1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Hebrew
  4. >
  5. Hebrew with little base knowl…

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/room317

Hebrew with little base knowledge

It seems to me that the Hebrew course requires you to have quite a bit of knowledge about the language/alphabet/basic words before you even start. Is that correct? Is there a remedial course for starting from almost nothing? I know the alphabet but that's it.

October 2, 2019

36 Comments


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

Mostly you need to know the alphabet, so if you already know that you are off to a great start! If you need some extra practice WriteIt! Hebrew is a free app that can help you review the letters. I knew some basic Hebrew before starting so maybe I am not the best judge but I think that even though the Hebrew course does move pretty fast, it is managable if you use some extra resources to help with vocab as you go along. It really helps to do the 'Duolingo Hebrew' course on Memrise along with the official course (I don't think I could do the course without it) it has all the vocab from the course with full audio. I learnt the words on Memrise first and then did the Duolingo lesson, but some people might prefer a different order. I also really like Drops (free five minutes a day) for vocab, the audio for Hebrew is quite good and it is great for learning basic words. Also, remember to read the tips and notes for each skill.

If you want a course with a different, in my opinion more beginner friendly approach, I recommend trying Mango Languages Modern Hebrew course. You enter your library card number check on their website to see if you can get free access. The course is a bit more conversational than the Duolingo course, and you don't need to type so it is a nice way to just get used to hearing and reading Hebrew.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/room317

You definitely seem to need to have at least a kindergarten understanding of spoken and written Hebrew to start. An infant's knowledge of the alphabet didn't get me past the first try.

October 3, 2019

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

Actually, a kindergarden level of understanding is what you get when you finish :). I am finished the course with most skills at around crown three and can finally understand most of רחוב סומסום the israeli version of Sesame Street. This is not to critisize the course, rather people always underestimate kindergarders. However, probably having some knowledge helped me. Try Mango Languages, I also got frustrated with the Duolingo course at one point and the Mango Languages course helped me get back into Hebrew. If you have specific questions there are always knowlegable people on the furoms to help. Don't give up.. the beginning is the hardest but as you progress it actually starts to click.

October 3, 2019

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

<< Actually, a kindergarden level of understanding is what you get when you finish :). >>

Touché

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MattPryor3

A kindergarten level of understanding is definitely something to aspire to!

October 7, 2019

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

Not to discourage anyone but i found this Duo course in Hebrew to accelerate quickly from the git go - even though i studied it for 4 years in a classroom environment plus lived in Israel for a while. It must be set up for people that have a good deal of previous knowledge of the language. Maybe you could get a language book from Amazon and that would help ? I'm doing ok in it, but honestly it does seem geared for those who have a good solid prior base of it to build on. Good luck, if you take it slowly and use supplements maybe, it should be well worth the effort.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/room317

Thanks.

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Douglas845380

Please see the comment I just left next to yours here.

October 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Douglas845380

It's certainly a challenge, that's for sure. But it's not insurmountable. I found Duolingo Hebrew after watching Daniel's videos on the alphabet and elementary conversation. Then I found Memrise to track his course. It was about 3 months after that when I finally found Duolingo. So far, I've made it to the end once. Many of the early lessons now have "5" and many have "3." I'm pushing to go to the end again so that everything has at least a "2." I never studied before and have never been to Israel. I think it's just a matter of commitment to the study every day rain or shine.

October 5, 2019

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

I felt that way when I started and it’s still the language that’s most difficult of those I’m studying. However, I am slowly learning. Perhaps the best thing for me was to repeat the first lessons before doing the later ones.

October 3, 2019

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

Is Hebrew harder for you than Japanese and Hindi?

October 3, 2019

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

Yes. They both have, pretty much, one syllable per character, well, at least for beginners hiragana Japanese. Hebrew, on Duolingo, has less audio support than any of the languages I’m studying. I think this is because there is no suitable automatic text-to-speech converter for Hebrew (yet).

October 3, 2019

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

I think the real fun with Japanese starts when you get into Kanji. 2000 chatacters to be considered literate.

October 3, 2019

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

もちろん 。 Duolingo started introducing Kanji a few months ago, just slipping them in. I am about half way through my fourth tree now, I don’t know if the introduction of kanji is an upgrade or the original plan. Either way, it’s a great addition for me.

October 3, 2019

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

I am dabbling in Japanese with a different app (Kawaii Japanese), which introduces about a hundred Kanji I think, and even that feels like a lot to me! but I am surprised that I am actually learning to recognize them, I guess it just takes practice like everything else. I find the Kanji beautiful, but I think it would take me years to get to a decent reading level.

October 3, 2019

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

I really like KawaJapa although the android sensei is a little much. Her approach of teaching Japanese “like it is” instead of forcing it into a Eurocentric system makes sense and really helps on an abstract analysis level. Duolingo is much more traditional western but its interactive.gamification helps me to learn without analyzing.

