fairly logical language, just somewhat alien to what I'm used to in the Romance languages that I know and am learning.

November 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidClark252502

I'm finding it difficult somewhat, but for at least the words and phrases they constantly go over in a lesson, you do get those in your head. It will take me awhile to get it all down, but I'm learning anyway :) Keep going!

November 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RowanM.1

I'm finding it pretty tough so far. It would help if more early lessons were devoted to the Hebrew alphabet. Take a look at how the Japanese course introduces you to hiragana. Something like that would be extremely helpful for starting out in Hebrew.

I realise Tinycards can be quite helpful with Hebrew letters, but I still think lessons devoted to the individual Hebrew letters at the start would slightly reduce the overall difficulty of the language.

I suspect that one thing most (or at least, a good many) Category 4 languages have in common is a different alphabet to the standard Western one. This is an extra barrier to learning at the start. Romance and Germanic languages use much the same alphabet (barring a few extra accents) as English. Along with their numerous cognates, that makes them much easier to pick up initially. But when you're dealing with a totally foreign alphabet and writing system as well, it's like you have to learn to read again. I can look at a European language and have a rough idea of how to say the words even if I don't know what they mean. But if I look at a language whose alphabet and writing system I don't know, it's just meaningless scribbles. I am starting to pick out a few Hebrew letters, but it's still quite tough for me at the moment to distinguish one from the other, let alone form sounds from them, and this is where greater concentration on the alphabet at the start would make the early stages of the course a little easier.

November 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/elsbethwey

it is different in grammar, because it is a Semitic language, built on word roots... the verb times are different and difficult too. I wanted more explanations for the grammar !

November 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/belstar128

Yea its pretty hard.

November 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/James903608

It really depends on how much you want to put into it. I found it to be difficult but I find all languages, including English to be difficult.

November 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidClark252502

I hope you are doing well on yours. We are not too far behind one an other. Any tips or thoughts?

November 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elimelek1

In my humble opinion, trying to integrate Hebrew into your life as much as possible is helpful. Just listening to Israeli TV shows is helpful for the flow of the language, plus you pick up a few words here and there. Take notes on Duolingo and review them fairly regularly. Just writing things down helps to get them in your brain and it exercises another function to help.

December 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CatSamwise

Hello :)
You can try listening to Israeli radio on the internet. There's a Ministry of Education one that is in "easy Hebrew":
https://hadshon.edu.gov.il/
Good luck!

December 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/r.ruckman

Thank you for your link. I am learning Hebrew because I love the Jewish people and praying daily for the peace of Jerusalem. Do you have other suggestion links for beginners? Movies, books, online, anything

December 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CatSamwise

Good luck with the learning :)

Some additional resources:
עברית בסימנטוב
A very old (black and white) TV show that teaches Hebrew through situations: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL51YAgTlfPj7z_fK_Sklm-S0MADQVS-Zh

Children's music channel:
הופ! ילדות ישראלית
https://www.youtube.com/user/HopIsraeliChildhood
The songs are short and easy to learn & you can get links to other children's channels with other familiar content from there.

If you want grownup music then Ivri Lider is probably your best bet as he has really good annunciation in his songs (he's pop-rock).
https://www.youtube.com/user/IvriLiderOfficial

There are many great Israeli musicians that one could get into, depending on your preferred music style.

I'll look into some more resources & maybe post it in a separate post, so that others can find it as well :)

December 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sebecraft

It's considered a category four language, but I find it to be easier than French, once you've gotten familiar with the alef-bet.

November 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AJ_is_too_short

It's not that bad, it's all in how you approach it. Duolingo is helpful, but not the best method at first. I used the "Living Language Hebrew Complete" set of books and audio, and it actually got me really comfortable with the language. It teaches some grammar, while also focusing more on useful phrases. It's a good starting point, I think.

(I mean.....it is a Semitic language, so the vocabulary won't have many ties to English, and the basic structure of the language is a bit different, but once you "get it" it becomes quite logical and simple in general.)

December 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tekva2

Well...I've been studying for twenty years, on and off, mostly off! I am at an intermediate level, but still find the vocabulary overwhelming, even though I have a pretty extensive vocabulary. So many words!!! Am just now mastering the verbs. But don't let my testimony disturb you, I have been doing this is a scattered fashion. Love the language, though...absolutely lovely!

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/r.ruckman

כן בשבילי זה.

Note that the time you put into it or anything for that matter will make a lot of difference. The language has many nuances that one must become familiar. Hang in there and keep working. I know indeed how frustrated one can become.

December 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tekva2

The very best teacher I have ever found is on You Tube and she gives private and group lessons via computer as well. She made the conjugation of the verbs so easy, I was astonished at the magic of it. www.thekefar.com

December 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Iris636934

I think it would be easier if at the beginning it would be spelled out phonetically, in the basic letters (ABC) or roman alphabet whatever you call it. And then after a while be switched to Hebrew lettering at least on Duolingo. I think that would be much more easier at least at first, in the beginning. Basically learning the Hebrew spelling and lettering last.

I picked up some Hebrew words just by watching certain Israel movies and Tv shows. But the alphabet is a different story for me.

May 15, 2019
Learn Hebrew in just 5 minutes a day. For free.