“Teach yourself Hebrew”
What do you really need to learn Hebrew?
I’ll be honest and give you the items upfront before you read on. You need 1) the habit of setting goals, 2) Hebrew learning material and 3) consistency.
That’s it. If you can take care of these points, the rest will come to you. You’ll learn when it’s time to stop using a book. You’ll know when you’re ready to talk with natives. You’ll know when you need a teacher.
Now, let’s go into the details — Here’s how you teach yourself Hebrew.
1. Set yourself a goal
Before starting, ask yourself ‘Why do I want to learn Hebrew?’
- I want to be able to read the Bible in Hebrew
- I want to take a trip to Israel and know just the basics
- I am going to permanently live in Israel and need to know the language perfectly well
- I want to study Hebrew because I like studying new languages and find it exciting and challenging
Done? Now, set an even smaller, measurable goal!
Because big goals like “I want to be fluent” are vague and don’t tell you how to learn, what to learn, when to learn and how often to learn. This, actually, is why a lot of people fail at Hebrew self study.
And remember, you need a specific deadline for it too. Otherwise, when will you learn? Someday soon? Someday is for people that wish to do “things.” “Someday” actually means never.
They’ll never do it.
Don’t be a wisher. Be a doer. A deadline gives you a specific date to aim at.
So, what’s a good, small and measurable goal?
- Learn 10 words today
- Learn 100 words in 1 week (deadline: August, 24th, 2025)
- Learn the alphabet in 1 week (deadline: June 1st, 2017)
- Listen to 10 Audio lessons this week. (deadline: January 13th, 2012)
- Read 5 pages of your Hebrew textbook by the end of this week. deadline: Friday, September Xth, 20XY.
You get the point, right? All are measurable (10 words, 100 words, 10 lessons, the alphabet). All are small, and thus are realistic to achieve and accomplish. Small wins lead to great gains. All have a deadline to finish by.
If you reach enough small goals, they’ll start adding up. Just imagine: 1 minute of Hebrew conversation grows into 2 minutes, then 4 minutes, and then 10 minutes. Some months down the line, you can speak Hebrew with lionhearted confidence.
To Do Now:
- Stop for a second.
- Write down your small measurable goal in a notebook. Act on it.
Get into the habit of setting goals and you will be able to teach yourself Hebrew.
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” —Zig Ziglar
But what if you don’t have any learning materials yet?
2. Find learning material
If you want to teach yourself Hebrew, you’ll want some learning material.
- Hebrew learning software
- Hebrew audio lessons
- Dictionaries of all kinds
- Literary books
- Mobile apps
- Hebrew Textbooks
- Hebrew movies
- Hebrew songs you like
- Interesting articles
- Hebrew learning websites and more
What do I suggest? I suggest HebrewPod101, a Hebrew learning program and website. You get a ton of audio and video lessons with them. So, you can listen and learn while in a car, on the train or at your computer. Here’s an example lesson:
- Absolute Beginner S1 #1 – Saying Hello in Hebrew
- Press the play button below
- You can also read along on the site with Lesson Notes
- Click Here to Visit HebrewPod101 for more Audio/Video Lessons, PDF Books & Apps
Just make sure you choose the material you like and can actually stick with.
Remember, you need to enjoy the process of learning too.
Don’t fantasize of just fluency, fantasize about practicing and learning.
Kind of like I think about what kind of articles to write and not about having an incredible, popular blog.
3. Use flashcards
Use flashcards, vocabulary and stickers to learn the most commonly used Hebrew words.
Here are a few tips to make the most out of your flashcards:
- Put vocabulary charts according to what you have in each room. Like a chart with kitchen / food related words on your fridge; clothes related vocabulary on your wardrobe’s door and so on…
- Print or buy flashcards with Hebrew words and related images, look them through from time to time. Our brain remembers words best when they are accompanies by visual content.
- Put stickers with Hebrew words written on them on things around your house, especially things you often use and see, like your TV, sofa, fridge, the food you have in your fridge, your toothbrush etc. Each time you use or see these things you will also read the Hebrew word for it and in such a way your brain would create a strong and long-lasting association between the Hebrew word and the item it describes.
Where can you get some Hebrew Flashcards and stickers?
Learning Programs like HebrewPod101 have digital flashcard learning tools.
Or, you can also get Hebrew Flashcards on the Amazon.com Store.
4. Watch Hebrew movies and TV series with English subtitles
Watching Hebrew movies and TV series with English subtitles can be a very powerful learning method.
When hearing Hebrew and reading its English translation at the same time your brain would learn to “hear” the Hebrew language and associate what you hear with certain English words. After watching such Hebrew movies with English subtitles for some period of time you will eventually notice that you can recognize some words and word combinations.
And as a plus, you will also learn about Israel’s culture and local lifestyle.
This is a very easy and fun way to teach yourself Hebrew without, actually, doing anything.
Pay attention to the pronunciation and intonation of the Hebrew speakers in the movies you watch and try to speak like them.
This method must be done along with other theoretical and practical methods, otherwise you might end up having unstructured, unstable and rather chaotic skills, since it can’t replace actual studying, but it is a great boost for you in your way to your goal.
5. Listen to Hebrew songs
How can this help you teach yourself Hebrew?
This tip will help you to get used to “hearing” the Hebrew language. You don’t have to understand all the lyrics of the song. You can just turn it on in the background while you do your stuff instead of listening to the songs in your native language.
There are so many beautiful Hebrew songs of all kinds.
Choose the songs and music genres that you really enjoy listening to and learn Hebrew on the way!
6. Read books
Find the Hebrew translation of your favorite book and read it. You are already familiar with the events described in the book. You don’t have to read the whole book from beginning to end, because it might be too difficult for a beginner, a small paragraph would be enough. You can have the English version of it next to you to consult if you get confused or can’t understand something. This tip will help you to overcome your fears of failure and boost your self-esteem.
If you’re looking for Hebrew textbooks, click below:
Consistency is key when it comes to learning Hebrew.
Consistency is the mother of all success.
It’s why bodybuilders are consistently at the gym. It’s why your favorite singers have been singing since childhood. It’s why your favorite actors have been acting for ages. They started and never stopped.
So, don’t stop.
You have to learn something new every day and practice and master the skills you already have. Even 20-30 minutes a day will make a huge difference.
Don’t stop. Even 5 minutes is good enough to teach yourself Hebrew!
8. Communicate with native speakers
This is, probably, one of the best ways to study any language, because it gives you the chance of trying out the skills your already have and acquire new ones in an informal and rather friendly way, without the actual ‘studying’ atmosphere. It will also provide you with speaking and listening practice, which is essential in learning a language.
It will give you the chance to know the REAL Hebrew that is spoken in Israel and to discover more information about their culture and lifestyle.
You may already have a friend or a family member that speaks Hebrew, try to ask them for help. Another option is to find a native Hebrew speaker in some language learning community, forum or blog.
It’s also helpful to speak to other non-native Hebrew speakers who learn the language just like you. It is always easier and more fun to study a new language with friends. You can correct each other’s mistakes and make the process enjoyable.
Now you are ready to teach yourself Hebrew.
Honestly, if you can do #1) set goals, #2) get materials and #7) consistent, then you’re set.
The rest will come to you.
P.S. Done with reading articles and want to learn Hebrew for real?
Okay! I recommend HebrewPod101.com — an online learning program with audio/video lessons made by real teachers. You can learn to speak, read and write, AND take your lessons on any device.