I don’t know the app, I’ve only seen a website and a youtube channel.

October 3, 2019

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

I am wondering what path the development of our civilization may have taken had our ancestors from the Fertile Crescent not come up with the original digital revolution:)

October 3, 2019

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

You mean Silicon Valley?

October 4, 2019

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

Well, we wouldn’t be having this chat and we wouldn’t know those particular ancient people existed.

Your italics confuse me. Do you think we’re all Sumerians?

October 5, 2019

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

The Foreign Service Institute lists Hebrew in Cat IV (1100 hours to the S3/R3 level), while Japanese is in Cat V (twice as many hours). That said, you do have first-hand experience in these

October 7, 2019

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

No, except I have seen the Japanese estimate. I guess it's because the FS wants you to know the 1800 Kanji needed for high school graduation. I've seen less than 100 so far in Duolingo.

October 7, 2019

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

I am not sure if I fully trust the Foreign service estimate on Hebrew. I don't think it is that hard grammatically. Once you get used to the writting and learn some words... it is not so bad (personally I think French is harder than Hebrew, but I know that is just me) Most of the other languages in that category have like a million cases. Interesting though that Hebrew is category 4 and Arabic is category Five. I thought they would be closer, difficultywise, though I have read Arabic grammar is more complicated.

October 7, 2019

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

I do not tend to trust state-run outlets in general with anything :) FSI's list looks a little vague and not terribly scientific (e.g. why only German in Cat 2?). I used it more like an invitation for juggledean to explain the relative difficulty of Japanese vs. Hebrew in more detail.

I believe we are on the same page why learning Hebrew feels easier than __ (insert a random new language). It's like cleaning out a house you inherited, so you can move in, vs. cleaning someone else's house for a less long-term reason. But that's subjective of course.

What is objective is that most Hebrew block letters resemble corresponding Greek characters, even the names and the sounds they make; only 27 characters including the sofits and excluding the dots, with no exotic, hard-to-conjure sounds. The grammar, as you stated, isn't particularly convoluted and/or logic-free.

October 8, 2019

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

I knew absolutely nothing before I tried it.
I could not start lessons right from the get go. Well, maybe I could have, but it would have been difficult.
I watched a youtube series on the hebrew alphabet to understand it's use and sounds. After that I was able to start going through the course much easier. Although it is not my primary goal to learn that language and I just do it for fun, so I am still at the very basic levels.

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/juliet569059

You definitely need supplemental resources. Not knowing the vowels killed me

October 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/room317

Thanks, that's unfortunate.

October 2, 2019

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

You definitely need to know the alef-bet and how to read without vowels. I wish it was more intuitive for people coming in without any prior knowledge. Is it that way with other languages that have different alphabets?

October 3, 2019

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

The "how to read without vowels" is certainly a more daunting, longer term challenge than to learn the 27 block characters :)

Also, the Hebrew script is not all that "outlandish" to someone who is familiar with one or more other scripts that were derived from the Phoenician.

October 3, 2019

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

‘ts nt hrd t rd w’’t vwls ‘f y knw th wrds.

October 3, 2019

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

Since modern Hebrew does use certain consonants to produce vowel sounds, your phrase would be even easier to read in Hebrew transliteration: איבן איזייר טו ריד

October 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sdelta1

This is still the hardest part for me and I've lived in Israel for 36 years: knowing how to pronounce the words. If I know the word, I can read it correctly when I see it. If I don't, I will say it wrong every single time. My daughters correct me, sometimes patiently, sometimes not so much.

October 6, 2019

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

Hmmm .... how do you know that your daughters always correct you correctly :) ---

October 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MattPryor3

Hi, I knew no Hebrew whatsoever, except how to say "shalom" and "toda". I taught myself the alef-bet using an iPhone app (MissSpells already said which one) in a few weeks, and after struggling through the first section (mostly by trial and error), started to get it. Knowing the letters will make life easier, but even that will come with the course if you persevere (I'm told).

Remembering vocab is something I find incredibly difficult compared to European languages, partly because so much gets taught and also because a lot of words sound very similar apart from consonants (especially with regards to the verb groups). The accompanying Memrise course is good for that although if you spend enough time practicing completed lessons you'll probably learn it using Duo alone.

Good luck, it's a fun course and worth persevering.

October 7, 2019

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

What do you mean by saying that a lot of words sound very similar ... like those ending with -it, -ut and -ah? I am not challenging your statement, just trying to better understand the experience you have had.

October 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MattPryor3

Well for example the pa'al verbs, all take the form X-O-X-E-X (X being consonants, O and E being the vowels). To me at least they seem to overwrite each other in my brain space.

October 8, 2019

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

חורף - חורפת - חורפים - חורפות

רוטב - רוטבת - רוטבים - רוטבות

(sorry, I am just being silly)

October 8, 2019
Learn Hebrew in just 5 minutes a day. For free.